We've all seen it: the group of well-dressed, ethnically diverse individuals smiling wildly at the camera as if they're having the best meeting anyone has ever had in the history of mankind. Yes, we're talking about the dreaded stock photo.
Photo Credit: Lockedown Design
Nobody gets THIS excited about meetings unless the topic of conversation is the company-wide paid vacation everybody is about to go on.
With the sheer number of stock photo websites available—some significantly better than others—it's as easy as typing "baby playing with kitten" into your Google search box and voilà: image upon image of cute babies playing with cuddly kittens.
While we aren't saying you should ban the use of any and all stock photos in your content marketing strategy, we'd like to suggest three reasons why you may want to invest in original content.
1. Your brand is unique.
Nobody understands your brand, product, service, or corporate culture better than you. When using stock photos you're sharing a photo that was created using someone else's vision. Regardless of how crisp and professional a stock photo may look, it's not your conceptual skill that created it.
For eCommerce businesses in particular, having good quality product images is extremely important. When making a purchase online, 67 percent of shoppers rated high quality images as being “very important.”
Behind the scenes with one of our clients in the hospitality industry.
Simon is on special effects duty at this photo shoot for one of our industrial clients.
Our stylist helping ensure quality images at this menswear photo shoot.
2. Your images are yours to use as you please.
Hiring a professional photographer does take resources. Chances are, you'll initially spend more on said photographer than you would if you just bought some stock photos online. However, using custom photography allows you to build your very own library of images that you can re-purpose and use as you please. For brand, product, and staff shots in particular, hiring a professional makes good business sense.
Buddy Scalera from the Content Marketing Institute put it very succinctly when he said:
"Authenticity is like currency. Spend it wisely or it will be wasted."
Look at an experienced photographer as someone who can help you with composition and visual storytelling to share your story with the world.
3. Humanize your brand.
With the quality of cameras on smartphones these days, it's not very difficult to snap a behind-the-scenes photo at your next business meeting. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have become much more candid and can show people what your business is all about in a more relateable way.
"People like to connect with other people, so sharing photos of your staff on Instagram can also go a long way toward humanizing your brand." – Arnie Kuenn in Visual Content Marketing on 3 Major Networks: Ideas and Inspiration
Especially on a platform like Instagram, using stock photos is a big no-no.
You can't go wrong with cute office pups.
Get creative with your images.
A picture is, after all, worth a thousand words.