Stock Images: 7 Rules for Using Them in Your Marketing
The advent of web 2.0 has meant that the internet is now a visual medium. Companies are using more content (and thus more images and videos) than ever to communicate their brand and relate to customers. However, creating your own visual content can be expensive, time-consuming and, if you don’t know what you’re doing, be unfit for purpose. That is why stock image sites, such as Shutterstock has exploded. However, depending on how you use them, they can be both awesome and awful. Here are some rules for using stock photography in your marketing.
What are Stock Images Bad for?
Replacement for ALL Your Images
While stock images are great to compliment your content, they’re not great if they’re everywhere on your site or design. Don’t leave originality to your competition. A picture is worth a thousand words, don’t let those words be bland, bland, bland…
Branding & Individuality
Stock photos on their own are bad for branding not only ‘de-humanises’ your message but drive potential customers away. Use your own photos for branding and, if people are the centre of your branding, using social media photos to personify your brand.
What are Stock Images Great for?
Enhancing Your Content
With non-editorial stock photos, you can use it in your web design, social media campaigns, email marketing, print designs etc. It is great to enhance the copy that you’ve written or to add visuals in the context of the placement.
Stock images are great as a base template photograph that you can alter to suit your need. While stock images limit the number of people using that particular photograph, there will be a small number of people using that image. Open Photoshop and make it your own to truly be as original as you can be.
Reflecting Your Audience
Writing about mobile phones? Use a stock image of a phone may be suitable but getting the exact model would be ideal. Is your website marketing to millennials? Use pictures of the millennials. This will make your content visually more relatable.
Most stock images are extremely high resolution and DPI, meaning they can be used at large scale print. But they also make a great background for websites. Not all websites need to have a minimal white or coloured background. Where appropriate, using a picture with a tasteful edit as a background may improve your CTRs and reduce your bounce rate. Utilise Photoshop to put your own unique spin on the image too.
How Should I Use Stock Images?
Stock photography should be used to compliment your content, not be it. It should not be used in your branding (at least un-edited).
Before using any stock photography, always use a Google Image search of that photograph to see where else it appears. If your competitor’s site or a fraud site, such as ‘debt relief’ appear then don’t use that image – it will be tainted with negative connotations.
Do you use stock photographs in your marketing material? How do you personalise them to add your own individuality? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.