It's been a very long time since I wrote about the Panoramio online image service that Google runs, and a lot has changed since then. In fact there's now an entire community of Panoramio users that enrich their daily lives with this service. I'll start from the beginning and explain this for you...
Panoramio is a photo sharing website which focuses on showing the world around you from the photographer's point of view. The acceptable uses of the system require that photos be taken outside and of everyday life. Indoor photos are not allow, neither are photos of specific people, events, specific items, or specific animals. There are exceptions to the rules, for example, you can share a photo of a cow laying in a field, but the field needs to be clearly visible in order to show the natural setting; but you can't share a photo of your dog laying on your lawn in the your yard because that's a domesticated situation.
The real goal of Panoramio is to allow people to browse photos of the world from within Google Earth and Google Maps. You can travel vicariously around the world by exploring photos of the North Pole and the South Pole without ever leaving your chair.
Although that vicarious traveling can be entertaining for hours, it doesn't really help you from a marketing perspective, which is what I'll explain now.
As I said, the goal of Panoramio is to provide a layer of photos of the real world for users of Goolge mapping technologies, and that includes the Panoramio API. Here's where things get interesting because according to my iPhone there are at least 44 Apps that tie into Panoramio and at least 40 that I see available on my Android. Each of these apps serves a different community of users for different reasons, but yet each community is looking at the same set of photographs.
Millions of people are using these apps every day to explore the world around them as they travel about. Some are tourist, but most are just people looking to find local point of interest. Some of the more interesting photos include those of times past. In my own home town I can see photos from Hurricane Irene from the summer of 2011, photos of gas stations long since closed, and photos of homes buried under snow. Remember, all the photos need to be taken outside.
Consider your local retail jewelry store for a moment. How many people live in your town compared to the number of people that walk into your store? Surely some people in your town don't even know your jewelry store is there. Digital marketing in today's world needs to be creative and subtle to reach different people in different situations, and here's how to use Panoramio to accomplish that.
Photos can be transferred into Panoramio from your Picasa Web Albums or from your Google+ photo albums. You can also upload them directly from your computer using panoramio.com. Several photo apps will allow you to upload photos from your smartphone to your Picasa account, if you have one. In my opinion, the simplest way to get photos into your Google+ photo albums is through the Google+ App for your smartphone, and this is my recommended method as of today.
The Google+ App changes frequently so I can't cover specific directions, however you should activate the ability to geo-target the photos you are taking with your smartphone. When you upload through the Google+ App the geo-targeting information should be saved with the image.
Here are you actual directions:
Using your smartphone, you should take 1 good photo of your jewelry store from the outside. In order to comply with the Panoramio Acceptable Use Policy this photo should show your store from a distance, perhaps from across the street, or from the middle of your parking lot. Make sure your store name is readable in the photo. As I said before, Panoramio photos must be taken outdoors, so this whole technique is useless for those of you inside a shopping mall.
Using your smartphone app, upload that store photo as an attachment to a status update to your Google+ account. During this process you might have to manually select the location of the photo if it does not appear to be automatically detected. Then you need to go back to your desktop computer and then navigate your way over to http://www.panoramio.com and activate your account. Creating a new account on Panoramio is easy since you are simply marrying your Google+ account to Panoramio. Once inside you account you need to click the [Upload] button on the top menu.
From the upload screen you have the choice to directly "Upload photos" by clicking the blue button or you can click the links that says "You can also import from Picasa Web Albums or Google+." Naturally it's that latter link that we want to click. A popup window will appear which will allow you to select the photo you just uploaded only a minute earlier from your smartphone. The photo will be grouped in with the "Photos from posts."
Once the photo is transferred into your Panoramio account you will need to give it a Title, a Description, and you can even add Tags. But before you add that information you should click the "Map this" link to make sure your photo is correctly geo-targeted. From my own experience I've found that sometimes my images are close to where I was standing when I took the photo, and sometimes the targeting information is blank. If your information is blank you will have to simply type your address into the targeting field they give you.
You need to be careful when writing the Title and the Description for your photo. You can't simply say "Perosi Jewelers" because that would indicate you had specific intent to show your store and your competitor down the street might someday flag your photo as "advertising." If your store is a freestanding building then you could use the Title "The Perosi Jewelers Building." If your store is located in a strip mall you could use say "Town Square Mall showing Perosi Jeweler's store."
The photo Description you use also needs careful crafting. It's best to simply explain where you were when taking the photo, e.g. "Photo taken facing North on Main Street."
Throughout the course of the next 12 months you should go back outside and take similar photos to show the different seasons, just make sure the photos show something significantly different. Perhaps the building is covered with lights for the holidays, or perhaps the foliage on the trees around the store are showing their peak Fall colors. What does the store look like after a major snow storm? Make sure to include the seasonal details as part of the descriptions.
This might seem like a lot of work, but in reality it will only take you a few minutes as long as you have a Google+ account, a smartphone, and the Google+ App on your smartphone. I also encourage you to dig up old black and white photos of the outside of your store, but you will need to scan them and manually upload them through panoramio.com. Old black and white photos of the store or your street will have a more fascinating appeal to your local community.
The goal of this Daily Golden Nugget was to explain how you can position photos of your store within Panoramio so your local community will stumble across them while browsing. Call it "top-of-mind awareness," or "branding," or anything you want, but in fact this is simply a subtle type of online advertising exposure.