Monday, February 17, 2014

3 Ways Stock Photos Can Hurt Your Brand

Countless brands utilize stock images in their online marketing, particularly when it comes to social media. Because of the undeniable importance of social media platforms for effective online marketing, and with recent studies showing that adding a photo or a link to your update for your brand will help you get more exposure, people are still using stock photos to do it.

But what some brands need to realize is that stock photos can really damage the way your target audience looks and engages with your brand, thus causing your social media engagement to wane.

  1. Not Realistic – By and large, stock photography is usually easy to spot. Your social followers want to see real people like your coworkers or development team in an authentic setting. They want to see your brand as real people producing real solutions, and not some fictitious stock photo character who only raises more questions about what your brand really stands for instead of showing a level of personalization and transparency that consumers want to see. So instead of buying a stock photo of people sitting in a round table, next time your brand is having a round table, whether it is Google hangout or in your office, snap a photo and use that instead. Real people working hard to give you real results!
  2. Same Photo, Different Brand – Because stock photos are so widely used, it's not uncommon for users to come across the same photo of the same person or figure on two completely unrelated websites. When brands use the same stock images for their social media marketing platforms, it doesn’t differentiate you from other brands who use those stock images. If anything, it makes your brand image look disingenuous. Taking the photos yourself can sometimes be a hassle but it shows your target audience that you are putting forth the effort to be genuine and unique!
  3. Copyright Issues – Another negative way stock photos can damage your brand identity is through legal/copyright issues. Yes, you paid for the images that you use, but are they royalty free or are they rights managed? If they are royalty free, then you get unlimited use of those photos, anywhere and anytime and you or your brand can not be sued for usage, but if they are rights-managed then you have restricted ways you can use those images. Making sure that you are using those images in the right context is key to not having legal action taken against your brand. Also, stealing photos from Google to your social media platforms is just as bad. If you didn’t pay for the photo, don’t use it.
Alyssa Chester is an Inbound Marketing Strategist at Captivate Search Marketing's Atlanta office. Please feel free to reach out and connect with Alyssa on Google+ or on Twitter.

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