10 Most Overused B2B Marketing Stock Photos

November 1, 2017

Vince Vaughn Stock Photo

When online consumers see headlines and links flying past them, nothing stands out from the pack quite like a compelling image. As HubSpot points out, images increase the retweets of Twitter content by 150 percent. For Facebook, images increase share rates by 230 percent. At LinkedIn, we've also found that using eye-catching rich media in the feed increases engagement rate and click-through rate. Time and time again, the LinkedIn marketing team recommends using high-quality images judiciously.

Humans process visual information faster than text-based information, which means that the image for every piece of published content is your opportunity to make a first impression. No matter how strong a headline you craft, strong visual appeal can only help.

But this endless demand for compelling images has carved some deep ruts for B2B marketing. It’s easy to fall into bad habits, and almost any veteran marketer can attest to the problem of depending on certain images that have become a kind of cliché of themselves. Last year, the LinkedIn Marketing EMEA team conducted a survey to identify the five most overused types of B2B stock photos. The results were as insightful as they were groan-inducing.

Now, we’d like to highlight those five winners and add five more examples of our own. First, the winners from the EMEA survey:

We thought it’d be fun to double our colleagues’ list. Think twice before using the following stock photos.

6. The Plant to Symbolize Lead Nurturing

Is this the only image we can think of to symbolize growth? Plants and seedlings may have decent eye-appeal, but they’ve become a crutch for any content marketer creating a story about growth and development.

7. The Chessboard

We get it. Strategy takes brainpower. But pairing any strategy article with chessboard images is mental laziness at its finest.

8. The Person Smiling at Their Phone

We all love our phones—probably too much. But the visual impact of this type of image doesn’t register for many consumers nowadays, possibly because it’s an all-too-familiar sight. (Also, what could possibly be so funny?)

9. The Outlier

Stories about targeting and personalization are often paired with this type of image, which symbolizes the individual standing out from the crowd. Sure, it gets the point across, but it’s predictably unimaginative.

10. The Hands on the Keyboard

This type of image is guilty of being so vague that it could apply to almost anything. Not only has it worn out its welcome as a stock image cliché, but it also doesn’t do anything for the appeal of your content.

Tips for Finding Good Stock Images

You know the stock images pitfalls to avoid, but how do you find great images without breaking the bank? Here are some tips:

Scour reputable online sources for high-quality, free stock photos. The brands providing this service are increasing, and it’s easier than you might think to find high-quality photos at no extra cost. Two such examples are Unsplash and Death to the Stock Photo, both of which send out email newsletters featuring new, high-quality images. Other free high resolution image sourcing and editing tools can be found in this infographic.

If using a stock photo library, go beyond the first five pages of results. Most content creators might settle for the first images to pop up in a search, but this likely means that their images will be used by other publishers, too. Moving past the first pages of results will expose you to images that aren’t as well-worn by other creators.

Lean in to experimentation. Get creative about how to represent abstract thoughts and concepts. If an image’s connection to the content’s subject is only indirect, but the image itself has major eye appeal, it’s worth giving it a try. Only blatantly misrepresentative images are likely to get blowback from your audience. The potential rewards of an amazing image should be enough to motivate you to make bold decisions and see what works. Another great option: having a photoshoot with your team. 

Choosing great images can be a stressful process, especially when the clock keeps ticking and you’re still searching. But your content effectiveness rides on your ability to find a good fit. Be persistent and embrace your creative side, and you could uncover new image strategies while avoiding the photos that lost their swagger long ago.

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