To Stock Photo or Not to Stock Photo?

When it comes to selecting a photo to post on social media, there are a few options to consider. Whether it’s stock, professional, or real-life photography, photos are probably the most engaging content on social media. It’s important to consider what it is you are posting before sharing and how it’s going to resonate with your audience. First, think what your objective is for the post. Will it be inspiring, tell a story, feature a new product or service, or show off your staff? Depending on what you’ve picked that will determine what kind of photo you should post.


Stock Photography

Stock photo websites are a library for photos with various themes and subjects. They can be great for creating content for your marketing needs and another alternative to professional photography.

(Guy: What do you mean this looks like a stock photography fight?!)

Pros: These websites are convenient and fast for creating a post with great looking photos. They’re also fantastic for secondary content like banners, frames, and backgrounds.


Cons: It can be easy to distinguish if a photo is stock or not. Also, there is usually a cost to purchasing stock photography, which can add up, especially if you need to purchase a subscription. If you are looking for something specific, the odds can be slim for finding exactly what you need to describe your product or service. There’s also a possibility of your competitor using the same the photo – because chances are they liked the photo just as much as you!


*Ever heard the name Rebecca Ariane Givens? If not, you’ve probably seen her in multiple stock photos used by various businesses including food, fitness, and so much more. Give the name a Google, you’ll see what we’re talking about.


When to Use: Stock photos are best used for generic content or conventional purposes. You can still be creative with stock photos, especially for web designs when not all the content has been created for the final product. Just make sure that those photos are eventually replaced. Stock photos are also great when you want to create post that’s inspiring or generic (eg. Use a stock background with text overlay as a quote).


Professional Photography

When you hire a professional photographer to capture your products, services, and business.

Pros: Bring your business to life visually with stunning photography. You can ensure that what you are posting is an exact reflection of your business. Using your own photos also creates trust between you and your target audience. People are 45% more likely to engage with your content when they can tell that it’s genuine and comes from you.


Cons: This requires planning and choosing the right photographer to capture your brand. You’ll also need to provide guidance on products and services and direction on the way you want them to be portrayed. Time plays a bigger factor. First you need to hire the photographer, schedule a date and time for the shoot(maybe multiple times), conduct the photo shoot, editing the photos, and then receive the final product.


When to Use: It’s always recommended to use professional photography but it’s important to keep your library updated. If you keep reusing the same photography for your posts your audience could become bored with your content. If cost is a concern, using real photos will eventually pay for itself in the long run.



Real-Life Photography

These are photos that are typically shot with a mobile device and has little to no editing.

(SOS Media Corp team being real-life cuties)

Pros: This is a fast and easy way to post a photo. They’re easy to post in real-time to social media. Real life photos are perfectly imperfect and authentic, which people can easily recognize. Shows the real side of your business, even if there is a screen between you.


*Have you ever noticed the difference in engagement when you post a photo you took with your phone versus a stock or professional photo? This is typically because your audience recognizes the real-ness of the photo. Facebook also can recognize these types of photos you’re posting and will adjust its algorithm so it reaches more people, which equals more engagement.


Cons: It can lack that professional quality depending on the quality of mobile phone camera. It doesn’t always highlight the best qualities you want to showcase for you brand.


When to Use:  This is great for behind the scenes or taking photos at an event. If you want to show your audience the real side of your business take a photo with your mobile device. Just ensure that your lens is clean and in focus on the subject(s).