Stock Images vs Authentic Images; Does it Really Matter?
Stock photos are easy and cheap, which makes them extremely tempting. However, a general rule of thumb is to not use them as part of your visual content strategy. Visual content is the key to many successful branding strategies. Nevertheless, many respectable companies make the mistake of utilizing stock photos that make them seem like a sham instead of a credible brand that uses high visual branding standards.
Authentic is Better Than Stock
When clicking on your customer service page is there a photo of a guy wearing a headset that looks like he could work for you, but doesn’t? If this is the case, your company is breaking one of the fundamental rules of content marketing–authenticity. The good news is that you can fix this issue quite easily.
Use Real People
If there are actual real live humans working at your company, which is more than likely the case, they are the ones that should replace the cheap stock photos displayed on your website. All material that your customers’ can see should also have real live employees displayed on them. What you are offering on your site is authentic and true, and so too should anything that you show your customers.
Humanize Your Visual Content Strategy
Using real people in your photos humanizes your visual content strategy. It is human nature to want to connect with the people around you. By showcasing pictures of your real staff and not just stock photos, you can work towards humanizing your brand. The people in your company are much more interesting than a model Photoshopped onto your website.
Stock Photos Are Soulless
In this day and age, there are thousands of available stock photos on the Internet. Some of these are not bad, however when it comes to your visual content strategy, you need an extremely high authenticity level. Unfortunately, using stock photos does not aid you in achieving your branding goals. If you are not showcasing the people who work for your company, how are customers supposed to know that you stand behind your services? Meaningless, cliché stock photos do nothing but send the message to potential customers that your content is also meaningless and cliché.
The Power of Using Authentic Images
Using and incorporating authentic images into your visual content strategy does the opposite of a cheesy stock photo. It makes viewers of your website want to become involved with your company. In fact, blogs that use authentic images gain 94% more views than those without. It’s not just about using images; it’s about using the right images. Powerful, authentic images aids in leaving an impression with people who view your website.
You Can Still Use Stock Photos if You Augment Them
A staged photo of employees standing around a computer does not say very much about the value of a company. However, by putting in a little more effort and time, you can still use stock photos to enhance your company’s content efforts. To do this, use online design tools that edit and adjust stock photos so not to achieve the look of a run-of-the-mill stock photo, but instead augment your brand with their uniqueness.
Use Photos From Your Customers
One study found that people (millennial’ in particular) are far more likely to trust a stranger than a business. This finding is one of the reasons why photos that are user-generated are much more compelling than any content you can get from a stock image website. Find a way to get customers to produce videos and photos that show your true brand story.
Conclusion: Generic Stock Photos Are Not Worth It
Overused, boring stock photos do nothing but hurt your credibility and lower your user engagement with your visual marketing efforts. Evaluate each photo that you use and take the time to pick visuals cautiously. When necessary, edit photos or even better, use your own.
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