A killer customer centric platform is the best thing photographers need

With the advent of social media, we have strengthened customer centric design. Yet we have embraced a “friend centric” platform. From Flickr to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we are not any longer in charge of what we see. What we see is what our “friends” like to publish. It is like dining out, you would order what your friends want, not want you like. So, the idea of a customer centric platform should have the priority. But what is it, and why is it so important for photographers?

This article will dig into the reality of a customer centric photography platform. It will highlight how it can help photographers. To make it easier for you, I have prepare a very short and sweet TL;DR


  • a customer centric platform puts the user’s passions at the centre of the stage; not what her “friends” like to share;
  • in a non friends-centric environment there is no like-for-like game. Reactions are more honest;
  • as there is no follow-for-follow, users’ behaviours can help identify what’s relevant;
  • a customer centric platform matches photographs to readers interested in their themes. There is no need to know the photographers to appreciate images;
  • a customer centric system wants to serve its users at its best. By collecting photos in relevance-based themes, it serves readers. By promoting photographs, it servers photographers;
  • marketing is about promoting our photographs to those who may want them. phlow does exactly this;
  • nudity and violence are part of this world. we shouldn’t ban them, we should restrict them from those who are not interested in them;

If this short intro was enough to sparkle your interest, please read on…

What is a customer centric platform

Don’t let this word scare you. Customer centric means being built around the customers’ needs. Let’s take Instagram for example. Do you see the images you want in there? Or do you see what the people you follow like to publish. You can’t focus on what you love if what you can do is find people to follow. What if you don’t know the best photographer for a specific trend? And what if one day your interest changes? Should you follow someone completely different? And please, don’t tell me you can search for a hashtag if everything you get is the latest images from it. The “friend-centric” approach is the base of Instagram and all the social media. You consume what your “friends” like to publish. You, as a customer, cannot have a say on what you want to see.

A customer centric application should revolve around each of its user’s needs. Of course we will focus on the photography world on this blog post. So, what is a customer centric approach to photographs? Seeing what I want! What if you want to focus on #surf? How can you find great images to meet your obsessions for flying over the waves of the ocean? Simple, with a platform that is shaped around your passions.

phlow is a customer centric platform, and it seems a small step

When people asks me the difference between phlow and Instagram, my answers underwhelms them.
“Instead of following people, you follow themes you love”
They tend not to understand this is a radical change. The difference seems small, but if you think about it, it is not. From a readers’ perspective the change is huge. You can focus on the things you love to see, without having to deal with “who” published it. As photographers we should realise that customers don’t care about who took the photo. They care about a style, they care about the emotion coming from the photos they see. Ask a bride if she care about her photographer or the photos she produced for her.

While developing phlow, we discovered that what we loved to see did not live in a vacuum. It was often linked to something similar or closely related. During the beta testing, we noticed something interesting. Images in a specific hashtag carried a cloud of related themes. These were significant for us, even if we were not aware of them. For lack of better word we called this the “cross fertilisation of themes”. This was the discovery of new themes we could have loved, and it had a huge impact on our users since we made them visible. While browsing a theme, users are now able to jump from one passion to another, or even to merge two of them. In this way phlow is able to understand more about what you love!

Lacking the friend-centric approach, we are honest

One of the things we knew from the beginning was that we wanted phlow to provide relevant images. If I want to see wedding photos, they have to be the best wedding photos you have ever seen. We started from an assumption: without interpersonal relations, our behaviour is more natural. We don’t need to play the like-for-like game, nor even the comment-for-comment one. When we see a photo, it is what we do with it that matters. Without knowing who is the person who took the photo, we react in a more natural and honest to it.

phlow uses a behavioural-based learning approach (we like big words today). It means is that we calculate how relevant every photo is by listening to users’ behaviours. Everything you do, or you don’t do, help us understand if that image left a mark in you or not. It is about looking how everyone react to an image in a series. This defines its relevance for the next users. So, the images you see are those the community highlighted as most relevant. Once you saw them, they are gone. Long gone is the time when you saw the same photos over and over again. In phlow, if you love it so much, you can save it in your favourites.

Why do photographers need a customer centric platform?

In the typical social media setup, social media marketing is somehow limited. Yes, Facebook and Instagram are fantastic at channelling potential clients. But there are a few hiccup in the process. When everyone talks about social media marketing, they should say social media advertising. This requires a decent knowledge of Facebook adverts; don’t take this for granted! Moreover it means investments which requires a funnel ready at the end of the advert. The vast majority of photographers are not equipped for this. And even if they were, we are still talking about adverts. From whichever angle you look at it, they remains adverts.

In a customer centric platform things change. It is not any longer about who knows whom. The presence of your photographs is not limited to your social circles. The core idea is that if portraits are what a reader’s interest, and you are a portrait photographer, this is a match. The advantage for the reader is that she will find what she wants to see.
What is the obvious advantage for photographers? They won’t need to be already known for her images to be shown to those who care about them.

How phlow can help photographer as a marketing platform

Another issue I have with social media, is that they want you to spend a lot of time for your strategy to work. You need to be active if you want your photos to have a good engagement. You need to post at specific times, interact with other users and create a network. How real or effective this network is remains questionable. The common reality is that social media are very time consuming. Another huge drawback of posting our images on social media is that their lifespan is low. An image on Instagram attracts the majority of its interactions in the first few hours of life. This means that an image is no longer relevant after a few days.

On a customer centric platform as phlow, things are completely different. If the community considers a photo to be relevant, it extends its visibility. This is because it is the system role to show everyone relevant photos. This means that photographs will live as long as their quality.

Let’s divide roles, and let readers be readers and photographers be photographers!

In friends-centric platform, everyone is at the same time reader and photographer. The more you play, the more visible you are.

A photographer’s role is to take photographs, to get better, to spend time behind her camera. Every minute we spend in social media, is a minute we don’t invest in our craft. Or it is a minute we remove from working on a better marketing strategy for our businesses. The idea behind phlow is that photographers can “upload and forget”. They don’t need to be active for their photographs to gain relevance.

Now, as a photographer I am a very visual person, and I find very pleasing to spend some time by seeing things I like. I love seeing photos of yoga and surf, and I started collecting them in a magazine called “My Wanderlust”. In this case I have left my photographer’s role back behind my camera. I want to relax and see beautiful photographs.

A liberal approach in a safe environment means avoiding the continuation to a ghetto for some of us

Two of my favourite genres, reportage and boudoir, are quite subdued in social media. Violence and nudity plays a secondary role, if any at all. The life of a boudoir photographer on Instagram and Facebook is full of reports and bans. phlow aims to be different in this as well. As a person of age who is not scandalised by nudity, I don’t mind seeing tasteful revealing boudoir images. I also recognise that certain stories need to show the violent side of humanity. We have decided that we are not the right people to deem what to see, customers are. If you are of age, phlow allows you to decide which kind of photos to see and which ones to hide.

If your images contains sensitive elements, we only ask you to respect users who are not interested in it. Flagging them as nude or violent won’t lower your chances to promote your craft. It will make sure only those who care about your style will see them.

So, do you still think that switching from following people to following themes is a small change? We don’t: try phlow!

Creator, photographer, idealist and traveller, in any order you like. Married to the most incredible woman on earth and dad to an amazing boy. The definition of luck!
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