Yesterday’s announcement by Fred Thompson’s non-campaign that he will formally announce next week was upstaged by a call from Mitt Romney’s campaign for supporters to create their own Romney campaign video.

While Fred will be announcing through a webcast, some web-savvy political analysts like Patrick Ruffini think Romney caught the other GOP candidates (and non-candidates) flat-footed.

I would like to take a look at one piece of Thompson’s online strategy: a photo stream at Flickr that allows anybody to use the posted photographs.

The Flickr photo stream is one of a collection of social networking sites that Thompson’s non-campaign is using: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and del.icio.us are the others.

Good as far as it goes, the Flickr stream could contribute more strongly to the campaign effort.

First, not all the photos are tagged. A tag is a meaningful keyword that can be used in a search. If Fred’s Flickr stream is to be a useful resource, it has to be searchable rather than merely a photo album to click through. All the photos should be tagged.

Second, the photos that are tagged need more tags. Take, for instance, this photo of Fred enjoying a foot-long hot dog at the Minnesota State Fair. Tags: “Minnesota,” “State Fair,” and “Fred Thompson.” What other tags might be useful for someone writing a blog post or an article on Fred Thompson? Try: “Small Business,” “Hog Production” or “Beef Production” (for the farmers producting the meat in that wiener), “Entrepreneur” or “Business Formation.” The photograph could be used as a light touch to illustrate an article or post on Thompson’s economic policy effecting small businesses — if the writer could find it.

Third, the photos should have short captions explaining the subject photographed and how it fits with Thompson’s campaign.

Fourth, make sure titles are complete, and don’t assume everybody knows who “Sean” is. (Didn’t “Sean” play Boromir in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy? No: that was Sean Bean, who has also played a homicidal hitchhiker and an Irish terrorist. The gentleman on the left in the photo is Sean Hannity, a conservative radio talk show host.)

Fifth, the subject range of photos should be broader than Fred. If Thompson will be pushing a particular policy point — say, federalism as against activist judges — find a photo that sharply and aptly illustrates that policy point with a specific example, like the face of the judge in Iowa who just tossed out that state’s Defense of Marriage Act. Post the photo with tags and commentary so it can be found, understood and used.

Sixth, more linking to relevant content elsewhere. At least one already-posted photo, for instance, has a link to audio of an interview. More links create more value.

Seventh, and not least, do more to promote the use of those social networking sites than a mute line of icons at the bottom of the official non-campaign website. Adding even a single static page to the site that describes their use would be helpful. (Campaign law may make this complicated. I am no legal expert.)

The trick is to think of the Flickr photo stream as an online resource that grows in value as new photos (with titles, captions and tags) are added.

[cehwiedel also writes at cehwiedel.com]

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