You’ve written a blog post you’re proud of and you know where and how you’re going to share it–the Inbound Fundamentals checklist is checked. The final touch to your post is adding that special main image to pull your audience in when you share it on social media.
Rather than pulling out your camera for each post, an efficient way to find imagery is by using stock photography. With many reputable stock image distributors available online, you’re likely to end up with multiple suitable options for your final post. But how do you choose the best stock photo for your social media? Here are a few tips.
Know Your Copyright Restrictions
When using stock images for blog posts, websites, or any commercial nature, the first thing you need to consider is how and where you can use the image. Whether you find the image on a stock photo site or in Google, make sure you’re allowed to legally use the photo. Failure to do so may result in a fine down the road!
The best way to make sure you can use a photo is by purchasing the image outright from a stock photo website with a business license. Some image licenses are only allowed for personal use, so make sure to read the fine print and cover your bases. Although most images on stock photo websites are intended for commercial use, a reputable stock image site will typically make it clear how the images can be used.
Does the Stock Image Match Your Content?
When you’re posting an image as an addition to a blog post or tweet, be sure that the picture helps your content rather than hindering it. The image should complement the article and not act as a distraction. If you’re posting an article about the best ways to stick to your new year’s resolutions, including an image of a checklist or a list of goals makes far more sense than an image of someone lying on a couch.
You want your image to be engaging enough to cause the viewer to stop and read the content rather than just scroll past it– a power images possess that text alone cannot. However, make sure your content still gets center stage. Remember to give just as much attention to the quality of your hashtags and description, too!
Is it a Quality Photo?
Stock photos can be a double-edged sword. They’re great for sourcing professional photography quickly, but occasionally come across as stale, staged, or impersonal. It’s always worth taking a closer look at the model’s clothing, haircut, expression, or other little details before setting your heart on an image.
Here’s a personal experience: We needed to find a photo of a businessman on the phone. At first glance this looks like a great photo, right?
I almost hit the download button. However, upon closer inspection, he is not actually holding a phone! A rather silly but true example in the world of sourcing stock imagery.
Does it Fit My Company’s Branding?
When a customer is scrolling through their Instagram feed, why will they stop at your photo? It’s because of your brand. I don’t mean your logo, but the look and feel of what you’re sharing and how that communicates your brand to your viewer.
A quick scroll through Nike’s Instagram feed shows a consistency in their images that represents their brand and their Instagram presence. While Nike is not using stock photography for their Instagram, their strategy is still helpful if stock photography is all you can get your hands on. The posts are active, often featuring one athlete doing an activity, or showing a new piece of sportswear. If a customer is quickly scrolling through his feed, he will recognize posts as belonging to Nike because of the consistency of their photographic themes.
In a similar way, be sure to have your brand’s image goals in mind as you’re searching for images to feature in your content. Some brand style guides occasionally have rules on selecting stock photography, too!
Is the Image Optimized for Each Social Network?
When posting an image to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, make sure the image is appropriate for each social network. For instance, a more casual image may work for Instagram, but perhaps not for the more secular-oriented environment on LinkedIn. Consider where the image will be posted, the audience of each network, and the content you’re sharing. Having a solid knowledge of your audience on the various social networks will help guide you in choosing the right image.
When it comes to posting images on social networks, there are also differences in photo sizes! An image that may work on Instagram may end up getting cropped on Twitter. Be sure to have multiple sizes cropped and available when you go to post on social media, too.