Content marketers who like to keep an eye on how their brand or publication is faring on social media are about to develop a taste for Lobster. No, not the marine crustacean, but a nifty new tool to help them search coveted user-generated content across multiple social platforms.
Lobster began life in October 2014 as a marketplace for licensing affordable user-generated content. Launched at last year’s Disrupt London, it provides a solution to the tricky and cumbersome process of finding social content that’s either freely available through creative commons licensing, or obtaining licenses from an array of media clearinghouses.
Lobster set out to take advantage of the huge assortment of everyday users who post content freely on Instagram and Flickr (and they help them make a little cash out of it, too). Until now, users had to add the #ilobsterit hashtag, which opted them into making specific pieces of content available for sale. Lobster’s new search functionality allows its own users (primarily digital agencies, publishers or corporate marketers) to find content that’s no longer confined to what Instagram and Flickr users submit to it directly. The gateway is now open to license content from everyday users of those social platforms which comes up in the search results (expansion plans to include Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Vimeo are in the pipeline).
Founder Olga Egorsheva told TechCrunch journalist Jordan Crook:
“We realised how difficult it was to search across Instagram for content using multiple criteria, and even when you find content you want, the process of licensing it can be painstaking.
“We’re solving that problem of search, and then facilitating the licensing process for our users.”
Lobster users select a batch of user-generated photos (usually around ten) that they’d like to use. Lobster then contacts the photo owners (either through an Instagram comment, direct message or email), and negotiates a deal for the image to be licensed out. Instagram users start off with $2 per photo (Flickr users can get up to $3 per image), but if demand increases, they have the potential to earn more.
In Egorsheva’s words, the aim has shifted from being “the iTunes of user-generated content to the Google or Etsy of user-generated content.”
She may well see that dream come to fruition.