The Problem with Stock Images
Images make your business shine. Whether you’re using them to break up the text on your homepage, illustrate a blog, catch a scrolling eye on social media or even in a leaflet, images make all the difference. The important thing is to choose the right ones.
Have you ever visited a website and recognised the images, because they are exactly the same stock images that you’ve seen on three other websites? No matter how lovely they are, you can’t help but think “here we go again” and before you’ve read a word you’ve already decided that this website will be exactly like all the others.
Perhaps you haven't seen the pictures before, but you recognise the style. The same props, the same poses, the anonymous background. Stock images are deliberately inoffensive and generic. They have to be since the aim is to sell them to as many people as possible. The problem is that they have no personality. They don’t tell your readers anything about you, your brand or your business. Unique pictures of you can do so much more.
A good picture speaks straight to your emotions. Think of the way a picture of a hungry child can tug at your heartstrings, or how a cute kitten can make you smile. The human brain is designed to react to images and while our survival might not depend on spotting edible berries while we scroll social media, we still process pictures first. How do you want your audience to feel when they look at your website? Excited to work with you? Intrigued by something new? Perhaps you want them to think of you as a friend or a wise mentor? You’ll struggle to find stock images that can spark those emotions, but top quality photos of you, your work and your team can do it every time. They can tell your story before you’ve even written a word and guide your reader towards the next step that you want them to take. Booking a call or a meeting is a lot less daunting if you feel you already know and like the person you’ll be talking to.
Images matter on social media too. Instagram, the queen of visual social media platforms, has 1 Billion monthly users, and half of those are scrolling every day. That’s 500 million people viewing the 95 million photos and videos that get uploaded each and every day. It’s a huge potential audience, but only if your pictures stand out from the crowd.
Nobody really goes to Instagram with the hope of being sold to, or to search for a product or service, but they do exactly that on Pinterest. You might be surprised to hear that Pinterest has 250 million monthly users, more than Twitter, LinkedIn or WhatsApp, and 55% of them are specifically using the platform to search for products. In fact, 90% of Pinterest’s weekly visitors use it to make buying decisions, so sharing eye-catching images there could make a big difference to your sales.
When your pictures are competing with millions of others it can feel as if they will never be noticed, but don’t forget that you can rise above the crowd. Many of them will be stock images, or perhaps badly lit and a bit out of focus. A unique image, taken by a professional photographer, can capture something special. Your personality, your passion and the heart and soul of your brand can shine out from the screen and catch a viewer’s eye. Make them stop scrolling and really look.
STOP BLENDING IN, DITCH THE GENERIC STOCK PHOTO AND STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD.