Creating your own social media content is now easier than ever. With a little bit of creativity, attention to detail and tech savvy skills, you can compile eye-catching posts and work up a following. If you are an SME business owner, a major pro of ‘doing it yourself’ is saving money, that is of course if you have the capacity to be consistent with your online marketing initiates .

On the other hand, cons of DIY social media are that you might not actually have a clue what you are doing (no shame in that), not know how to plan your content, risk lacking originality and potentially damage your brand with cost saving DIY antics (I wonder If you would design your own billboard erected on the NEX Highway that probably has less traffic than a potential Facebook advert?).

For those companies who do want to manage their online presence on their own, my biggest advice is not to use (free?!) google images as besides the quality issues, there are Copyright and Ownership issues to deal with. The temptation to browse Google Images and just use an image that best suits your needs can be quite high. However, those images are not free for the taking. They belong to people—and using one without permission could land you in a lot of legal trouble. (happened to one of our local clients!)

Which brings us to the use of Stock Photography. Simply put, stock photography is existing photos (already created) that is immediately available via stock image sites to use for creating content. In another sense, stock photography is like buying clothing from an affordable, popular clothing brand, i.e. you won’t be the only person wearing that design.

Some points to consider when using stock photos:

Affordable and Instant

If you don’t have the time or the budget to do a photo shoot and capture original images, then stock photos come in handy. It’s also available for instant download saving you time and money. If you are a small business entrepreneur with a tight budget, stock photos can help fill in gaps and create meaty content at pretty decent quality. This could be used for brochures, adverts and social platforms.

It’s not Original

As mentioned, you can find great photos from stock photography sites but it’s highly likely that you’ll see the same photos elsewhere, as will your audience. Your website and/or socials risk being boring and ‘common’. Creating fresh, original content is always the most effective route to go.

Quality can be Compromised

Even though stock photos are good quality these days, some images (especially from free stock sites) might have poor resolution or can look pixelated when adjusted. This will immediately negatively affect your content.

As a design company it is very frustrating to receive images from clients to use on their website and social media pages that are of a poor quality (pixels / size) and from a creative (or lack thereof) photography element. It compromises the quality of our design skills, and outcome of our creative campaign implementation.

We would much rather use a good quality stock image than a poor-quality original photo. Client often ask us to get images off their supplier websites or cut out of PDF catalogues which also causes tremendous quality challenges. The size of the photo will determine where and how we can use it e.g. a small pixel image might be appropriate to be used on a small Facebook design, but impossible to use on a website layout.

So, should you be doing your own design work, or outsourcing please prioritise the quality of the images you use for marketing. If your target market does not associate quality with your marketing, they won’t associate quality with your product and services.