I have been at the website owning game for awhile. The face of the internet had certainly changed a lot during that time, in some ways more than I ever would have imagined. Social media is an especially crucial adaption, and on a wider scale the way that social media has shifted the way people use and perceive the web. Certain things are just expected now, and one great example of that is the use of images along with other content.
While the web used to be mostly centered around message boards and alts for user friendly communication, sites like Facebook have changed everything. But now there is another new kid on the block that has been gaining a lot of traction: Pinterest. Along with Instagram, Flickr and other image centric sites, they have shown that what the people want are more visual. There is a lot of potential in providing that need to the average internet user.
One thing many people have had a hard time doing that with has been image licensing and use. There are so many different guidelines to follow, so many different licensing types, so many rules that apply to each image differently. It is enough to drive me insane, and my search for clarity has led me to really narrowing down where I have found photos in the past. Something that my blog posts have suffered for, as sometimes I have used barely relevant images when I have been unable to find something that works.
Lately, I have been getting the hang of it. I thought I would break it down to the very basics, making this the clear image use and optimization guidelines for all those who have been as confused as I was.
We will start out by addressing the different forms of image licensing and what they meant. There are four basic creative commons image types, three of which require proper attribution to be given.
# 1. Attribution (No Derivatives) License
A No Deriv license refers to any changes you might want to make to the image. You cannot add anything, take away anything or interfere with the photo in any way. Everything that it is applied to must be done ‘as-is’. However, the fair use laws are not at all effected, and so you can use it for parodies, satire or comparison.
# 2. Attribution (Non Commercial, No Derivatives) License
This is the stickiest form of licensing, because no one seems to know what it means. “Commercial” could be any number of things, from a product to a blog. It is so difficult to decide whether something qualifies as a commercial endeavor, or just benefited in a way that could be marked as profitable under a legal definition. Which is why many creative commons users avoid anything with the Non-Com tag.
There is a lot of debate over what qualifies as an acceptable enhancement under the No-Deriv licenses. It is usually agreed that small, subtle changes are alright. These include cropping, brightness adjustments, sharpening and (most importantly) saving for the web. It also means resizing, which most agree is fine.
However, the final product has to be recognizable as the original, and could not be mistaken for an original work in any way. So adding things to the image such as text, Photoshopping the image or even adding in something simple like a border is likely going to break the conditions of the license.
Here, you can do anything you like with the image itself, including making your own original work. But when you do, the image you make has to immediately be listed under the same Share Alike license, therefore giving others access to your work for their own.
# 4. Public Domain License
This is an image that has been posted by a public agency, had the license for copyright expire or was released by the creator into the public name. All use is allowed, for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. No one owns the rights to the photo, as the name suggests they are ‘public’.
At the very least, you should be integrating images into your marketing plan. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Start using Pinterest. If you aren’t already on the site, you should definitely sign up for an account. It is the fastest growing social media site around, and a great way to market your website images (and even beyond that) while spreading content a lot further. Here’s a guide on optimizing your images for Pinterest as well as a more detailed one on making images Pinterest-friendly. [Related: The Importance Of Being Pinnable]
- Utilize more image marketing channels as well! You should be using all of the sites available for your images. Flickr, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, your blog… these are all easy ways to improve your visibility by reposting for everyone who might be following a different profile. There’s an awesome article listing best image managing plugins courtesy of Wordpress tutorials.
- Utilize infographics. Studies have shown that infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than their text counterparts. Not only that, but the search terms ‘infographic’ and ‘infographics’ are searched for in Google alone 547,000 times per month, and provide a 12% increase in traffic.
- Show your products. For those who sell products online, you can show high quality photos of what you have on sale to help boost products. This is an awesome option for social media marketing, as you gain further profits through others sharing content, or hitting ‘like’ and having the image come up on their feed for friends to see.
- Show who you are. You can post photos of yourself and your staff to give a more intimate picture of your brand or website. Since you are looking to build an actual relationship, the first step is through personalized engagement.
- Ask users to get involved. Many companies and sites have increased visibility and created brand loyalty through asking users to submit their own photos. These could be to share in a post, on a social media page or even as a contest. You would be amazed by the amount of photos you will receive if you ask for them.
The trick here is to provide high quality images as content, no matter what the use. Be sure you use proper lighting, a good quality camera, proper angles and details to make your photos work for you. You can also use things like cellphone pictures, but make sure these are candid and have a point, like showing something spontaneous that is sure to amuse or entertain your customer base.
Do you have a tip for using images in marketing? Share them in our comments below.
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