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Stock Imagery Is Dead, Let Your Customers Be Your Lens

October 20, 2016

Bylined is a new mobile photo apps that allows brands leverage their customers to create on-demand photography as a mechanism to drive customer engagement.

Every day, over two billion photos are shared across social platforms and apps. With apps like Instagram and VSCO, brands and consumers are not always the immediate beneficiaries of images shared as the social platforms are the ones who own the rights to the photos. While there is some access via APIs, it is not always easy to leverage the content a customer has created in appreciation of the brand item. So, how do brands and their customers mutually benefit from the content they create? Bylined is one option.

BYLINED is a new photography-based customer engagement platform that gives brands, agencies, publishers, and venues the opportunity to engage their fans for authentic, brand-oriented photos. Their mission is to bridge the gap between the brands that are desperate to own user-generated content (UCG).

Bylined is a new photography-based customer engagement platform that gives brands, agencies, publishers, and venues the opportunity to engage their fans for authentic, brand-oriented photos. Their mission is to bridge the gap between customers and the brands that are desperate to own user-generated content (UCG).

Think about it. What is the first thing we do when our Starbucks pumpkin spice latte arrives? We snap a photo of it, hashtag it, and share it on Instagram. So, why not get paid for that effort? That’s what Bylined was thinking. To understand more, I sat down with founder David Hunegnaw to learn more.

How did you conduct the research for creating and then launching BYLINE?

The idea for BYLINED was born out of a conversation with a local publisher over a coffee meeting last summer. During the conversation the publisher mentioned an upcoming story he was writing for Comfest, a three-day outdoor festival –– he needed photographers to cover the event and told me how difficult it can be to hire photographers. I immediately asked him, “What about the 20,000 people that attend Comfest every day? They all have smartphones and they’re all taking pictures with them, why not leverage them for photojournalists?”

That was“the lightbulb moment” for us. It was shortly after that conversation I reached out to a handful of national brands based here in Columbus, Ohio, presented the idea for BYLINED to them to validate the need. We didn’t build a single line of code before talking with over 20 companies –– every single one of them committed to using the platform if we built it.bylined

What’s the advantage of using BYLINE for engagement campaigns versus ones that are platform specific?

There are a number of advantages to using BYLINED for product-oriented, UGC/engagement campaigns. My biggest two points are:

  • Images licensed through BYLINED are royalty-free. Brands simply post an Assignment describing what they’re looking for in the perfect photo, and their fans & customers submit their best photos.
  • Images sourced through BYLINED are full resolution and images sourced through BYLINED are taken through the eyes of the customer – and as a result, offer unique perspectives that may not otherwise be captured by a professional photographer

For a brand, it’s also important to note that photos sourced include the intelligence necessary for ongoing marketing and advertising efforts. From a customers, it’s important to note the images include all of the customer metadata (first/last name, email, date stamp, time stamp, location stamp, etc) to ensure proper credit.

Will publishers eventually begin to be able to price their participation in addition to submitting for assignments?

With the millions of sunrise, beach photos, and other images available on hundreds of stock marketplaces, we believe we’ve hit “peak stock photography.” Our intention is to remain “unstock” in nature and do not have any plans allowing BYLINERS (or publishers) to submit photos for sale that aren’t submitted to a specific assignment. The only photo submissions we accept must be submitted directly to an assignment.

We would like to understand your experience with Bunbury music festival, what happened with it?

Bunbury Music Festival is a three-day event with 60+ artists and over 60,000 festival attendees. Festival organizers created an assignment on BYLINED for the event with the goal to capture and own all of the great content being created at the event and use it for their year-round promotional activities. Early in our conversations, we asked the question, “What if we take over the screens between artists and display festival-goer-photos on the screens –– in near realtime?” Bunbury organizers loved the idea! And more importantly, concert-goers absolutely loved being on screen – they actually felt like they were part of the show! It is amazing just how much UGC is created at music festivals!

Are you targeting a certain types of  content creators? Can you describe your selection process?

We have a content pyramid, it includes celebrities, the instafamous and loyal brand customers. While the first two are important, our platform focuses on the actual customer. Doing so allows brands to increase 1:1 engagement with them, collect authentic product-oriented UGC created from the customer perspective, and collect relevant data on bunbury_babyhow customers interact with their product.

Do you feel successful startups can start outside major marketing like San Fran and New York? What are some of the thing people/entrepreneurs should look for in their cities and location to see how they may leverage businesses based their to launch success?

As far as your question regarding startups and success beyond Silicon Valley, I absolutely think that startups can be a success beyond the major (and highly saturated) hubs like San Francisco and New York. Seattle, Salt Lake City and Columbus are more viable as new startup and offer many benefits!

It’s similar to fashion. Before the Internet, in order to be a successful fashion house, you needed to start and be based in Paris or New York City. With the Internet, Shopify, and a merchant account (like Stripe), fashion brands can start anywhere, sell to anyone, and ship anywhere. Access to human, financial, and technical resources have been democratized over the past several years to the point where startup success can be achieved almost anywhere. If you would have asked me this question a decade ago, my response would have been a very different one. 🙂

Learn more about Bylined and Download the app for iOS or Play. Also, stay tuned with my interview with Louder Capital on the growth of venture capital outside of major tech hubs!