Everyone in the business world can and should know that content is king. The major search engines and social networks love quality content. Facebook loves it and Google loves it. Pinterest is built around the curation of quality content. Beyond the effects of driving traffic and word-of-mouth referrals, enjoyable content is enjoyable for the person who matters most: The user. The major tech players understand this and are doing their best to cultivate environments where high quality content thrives.
So with the above in mind, why are so many businesses using vapid, shallow, insipid stock photos that contribute nothing to your website, blog posts, or Facebook updates?
The major problem with stock photos is literally part of their name: They’re stock. They’re not even really content; at the very least, not your content. They’re pieces of assembly line filler mass produced by actual photographers and content creators for use by other companies.
The reason stock photography always looks so blandly perfect is that it’s specifically designed for mass appeal. It’s meant to be as all-encompassing and applicable to as many different business types and organizations as possible. Much like how Resident Evil 6 was a watered down mess in a transparent effort to sell as many copies as possible, stock photography is designed to be appealing to as many potential customers as it can be. It’s not meant to contextualize or be relevant to your business in any way.
As a result, stock photography isn’t going to provoke any kind of emotional response or make any difference when it comes to social network algorithms. It’s not content; it’s a product presented as content. It may be efficient to save some money on hiring a photographer (although your content doesn’t even have to be professionally made in order to be effective) but you’re paying a subscription or licensing cost for something that won’t provide any meaningful return now or ever. I can assure you that nobody is going to see an Rockwellian photo at the top of your blog post and immediately race to sign up for your software subscription.
Most importantly, stock photography projects its own apathy and shallowness onto your own platforms and content. Stock photos make for a stock website, stock social postings, and stock newsletters. If that’s the impression you’re giving off, you might want to talk to your marketing department. If your kneejerk reaction is that you don’t have the time or energy to create good content, what kind of message is that? If you can’t be bothered to put in that kind of effort, why should your potential customers give your website, blog, or social profiles the time of day? They have plenty to choose from.
I think I’ll let The Oatmeal sum this up nicely. “Put your energy into making things that are likeable…Create things that are hilarious, sad, beautiful, interesting, inspiring or simply awesome.” Take it from someone who’s built a loyal following without a single piece of irrelevant stock photography.