Theory and Best Practices

How to Pick the Perfect Stock Photo

The best image to go with your post is one taken or created specifically for it. But a lot of small businesses and individuals don’t have the time, skills, or resources to create (or pay someone to create) an image specifically for every post. Luckily, the second best image to go with your post is a well-chosen stock photo.

Woman in a plaid shirt and denim jacket holding a professional camera

Stock photos are so generic, though – how do you choose a good one? You’ll need a little bit of creativity, a little bit of instinct, and a lot of willingness to sort through stock photo sites!

Consider your tone and subject

The tone and subject of your post will affect what kind of image will go best with it. Is it serious, no-nonsense, or covering a heavy subject? Choose an image that’s down-to-earth and practical and that uses darker colors. Is it light, upbeat, or covering something fun or happy? Go wild on the bold colors or abstract elements.

Be relevant …

Your image should relate to your post in some way. A picture of someone walking their dog probably wouldn’t fit in a post about airplane technology, and a picture of an airplane probably wouldn’t go with a post about a dog-walking service. The image should enhance the post, not make people wonder how it relates.

… But get creative

That’s not to say your only image choice is one that completely matches the topic of your post. Something that’s related but not necessarily your topic can also work. For example, if you’re writing a post about a routine to put you in control of your email inbox, you could use an image of a person at the controls of an airplane to emphasize the “in control” aspect of your post. Or you can use an image that illustrates a story you told in the post.

Use people

People prefer to look at images of other people. If your post’s subject can be illustrated by an image with a person in it, try to choose one with a person!

Get an idea before you search

You can lose hours looking through all the photos on a stock photo site. To cut down on the time you spend searching and browsing, try to get an idea of what you want the subject to be before you start looking. Plus, knowing what subject you want your image to have lets you search and find relevant ones a lot easier.

Go with your gut

It may take some searching through several stock photo sites, or you may find the perfect image on page one of the first site you go to. But in general, you’ll know the right image for your post when  you see it, so try not to overthink it.

Make sure you can legally use the image

Few things are worse than finding the perfect image and then getting sued for copyright infringement. Make sure you can legally use the image before you add it to your post!

Image of someone sitting in front of a laptop - their hands are holding a tablet with Pinterest open on it
Theory and Best Practices

Why Images are Essential (For Everything)

In case you couldn’t tell from the title of this post, images are important in your digital marketing. They’re important for blog posts, they’re important for social media posts, they’re important for website pages and all marketing materials. In this post, we’re going to talk about why.

Images draw attention

Eye-tracking studies have found that people pay closer attention to information presented in images than information presented in text. Using an image says “this is important” – it’s probably why infographics got so popular.

Images process faster

The human brain can process an entire image in as little as 13 milliseconds. Since most people skim posts instead of actually reading them, adding images can help you get your message across.

Images are memorable

Humans have better memory for things they’ve seen than things they’ve read. Adding an image to your content makes it easier for people to remember.

Images are viewable

Content with images gets 94% more views than content without. And you want people to see your stuff, right?

Images are shareable

Some social media networks (like Instagram and Pinterest) are completely image-based. But even among those networks that let you post just plain text, posts with images get more engagement and more shares.

Caveat: You also need content

An image isn’t all you need to get views, likes, and shares – you also need to have good content. Bad content with a good image is still not going to do as well as excellent content with a mediocre image, but an excellent image can make mediocre content more memorable and engaging.

Theory and Best Practices

Why Post Consistently?

I’ve spent most of this month giving you resources and tools to help you post consistently on social media. Posting consistently is one of the major reasons to have a content calendar, and it’s why I find scheduling tools so helpful. But now I want to take a step back and do something I probably should have done at the very beginning: talk about why consistency is so important.

So if you’ve had the idea that posting consistently is important without really knowing why, or if you’re confused why you even need the tools I’ve been posting about this month, here are 3 reasons why you should post consistently on social media.

1. Staying top of mind

When you post consistently, that puts you in front of your followers on a regular basis, which means you stay near the top of their minds. If they’re seeing your tweets about car buying every day and suddenly become in need of a new car, they’re more likely to think of you – and convert into a sale.

2. Wider reach/organic traffic

The more posts you have, the more chances you have for people to discover your social media accounts (and also your website and contact information). This can lead to more social follows (i.e. more people seeing your message) that could potentially convert, and Google even gives a small SEO boost to websites whose social media accounts have been recently active.

3. They know you’re in business

If I go to a company’s social media page and see they haven’t posted since June 2015, I assume they’re out of business. And if I see that they’ve only posted sporadically (three days in a row, then a two-month gap, then once a week for three weeks …), my automatic assumption is that they’re not organized, staffed, or funded enough to post regularly and therefore not organized, staffed, or funded enough to handle my business. Sporadic social media hurts your brand reputation. Consistent social media is good for it.

Conclusion: A case study

I spent two years as the social media specialist at a local Century 21 office (and helped them move from #2 in the United States to #1). Before I started, they posted sporadically, with posts every other day for a little bit, then large gaps. The first thing I did when I took over, even before I got into planning a strategy, was posting good information regularly – three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I didn’t have time to nail down a Facebook strategy for another year, but even with just a year of posting consistently, the page likes almost doubled. That’s just from regular posting – no strategy involved!

I’m not saying you don’t need a strategy. What I’m saying is that if you’re just starting out, or even if you’ve been working at it for a while but aren’t sure how to make a strategy, consistent posting can be your strategy while you’re learning how to develop and implement a more sophisticated strategy. Consistent posting works! (And if you have trouble with posting consistently, a content calendar and scheduling tools can help.)