It’s no secret: posting images on social is good for your brand. On Facebook, posts with images get more than double the engagement of posts without them. Across platforms, articles including relevant images get 94 percent more views.

Still, when choosing what images to include in your next post, getting more clicks isn’t the only thing that matters. You also want to create a high-quality experience for those engaging with your small business. The best way to do both: use real photos (taken by yourself or a professional photographer) instead of stock photos (pulled from a pre-existing bank of images).

Below, learn why using real images is better for your brand and get some tips on taking high-quality photos with your phone.

  1. Real images resonate better with your audience.

    Many stock photos are too general or bland to allow users to connect with your company. Some may even misrepresent your work. Stock photos are also available to anyone, so the same image can (and often does!) show up on the posts or pages of multiple businesses. In contrast, original images showcase the office spaces, staff, and products your audience will genuinely see when interacting with your business. They’re more eye-catching and memorable and can allow for more authentic engagement with your brand.

  1. Real images help build your unique brand story.

    Like a well-crafted logo, real images can help personalize your brand. Making intentional choices in filters and lighting when you take original photos can give your brand a specific, recognizable “look.” When deciding what picture to include with a post, you might also envision a particular image that you’re (probably) not going to find in a stock image database. Original photos help you tell your brand’s story just as you want to.

  1. Real images let you oversee quality control. 

    When using stock photos, quality can quickly become an issue if you need to alter the images for your intended use. Many printers charge additional fees to re-format images. When using original images, you have complete oversight of quality control and can always re-shoot if an image isn’t perfect. Hiring a professional photographer can also ensure photo quality. (Though, as we’ll discuss below, you can also use your phone camera to capture high-quality images.) 

  1. Real images allow you to avoid costly licensing fees. 

    Though there are several free stock photo repositories, others come with hefty licensing fees. Plus, although some databases are free to use, sometimes the photos themselves are not. If unaware of licensing fees, you could pay fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Using real images lets you avoid licensing issues altogether.  

  1. Real images are better for SEO. 

    Including real images can help your business in image-based search rankings. When someone performs an image search—like on Google Images—each resulting image is typically linked to a single page. So, if one of the stock photos you use shows up as a result, there’s no guarantee that it will be linked to your social pages or website, rather than another page using the same stock image. Having content that is uniquely yours ensures that your content will be connected, and the traffic from image searches can indirectly help your ranking in standard search results.

Some tips for taking high-quality photos on your phone camera:

  • Take time to set up: Turn off HDR, choose a place with the most natural lighting possible, and lock in exposure settings by tapping and holding the brightest part of the screen.
  • Remember the Rule of ThirdsThe most important elements in your image should be placed along lines that divide the image into horizontal and vertical thirds. Most phones have a grid feature you can turn on to help you visualize this.
  • Know the “big three” of editing: Brightness, color, and saturation should be of primary focus when editing your photos, especially if you’re a beginner. Both free and paid editing software can help.

Need help taking and incorporating original images—and videos—into your social media strategy? Reach out to One Part Social today to learn more.