It’s official. Crap stock image use poops on social media results


Few will be surprised by this statement. So why haven’t more acted on this knowledge in recent years? It is as if some marketers have been caught in a cavity of boring and until someone senior to them instructs otherwise, inside the cavity they will stay.

Some years ago, B2Bs started using stock imagery featuring wooden poses. B2Cs decided an overuse of equally boring pack shots was the way forward. As no one intervened at the time, boring image use proliferated and an unofficial industry standard was born.

Fast-forward to today and businesses are still using the same boring content.

In my latest Serious Social Live I delved into the frustrating topic. A topic that I am passionate about (as any of our clients will attest). Normally, to emphasise just how poor stock images can be, I would usually display a few images on screen and talk through the failings. Minutes later, clients acknowledge the faults and we discuss new creative direction.

To orate this point over live video, when the majority of tools don’t permit sharing of images on screen (whilst video is enabled) is problematic. I was going to have to act out certain scenes. And poorly act I did.

So, whether your intention is to listen to a valid social insight, or merely get your daily lockdown laugh at my expense, you should probably cast an eye. I try to act out ‘Cloud Computing’, ‘Data’ and ‘Office’ – and you thought your charades selection at Christmas was a challenge…

Jokes aside this is a really poignant topic. Too many businesses have become caught in a rut of stock image use. They have a false impression that audiences find it professional, or it’s the content they’re accustomed to seeing. The reality is your audience isn’t seeing the crap content because you’ve bored them many, many moons ago.

B2Cs aren’t immune from my pointed criticism either. Whilst they may not use stock imagery to the same extent, they chose to overuse pack shots. Why anyone thought a pack shot on creative was a good look is beyond me. It’s as if someone said: “we need people to recognise the brand and product. I know, let’s put a picture of the packet in the Ad.”

Reply: “but that will make the advert look crap and busy!”

“Nah, it’s fine. We need people to recognise the product, so they can find it in-store!”

And so, the overuse of pack-shots was born. And because people had decided that was the way forward, industry followed for many, many, many years. Yawn.

In my Serious Social Live, which you can view here: I detail the more impactful content B2Bs should be using – we even spill the beans on some wonderful examples, and, I talk-through the importance of consumer brands, particularly FMCGs, getting their content fixed correctly and sending a customer into store on a voyage of discovery. It can be done – we’re doing it for brands right now! The strategic importance of aligning content to shopper mission and subsequent buying intent, starts with customer activation. If you’re not activating a consumer with impactful and thought-provoking content, then you’re joining the masses relying solely on the failed equation of ‘dwell time + browsing = our numbers’. The faux equation will result in category decline, not financial impact.

My 17-minute piece is packed full of data and insight and shares tangible examples of how things can be done differently. As with all of our Serious Social Lives, this isn’t about us voicing criticism for the sake of a view or two. It’s about helping industry and giving back during a time of continued lockdown. We want you all to join our IF led army of ‘Breaking the Social Boring’ and making content great again. Ok, so that last part sounded alarmingly like a political statement but hopefully you get the message. Join us! It’s so much fun not being boring – and the results aren’t crap either!!..

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, then we would love to hear it.

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