How images can help build your brand online
The Internet generation desires “instant gratification and quick fixes”, and suffers from a “loss of patience and lack of deep thinking”. Taken from the Pew Internet and American Life Report: Imagining the Internet.
But anybody working in marketing knew that, right? Surely anyone doing anything online should already be placing images and multimedia at the heart of what they do?
We are seeing this across the board – from the explosion of image-centric magazine sites like BuzzFeed, to Facebook buying Instagram for $1billion – it’s hard to overstate the importance of images in any brand’s digital strategy.
For starters, they are often the most succinct way to communicate with today’s attention-deficient online audiences. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Including a relevant image can have far more impact than lengthy status updates, text-only announcements and press releases. Marketing agency Skyword did a study of online news content and found that stories enjoy 94% more views when accompanied by a single relevant image.
But even if you’re already sold on the value of including images in your news and content, it is easier said than done. So here are a few tips for anyone struggling to source or create images to enhance their communications.
Use the work of others – but check the rights
When you need an image in a hurry it’s tempting to jump onto Google Images, do a few searches and see what catches your eye. But of course many of the images will be copyrighted, so aren’t free to use. To find images you can freely use, you need to use the advanced search and tick the usage rights option that says, “free to use or share, even commercially”. Even then, please do credit the original photographer.
The same applies with Flickr – the world’s largest photo sharing site. Go to the advanced search and select “Creative Commons: find content to use commercially.”
Often it’s worth paying for stock photography. If you want to buy photos and use them without restrictions, make sure you search for “royalty free”. Take a look at sites like Alamy, Shutterstock, iStockphoto and 123RF – you need to find the cost/quality ratio you are comfortable with.
Take your own photos
It’s surprising how many brands don’t consider just taking a photo themselves. The phone in your pocket probably has a decent a camera. Or perhaps you have a digital SLR? The equipment really shouldn’t hold you back. What’s more important is having good ideas and an eye for framing a good shot.
You’ll only find out if you possess either of these by giving it a go. If your photos need enhancing, you don’t necessarily need professional software like Photoshop. There are cheap alternatives (like Photoshop Elements for about £60) or even free alternatives like GIMP.org.
Want some pointers? There’s a great set of tutorials on Lifehacker, which can guide you through some of the basics to improve the pictures you take.
Hire a professional
If you find that stock photography is making you blend in rather than stand out from the crowd and your own amateur shots don’t quite cut it, then it could be time to call in a pro.
Hiring someone local will save on travel costs. And if you take the time to plan out your shoot in advance, you will maximise the number of good shots you get. This way you can create your very own library of “stock shots”. We do this in Mynewsdesk’s marketing team, and you can see we use these photos a lot in our newsroom and content.
Capture the feeling
Sadly the world of marketing and PR is full of examples of uninspired, clichéd images. But that’s good news for your company – if you can find or create pictures that capture genuine emotion, or are surprising, or humorous, you will elevate your brand above the crowd.
How are you using images to tell your story?