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Good, Bad or Stupid: Why Quality Images Are Crucial to Your Content Marketing’s Success

Quality images are crucial to your content marketing success.

Remember when you were a kid and your favorite books were the ones with the brightest colors and “prettiest” pictures? Those images would lure you in and compel you to read the story. We’re all grown up now, but I don’t believe much has changed about the power behind visuals. I found some interesting statistics in this article from Hubspot:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual ( Source: 3M Corporation)
  • Visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. ( Source: Zabisco)
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)
  • Visual content drives engagement. In fact, just one month after the introduction of Facebook   timeline for brands, visual content — photos and videos — saw a 65% increase in engagement.
  • On Facebook, photos perform best for likes, comments, and shares as compared to text, video, and links. (Source: Dan Zarrella)

Many times, I’ve come across what could’ve been compelling content but missing that crucial visual aspect. It didn’t hold my attention. Not only is it important to include images, but they should also follow these rules:

  • Use Current, Quality Images: This is probably the rule I see broken most often, photos taken from a time when the average MP was around 2, outdated hairstyles and fashion are a dead give-away your digging in the archives.  I think this makes a brand lose credibility and leaves me wondering where else their cutting costs and if this is truly a quality product or service.
  • Be Brand Consistent: Stay true to your brand. Create style guidelines for your brand and always apply them to your content. Being consistent can go a long way. For example: Anthropologie’s content is immediately recognizable to their loyal customers and a testament to why their brand is so strong.
  •  Make Them Unique: If you use stock photos, make sure you’re staying away from the cliché types that consumers see too much of already. ( i.e. think of the “standard  “office scene” photos of people in suits sitting in a board meeting)
  • Keep it Relevant to the Content: How is the image supporting the product or service. Is it helping to support the story you’re trying to tell?

Say you’re writing an article about coffee, here some examples of the good, bad & the just plain stupid.


Good: Quality Image

Image: Moyan Brenn

This photo is well-styled and focus is on the subject matter. It creates a mood, and inspires the reader to drink coffee.


Bad: Quality Image

Image: Bev Sykes

This photo is clearly not professional, and shouldn’t be used in that context. There are other distracting elements, and poor image quality.


Stupid: Quality Images

Image: Håkan Dahlström

The technology in the images is outdated, the prominent feature is a blackberry and not the coffee. The coffee cup is dirty and unpleasant to look at.

If you’re unable to invest the time and money into creating your own images there are plenty of great stock photo/image options available. Some of our favorite sources here at Ciceron are:

Shutterstock: You can find just about anything you’re looking for here. They make it easy to avoid the traditional “stock looking” photos. This website is great for searching for commercially licensed photos that you can use for free with proper attribution. Just apply the filters for what you’re searching for, and you’re on your way. They typically show you the most relevant or best images right away, so you’ll spend less time browsing than you would on Flickr.

Flickr: You’ll have to go into advanced search and make sure you’re looking at just images in their ‘Creative Commons’. Their image search gives you larger previews of images than Compfight does, but there are a lot more… interesting photos to look through. Make sure you have your safe search on.

Google Image Search: Google Image search now has the ability to filter by commercial licensed images in their advanced search feature. Again, make sure you have your safesearch on, but you’ll get images that you won’t necessarily find on Compfight or Flickr.

I would love to hear about your favorite sources or any examples you may have of the good, bad or stupid.  Please comment or tweet me @vickik78.

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