I read a blogger recently stating that lawyers don't get much business from Facebook or other social media. He cited a "study" he'd performed of his own clients. Interestingly, a click-through to his company website showed he does not provide social media marketing services. Just a guess here, but if his lawyer-clients are not using social media ... it follows that they won't get any new clients from it, right?
IMS clients use social media, and overall we see good results from these efforts. In addition to generating new business, social media also is great for driving traffic to websites, boosting website performance on search engines, and establishing stronger relationships with clients, referral sources, and prospective clients.
One piece of advice we always give new clients is to include photos in their social media posts. According to The Social Media Examiner, "Of all the types of content you can share, photos give the best results. Photos are most engaged with and reach the most people."
In fact, "Photos often get from 5 to 20 times as much interaction as any other type of Facebook post." (Read the full article, titled 5 Ways to Improve Your Facebook News Feed Exposure, which includes some great photo usage tips.)
As valuable as photos are to your social media marketing, however, there is a catch. It's called a copyright! If you click over to Google and perform an Images search, you can easily find new images ... but most of them are NOT available for your free use. In fact, most of them are licensed by image brokers such as Getty Images ... and some of these brokers get really nasty about their copyrights. While the average copyright-holder will send a cease-and-desist warning letter if you violate their copyright, these guys have turned copyright infringement into a lucrative business. Grab a Getty-licensed image and use it on your blog, and you will probably find a nasty demand letter in your mailbox -- and a bill for around $1,000!
Read more about Getty (and others) at http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/ . Image brokers use sophisticated software (see http://www.picscout.com/) to troll the web and find copyright violations. I think it's a given that if you use a Getty image without the proper licensing, you will eventually get caught in their web.
So, what is a social media marketing guru to do? Stop using images altogether?
Absolutely not! Images are just too valuable for you to ignore.
We suggest one of two options (or a combination of these):
- Buy Licenses. The first, and easiest (in my opinion) is to get an image subscription to a reputable image broker like Big Stock Photo. For $69/month, you can download up to five images -- of any size, including high-resolution -- every single day. That's a lot of image power! Their search mechanism is super easy to use, and with your subscription, images can cost you as little as 35-cents each. If that's way too many images for you (but if you're blogging daily, it probably isn't!), then opt for their credit paks. You'll pay more per image, but still only about $2 to $3 per image. To me, this is cheap insurance against a copyright violation, and means I always have great photos to use and share. (In fact, I'm using a Big Stock image with this post!)
If you choose Big Stock, remember that you are only purchasing the right to license the use of the image for a single project, you are NOT purchasing the image. And, from their FAQs page: "You are required to license an image each time you use it in a new product or project. For example when you download a Bigstock image, you have purchased the license to use it in one project or product. If you use an image in 2 web site designs and 1 business card design for your clients, then you should have purchased it 3 times."
- Search for FREE Images Online. Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of free images available online -- but you won't find them using a Google Images search! Hop on over to Computer Hope for a list of their favorite sites with free images.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Stock Exchange - http://www.sxc.hu/
- Microsoft Office free images and clipart -http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx
- StockVault - http://www.stockvault.net/
Personally, I would rather pay the monthly subscription price to quickly find the images I need and never have to worry about copyright violations than spend hours searching all over the web for a free image that would save me a dollar or two. But that's just me.
Bottom Line: Use images freely in your blog and social media marketing ... but be certain you have legal permission first!