(Good) photos help with social media engagement

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Photos increase engagement on social media. There have been daily – or so – studies on this. So some of us run to one of the many stock image services, buy images that look somewhat related to whatever we just blogged about and share them on social media.

And we see the clicks rolling in. Maybe. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes it may have been a rock star headline or super interesting topic and not the image responsible for the engagement!

Certainly, stock images don’t help us stand out at all. Five other organizations bought the same image and their updates are surrounding ours. Certainly, the social media user won’t engage with one update or another based on the same photo.

At the very least, using stock images won’t help us be authentic and unique:

I don’t like my Twitter profile photo so I went and bought a stock image of somebody better looking. Ha. See!

Sometimes, people say: We read the studies and tried using more photos – stock photos. It didn’t work. It didn’t work most likely because users can figure out the difference between authentic and real photos and (some) stock images.

When I chit chat online and offline about the overuse of stock art images, I often get push back:

Using stock images is so much easier, I hear.

I don’t disagree.

Stock images get the point across, is another response.

They might but the rest of the story is so authentic, unique and interesting that a stock image can draw attention away from that.

Here’s an awesome original story and let me put a generic photo next to it because people say that photos work.

Getting good photos can take time. I get it. But with many of us carrying smartphones around, it’s easy enough to take a quick photo to illustrate a story. Any photo that we take is at the least more original than the one we bought off a stock site.

How do you get a good photo?

Yes, it’s more work and yet another thing to remember when we are looking for stories and documenting them. But when the photo does illustrate the story, it makes an already strong story presented through words so much more powerful.