3 Steps for Choosing the Right Image for Social
Today, social media is par for the course if a brand wants to differentiate itself from competitors and showcase its values. And, more often than not, witty copy isn’t enough to stand out from the pack. You know you need the right images to bring your social media accounts to life. In fact, 80% of marketers said they use visuals assets in their social media marketing, and research shows that tweets with images receive a whopping 150% more retweets.
This is all easier said than done. When brands want to use images on social media, they can run into a plethora of metaphorical roadblocks. Is an image from that article on your website fair game to post on social media? Do you have to give credit to the photographer everywhere you post the image? Or do your usage rights allow you to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn without giving credit anywhere?
In this article we’ll break down some common misconceptions about licensing images for social media so you can feel empowered to create your best content.
Know thy platform
The most important thing to realize is that every social media site has different terms and conditions. Pinterest, for example, requires the user to be solely responsible for everything they post. The company has a team that monitors and responds to copyright complaints and will remove your image if they realize you don’t have the rights to post it. Instagram, similarly, requires users to be solely responsible for every image uploaded—meaning, each user (including a brand) is responsible for securing the appropriate usage rights or appropriately crediting the original creator. The site encourages users to ask themselves:
- “Did I create all of the content myself?”
- “Do I have permission to use all of the content included in my post?”
- “Does the use of the content fall within an exception to copyright infringement?”
- “Is the content protected by copyright?”
Remember, just because you can “right click” on an image and save it to a folder on your computer, doesn’t mean you have permission to use it—doing so could expose you to the risk of a copyright infringement claim. If you want to use images by other photographers across social media platforms, consider getting a license for the images from a stock photo agency. Once you select an image, check the fine print and make sure it includes social and digital usage rights, and the right to use the asset for commercial or promotional campaigns (if necessary).
Make it yours
As social media has evolved, so too has the content. Where images used to be enough to stand out, now more users have stepped up their social media game by posting GIFs (an image animation that stands for Graphics Interchange Format) or memes. Every day, in fact, 23 million GIFs are posted to Tumblr. But are they legal? While individuals have a lot more freedom to post GIFs or memes from images, both brands and individuals are subject to FTC guidelines in the US. FTC guidelines stipulate that the endorsement, sponsorship, or paid post has to be disclosed in an obvious way (hence the inclusion of “#ad” on an increasing number of posts). So if you want to use a stock photo in a commercial or endorsement campaign, it’s important to make sure the images are licensed for commercial use.
When a brand posts a GIF or meme (or even retweets one from a user), they could be implying an endorsement or sponsorship that doesn’t actually exist if, for example, the content includes a celebrity or professional athlete. GIFs and memes, while creative and often worthy of a laugh, are still subject to copyright law with the original creator in most cases requiring credit. Brands especially should be careful when retweeting and reposting content, or when creating GIFs or memes, because the post itself could indicate endorsement which the creator of the original content may not approve. Brands must respect the rights of privacy and publicity and cannot use a person’s likeness for commercial purposes without their consent—even when retweeting or sharing a funny GIF or meme.
Instead of risking retribution, brands can rely on Getty Images for exclusive royalty-free content to make commercial campaigns stand out. A Getty Images plan can also offer specific licensing exclusive to social and digital use cases.
Choosing the right agreement
From coverage across social media platforms to proper indemnification, securing the right usage rights is arguably one of the most important aspects of any image licensing agreement. Your license will specify the type of media, territory, duration, and permitted editorial or commercial uses for the visual assets.
Getty Images offers a variety of plans and credit packs that grant broad usage rights with access to millions of exclusive, high-quality images and video. For example, a Getty Images’ Premium Access Signature plan grants access to curated image collections specifically with creative teams in mind, securing the appropriate rights ahead of time for beautiful images in remote locations or unique photo shoots that can help commercial campaigns shine.
Learn more about a Getty Images plan so you can secure the images you need to keep your followers happy.