Lions Head Inc.

Death to Stock Images

Representing your brand with stock images is like using a fake profile picture on a dating app; everybody knows it’s not real and will swipe past it. 

Just like dating apps, people want to see authentic content from brands. Using fake stock photos to represent your brand does NOT make your brand look professional, nor will it boost engagement or increase SEO rankings. Your customers know it’s a fake photo and so does Google. Customers now more than ever want to see original content that is engaging. 

Let’s compare a post using a stock photo to a post using a real photo to see the different effect it has on the viewer.


We are going to display this difference as a theoretical pizza restaurant called Little Nero’s Pizza. Let’s say it’s a Friday and you want to make a Facebook post to encourage customers to come in for dinner after work. Both posts will use the same caption, but different pictures.    

Stock Photo

Because that picture was taken straight from a restaurant’s table, right? 

Besides the fact that this pizza is sitting directly on a table without a pizza tray underneath, there are plenty of tell tale signs that this is not an actual picture of a restaurant’s pizza. The dim lighting and the cheese beautifully stringing off the pizza may look aesthetically pleasing, but it screams fake. As a customer, this image would make me think about pizza or potentially buy a pizza from the grocery store.

Real Photo

Now, this is a real picture of a restaurant’s pizza. This photo highlights delicious pizza along with showing the viewer what the atmosphere is like, and that craft beer is served. This photo says “come in and enjoy pizza and beer with friends after a long week of work” 

This comparison SHOWS the power a visual has, which brings us to the first rule of creating engaging content:

Show, don't tell

Viewers remember 95% of a message when it is watched and 10% when it is read. When customers process information paired with relevant images, they retain 65 % of the information three days later. Our brains process visual content much more easily than written words. What’s easier, reading 250 words or getting the same information from a picture?

That’s why it’s important to use a quality picture that is relevant to your desired message (definitely NOT a stock image). Visuals should be relevant to the message you are trying to send and should seek to provoke a feeling in the viewer.  

Use Videos

Videos grab and hold attention more than any other form of advertisement. Viewers remember 95% of a message when it is watched and 10% when it is read. 

Product or service videos not only grab a viewer’s attention but they boost conversation and produce a great ROI if executed correctly. In fact, 82% of people are more likely to share a video than static. Videos play to the show, not tell rules in a way other forms of advertisements can’t. Videos are increasingly dominating digital traffic and are a marketing weapon to effectively share your product or service with a viewer (and boost sales).   

Incorporate relevant topics for your target audience

Not all posts have to be strictly about the product or service that you sell. A company’s brand image consists of a combination of the associations consumers make based on every interaction they have with your brand.  

Integrating trending topics into your brand’s posts is the perfect way to drive engagement and connect with your customers. 

Let’s say we’re Little Nero’s Pizza again trying to make an engaging post and one of the largest trending topics in your target audience is The Queen’s Gambit.  

This creates the perfect opportunity to dim the lights, turn on The Queen’s Gambit, grab a beer, and light a candle with Little Nero’s Pizza delivery on the table. Now, take a picture of the lovely aesthetic you’ve just created and post it to Facebook to advertise that Little Nero’s Pizza has delivery. 

Add a simple caption and use the trending hashtags: The Friday night we’re all daydreaming about.  #Queen’sGambit #LittleNeros #FridayNightPizza 

Know your audience

The questions you need to ask yourself while creating content: 

  • What social media platform does my target demographic use?
  • What time are they the most active?
  • What topics are trending among the target demographic?

Basically, do your research to figure out the best message at the right time to reach your audience. If you are trying to reach middle aged women, you’re going to want to post content on  Facebook that speaks to your audience. Different social media platforms require a different tone of voice. Brand content posted on Facebook should not be the same as content posted on Twitter because a different audience is interacting with it. 

Tell a story

Today, it is not enough to just have a quality product or service. Customers choose brands that they connect with. Storytelling marketing uses a narrative to communicate a message to your audience. It humanizes a brand and engages viewers and ultimately helps customers understand why they should care about your product or service. 

Creating a narrative for your brand helps you stand out and connect with customers on a deeper level by making them feel something. Turning your message into a story makes information simple to understand and while provoking an emotional response. This makes content more memorable and creates a brand image that is original. No brand has the same story, right? 

According to Forbes (2019), brand narratives are 22 times more memorable than facts. You can craft narratives to share your brand’s history, goals, challenges, and authentic features, etc. If your business began from learning a skill from a parent, that can be turned into a heartfelt bonding narrative that connects with customer’s personal stories.  

Goal is to make the reader feel something and take action.