Note: This article was updated on June 25th to reflect more up-to-date stats and information.
A while back, Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco posed for hilarious stock photos, which ended up being a great advertising campaign for their film “Unfinished Business.” The photos perfectly exemplified the public perception of stock art – flat, fake, tacky.
The majority of digital marketers can attest to using their fair share of stock photos for website pictures, advertising campaigns or even social media posts. Stock photos are a quick, convenient way to launch a campaign when you are on a tight deadline and might not have time for a full-blown photo shoot. Additionally, if your client or your company doesn’t have an extensive photo library, stock photos can be a decent last resort. However, they may not do the best job at showcasing your brand on social media, and most consumers are quick to spot the stock. This may ultimately end up hurting public perception of your brand or company if users begin to believe your company does not put in the effort to think about what they are putting on social media.
Many companies and marketers turn to stock photos because they often hit a wall if they can’t think of the right image or how to take it. However, according to Retargeter.com, utilizing great photography of your product can enhance your branding and appeal. If you are a restaurant, having a juicy, freshly cooked burger, frosty chocolate shake, and side of crispy hot salty fries (jeez I am hungry) gives users a reason to be drawn to your ad. If you’re a gym or fitness facility, having nice pictures of your equipment or exercise classes is a great way to show off your business to potential customers.
Zephoria.com points out that there are over 300 million photo uploads per day on Facebook. Social media channels in general are being flooded with content nearly every second of every day. Even through all this clutter, online users can easily point out the difference between real photography and stock photos, and they are far less likely to remember a brand with boring, dry content. So what can you do to stick out in the minds of your customers?
Mandy Nagel is the founder of ithoughtofyou.com, an online retailer that sells fair trade handmade goods. She has seen tremendous growth in engagement and conversions by utilizing real life photos that have helped her business grow quicker than expected. Ultimately, she was able to better communicate the purpose of the brand and encourage users to engage.
“We attribute the growth to content and storytelling done by the images we feature,” said Nagel. “Each photo gives current and potential customers a reason to interact with our brand.”
The Greenbelt Alliance, a non-profit organization, hosts an annual festival and fundraiser called GreenFest. Their community has seen major growth and interest increase due to the quality of media that they have used in their social posts.
“Since we implemented high quality photos into our strategy, we have seen tremendous growth on Facebook through organic and paid reach,” stated Harrison Alley, the community web manager for Greenbelt Alliance.
As the online marketplace continues to get more competitive, finding ways to separate yourself from the competition is a must. Integrating engaging photography into your content marketing will allow for you to accomplish this goal and set your digital presence apart.
Below, The Media Captain has listed 5 steps to integrate photography into your Content Marketing and digital campaigns.
- On a quarterly basis, strategize which type of photo content that you want to share across your digital outlets. Maybe this changes based on the time of year or is centered around a certain company event or fundraiser. Whatever the case may be, having a well-thought-out strategy is a good way to plan for your future posts. Content calendars will also help you stay organized and prepared if there are assets you need to obtain before a certain date.
- Dedicate a half-day towards taking professional photos that can be used across all online channels. We recently did this with one of our local Columbus clients, Bubbles Tea and Juice Company. By taking just a few hours to really set up some great photo opportunities, we were able to provide them with hundreds of assets they could use for months. These photos ultimately increased engagement across both their organic and paid social media campaigns.
- Obtain photos of your employees, customers, office space and projects that you have recently been working on. Showcasing the faces of your company and brand is a great way to build trust with your customers, and also gives them a behind-the-scenes look at what they should keep on their radar regarding product launches or upcoming promotions. Customers also love being able to direct;y interact with a brand through social media, and encouraging them to post user-generated content through giveaways and contests is a great way to get some unique new photos.
- Run A vs. B tests to determine which photo content yields the best results for your online efforts. Take a look at metrics such as click-through-rate, impressions, etc. to see which photos are enticing your audience to be more engaged with your content. Continue to modify your efforts based on what continues to work for you.
- Take your top performing photographs and incorporate them more prominently into all of your marketing efforts. If you know something works, take advantage of that! Keep integrating your best photography work into different aspects of your marketing campaigns and continue to engage your customers in different ways.
Your social media should tell your customers the story of your brand through the photos you publish. There are so many different ways to get creative with your social posts and add some variety to your content calendar. Vince Vaughn mocked stock photography with his unforgettable photo shoot, making the point that no stock photo can truly beat the authentic images of your brand and your products or services. Let this be your wake-up call to create some amazing photos that can provide tremendous digital assets for your brand.