Image is everything. It’s common sense really, but a lot of social media metrics prove that images can boost the reception of your content whether it’s a blog article, Facebook post, or tweet. And we’ve all seen the success of image-centric sites like Pinterest and Instagram. So, how can you make the most of your online efforts without having to become a professional photographer? With a few easy practices using stock photography you can not only improve your social media efforts, but you can make an impression on your readers that makes you memorable. Let’s look at five things you can do today!
1) Define your "Signature Style"
Before you open your browser and start searching for adorable photos of cats and stylish girls in sunglasses, take five minutes and think about what your signature style. Ask yourself, “What is my overall message? What do I want to portray to my audience? What is my goal?” Write down no more than five concrete ideas. Such as: My message is that I want to sell eco friendly, casual beach sandals. I want my audience to feel comfortable, and my brand to be approachable. My goal is to create an image that my foot ware can be worn off the beach, too.
To define your signature style, use you concrete ideas and to choose images that mean something in respect to your content. Don’t use random images, think about your style and maybe create a style guide that suits your overall brand best. Building your visual style guide is a very important first step. Click on the image to see it before editing.
2) Make Simple Edits
After you’ve searched for images that suit your brand, message, and style guide, consider making simple edits to your chosen stock images using shape, color, or text as a unifying key.
Examples of this may be choosing to saturate a part of your black and white images, and add a flag of inset text as the header image for all your blog posts. This same image can be used in tweets, Instagrams, and Facebook posts, and will become visual indicators of your brand to your audience. Yay Images has an online image editing feature that allows you to do all of these actions as a part of your subscription. You don’t even need expensive photo editing software! You can see the before image here.
3) Collages & Crops Set You Apart
Put several together into one image to strengthen the impact of your message. Maybe you can’t find The Perfect Image to convey the message of a blog post about Globe Trekking with a Single Pair of Sandals…but imagine building a collage to convey your message that brings together imagery from all around the world, things a traveler might encounter. Build a collage of tiled images to represent the messages in your content, making your images stronger and more personalized.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of a well-cropped image. The example here shows an image before and after a crop. The hiker in the foreground is not wearing sandals, but the foot ware on the second is ambiguous. The image fits our style because it shows people ‘off the beach,’ but since it doesn’t feature our product, a simple crop makes this image usable! Check it out:
See how simply cropping out the ineffective part of this visual can strengthen your own message? Start seeing stock photos as more than just the sum of their parts!
4) Be a Human Talking to Humans
This suggestion can be the most natural thing to you, or it could be one of the most difficult things to achieve. In theory, it’s simple: know your audience, use a consistent visual personality, and maybe even have a sense of humor! In practice, this can be very difficult. Remember to sprinkle your brand’s personality into your image selections, even if you are using stock images you can do this. Be sure the content you create is relevant, timely, and personable.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and this sentiment has never been truer. Be a Human, Talking to Humans. Use images to strengthen your messages because even the best images aren’t going to fix a personality problem.
5) Using The Right Online Tools
Knowing where to find great stock photos can be a challenge to your wallet and to your conscious. What do I mean? Well, I know the temptation to use a simple search engine’s image results to populate your stock image needs is tempting, it’s also really bad form. This is effectively stealing, and nobody likes that.
So, how can you get great images for your brand? Here are a few ideas:
- Ask your audience and customers! Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter make it really easy for you to ask clients to submit photos they have taken with your product in use. Create a unique hashtag and give credit to the images you feature.
- Use Creative Commons images. Pro Tip: these images can be outdated, difficult to find, or difficult to navigate if you haven’t used them before. Just be sure you have permission from the source to use any “free” images you find online.
- Use a reputable stock photo source, such as Yay Images. Their service includes simple searches, clear usage terms, easy editing features, and great images from a database of thousands and thousands to choose from with one easy and affordable subscription.
Now you’ve seen just a handful of ideas that can make stock images reflect your personal brand identity. What other tips do you have for the Yay Images audience for making their stock photos stand out?