Take a look at what’s just popped up on my LinkedIn.

A post which is being shared on the network claiming that a newspaper ran two adverts for two completely different businesses, only the two ads were using the same image as part of their campaigns.

It’s one of those social images that immediately makes you cringe; how could this have happened? But like last week’s viral magician Sky News publicity stunt, this image is also false and has been taken to make it look like the pages have been published next to each other.

But there is a kernel of truth in the story as a spokesperson for the paper confirmed that the ads were in fact in two separate sections of the paper; one in the main issue and the other in the business section.

Instagram's Rise: Take The Perfect Picture Or Stick With Stock?

It’s nothing more than a coincidence, but one that could linger for the two companies that have used the image. As well as confusing readers, both brands could be accused of a lack of creativity and poor planning, while the paper’s editorial teams won’t exactly be covered in glory.

So what’s a brand to do? This looks like a one-off, but it does make me think about how brands use images. Stock or original; which one should you choose?

How do you use images when it comes to inbound and outbound marketing? Are you a fan of stock imagery and which service do you use? Let me know in the comments section below.

Look at it this way

And the answer to that question may be something that plays a big part in your social inbound efforts over the next few years.

Instagram, for instance, has been forecast to overtake Google and Twitter in mobile ad revenue over the next two years. That would be incredible if accurate and great news for owners Facebook.

Instagram has only been selling ads since June and has used Facebook’s targeting tools to help advertisers reach a larger audience. Lead generation options such as ‘Shop Now’ and ‘Sign Up’ have also been hugely popular and effective.

And brands are making use of Instagram in very creative ways. Old Spice again is leading the way by publishing an interactive choose your own story game called Choose Your Smellstiny; the concept similar to popular books that many of the Instagram generation grew up with.

And brands aren’t just finding visual success with Instagram. Pinterest is also helping brands to earn revenue through their own visual prowess. Pinch of Yum, for example, is a food blog that has generated thousands thanks to its food content and creative imagery.

 

Instagram has been forecast to overtake Google and Twitter in mobile ad revenue over the next two years

Picture this

Original creative imagery has helped these brands to capture people’s imaginations and share great content with their target market. But that doesn’t mean that stock photos will diminish in value; the right stock photo can help people instantly get their message across to complement their brand’s ad if they choose carefully and creatively.

And despite some stock imagery being quite pricey (I was quoted £70 for a basic image the other day) there are some quality affordable options out there like Dollar Photo Club which is great if you only need the odd stock image sparingly.

Or you can make use of Flickr’s creative commons licence, opening up a world of free imagery to you so long as you provide the necessary credits when using.

Most importantly though, for start-ups and smaller businesses especially, stock images can be a lot more affordable than buying camera equipment, photo enhancers, licences to Photoshop, an actual photographer, and more.

Can the likes of Instagram really overtake the big boys when it comes to mobile display advertising, or do Twitter and Google have too much about them? Let me know below!

Focus on your visual strategy

If you can afford to be creative with your imagery then it’s a great way to attract an audience and stand out from your competitors. But using that imagery in creative ways is far more important; the goal here is how to get a slice of that growth in mobile display ad revenue.

If you can refine your mobile strategy to include creative imagery to complement your brand’s message and attract leads and interest then it’d be wise to give it a go. That also means you’ll have to consider your social strategy and how it marries in with your mobile efforts.

Strategy (as my regular readers will know) is my key word. Some industries and companies just don’t have the call for great photography to be part of their content strategy no matter how much they wish it and would be better off with some stock options.

Similarly there are companies out there that are missing a trick and have the ability to take lots of original creative photos that could become a wider part of their brand; in their content strategy, their front-of-house, their leaflets, and other marketing efforts.

Focus on your visual strategy

There’s also basic search practices to consider; are the images on your website well optimised so that they can appear higher in image search algorithms? Well-optimised images can help brands make a big difference in the world of search, whether mobile or otherwise.

Google mobile searches on smartphones have finally overtaken desktop and tablet searches for the first time, with the trend set to grow. As well as making sure that your site is responsive and mobile-ready, good well-optimised and clear, creative imagery can make a huge difference on your ROI.

Share them with your target audience on visual social networks to generate leads. Use them to create fascinating content and email campaigns that can be shared by your audience. Use them to generate leads. Use them to help push products on your website and show people what they’re buying. Use them to create a picture of your brand that’s well worth selling.

If you’d like to know more about how to use images in online marketing and how to optimise them for search contact Webpresence today!

 

(Image: Proterrablog)