You’re hungry.  You’re tired and have more to do than you want to think about.  You’re rushing from here to there doing this and that.  Your kids, whether they’re wee tots or teens who could eat a mountain, are demanding food.  You know it’s not necessarily a healthy choice or a cost-effective one, but you give in before the ‘hangry’ takes over and head to the fast food drive through.

You are greeted with bright images of fresh, delicious looking burgers, tacos, fries, ice cream and the like and get a little excited about eating something warm and tasty that someone else made for you.  You may have considered getting a salad, but those pictures on the menu board change your mind and you choose the item with crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, and gooey cheese.

You smile graciously at the person handing you aromatic bags of (at this point) the much-anticipated meal.  You’re quickly passing food and beverages to the kids while trying to make sure that the order is correct and that there’s no mayonnaise or tomatoes that will offend young palates.  While you’re driving, you attempt to eat your sandwich without it falling apart all over you, and you realize with the first glance, even before the first bite, that it doesn’t look as tasty as it was depicted on the menu board.  You just threw down nearly $20 bucks and you’re disappointed, but what are you going to do?  Eat it and drive on.

Since the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than textual information, pictures are important in your marketing strategy.

How do you get authentic, relevant, realistic, quality visual content for your digital ads, website, and social media posts? Ideally, you yourself take pictures or hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your service team and products.  The placement of images should be considered to determine the quality required for an effective portrayal of your brand or business.

Well, what about using stock images?  Doesn’t everybody use them?  Umm, yes, exactly.  They are often impersonal, overused, and can be found on hundreds or even thousands of other sites.  You can actually find out how many times an image has been used with an online tool called TinEye that executes a reverse image search.

Do stock images truly represent your brand though?  Do they effectively tell your story?  Do they genuinely showcase the products or services you offer?  What do your customers and clients really want to see?  Certainly not a generic image with which they can’t identify, nor one that smacks them in the face as salesy.

So, how do you effectively share visual content that gets the desired result?  You can customize photos with editing tools, filters, text, watermarks, and logos.  You can take a very generic image and make it an attention grabber with artful edits while expressing your brand’s individuality.

Where do you find images for visual content that represent your brand effectively?  Don’t just grab anything off of Google Images because those are not always free for commercial use.  You can utilize Google’s advanced search options and filter images through usage rights, but you should still use caution before downloading and incorporating images into your brand’s social feed, ads, or website.  You should also be aware that sharing images from Pinterest and Tumblr isn’t always allowed either.

It is extremely important to choose images that are legally approved for use.  Aside from your original photos, you can find great content through Public Domain, Creative Commons, or sites that allow you to purchase copyright for stock images.  Check out Creative Boom’s top ten website sources for free images as well as my favorite, Pixabay.

Image quality is very important.  Using your own photographs is great, but make sure that they are clear, balanced, and professional.  Images that you snap for your social media channels may not have a high enough resolution for your digital ads or website.

People want to see something real.  Your clients, customers, and fans want to know who you are – that’s why they’re checking out your website or following you on social media.  Content on your website and social profiles is going to be different.  Often websites showcase products or services and those images should be high quality and reflective of your inventory.  Social media feed can also be embedded on your website, a neat feature that shares a little more of your story.  People would rather see sneak peeks behind the scenes at the office or during a creative planning meeting or pictures of actual items that you sell than a stock image that fills a space in your social feed.

Consider an example of shopping for a new vehicle online.  You will probably go to that automotive brand’s corporate website for information and official images.  When you’re ready to shop around locally, you’ll look on dealership websites where you can see the actual vehicles on the lot.

You want your images to appeal to people but you don’t want them to be misleading and disappointing like the ones on fast food menu boards.  Visual content invites your customers or fans to be part of your brand.  They want to know what makes you unique and why they should stay connected with you or continue buying your products or services.  Impersonal images are not going to engage them like pictures that are more reflective of your brand, company, or products.

Need some help with your visual content? Send an email my way at kate@highroaddigital.com and we’ll get creative!