Social Selling, the Problem with Foap.

About a year ago I downloaded and installed Foap on my iPhone. I liked the idea of selling my photos to a stock service with little effort. Like many apps, I tried it, put it back on the shelf and stopped using it until I saw a couple of weeks back that Foap had snagged another round of funding and was expanding the service globally. So after seeing the news about funding, I opened Foap to see if things had changed with the app,, and the service.

I’ve been using Foap for the last two weeks and have uploaded 50 or so photos to the service. If you are unfamiliar with the way Foap works it’s pretty simple. You upload a photo, then you rate 5 photos on the service and your photo gets placed in line to be voted on. All photos go through a Foap user review process. You get enough votes, your photo goes live and is up for sale. The higher the rating, the better your chances, thanks to ranking and exposure.

Here’s the rub though. Because everyone is voting, and wants their photo to be ranked high, people tend to give everyone a 3 stars or higher rating. Even if the photo is completely awful. Consequently, a large portion of the Foap catalog is for lack of a better term useless. Now before anyone starts typing up a flaming hate comment, I am not slamming all the photos on Foap. There are a ton of absolutely amazing images out there. The problem is using a peer based ranking system, in an environment where everyone wants to be popular and sell there images.

The lack of objective curation of the app effectively neutralizes all of the content housed on the Foap servers. As a person that purchases stock photography on a regular basis I have browsed thousands and thousands of image on Veer, Getty, iStock etc. The images that are on those sites, have been curated and edited by professionals that know what is going to sell, and what is going to make their catalog superior to the competition. Foap might be a peer driven social network of stock imagery, but in the end Foap and it’s users are competing with every stock library in the world. Because of that, I think Foap needs to have some level of professional curation and editing. Why? Because its all about quality.

All of the images below are within 1 point of each other in ranking. They all average about a 3.8 of the Foap scale of what is good. I know the subject matter is different across the images that are shown, but you have to admit the quality of some photos is much greater than others with the same ranking. And this is why Foap needs some form of editing, or enforceable guidlines for how a photo gets rated.

Just to let you know, I am no a disgruntled Foap user. I’ve been lucky enough to sell 2 images out of the 700,000 that Foap has in it’s ever growing catalog, and I actually think that Foap could work. It’s a great idea, but it needs some form of policing if it wants to be successful long term.

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