Stop Using Stock & Increase Ecommerce Conversion In 2014
If your #ecommerce  website uses #stockphotography  and you want to make more money in 2014 then STOP USING STOCK. 

Stock photography, as +Brian Massey calls it "Business Porn", sends all the wrong messages:

* Inauthentic. 
* Boring.
* Cheap.

Everyone has a phone now and they are waiting for excuses to use their cameras as +Instagram proves. Challenge your tribe to help your website create the original content it needs to excite, tell stories and connect. 

Empower your tribe with #contests   #games  and #gamification . We love to compete, so challenge your tribe to flood your website with your products, ideas or philosophy in their lives.  

If you sell products YES you need solid product pictures, but who says those picture are the MOST important way to sell your products. Look at, a great ecom retailer but they have product pages of tents that all look the same. 

What if we used "hero" (largest image on a page is the "hero") images of forests, Yellowstone or the tent in action with customers? Don't those pictures tell better product stories than the same sterile studio image over and over effectively commoditizing everything to a indistinct average? 

Maybe one tent is better in cold, another in rain and yet another in bug infested summer. Can't better product photos, especially those from customers, tell those distinctions better? See how completely the stock photography ethos took over? Even a great retailer like REI thinks what we want is for everything to be boringly the same. 

In fact what we want is the HERO's JOURNEY. We want the picture of a group hanging of a rock face, clinging to a hot cup of tea and swaddled into their bag and tent. We want to know a product's extremes even if we never get close to experiencing them. 

This age is about the vicarious experience of others via the largest global storytelling medium ever imagined much less invented. In 2014 if you want your ecommerce site to do better, fix your photography. 

Why? Social has so changed our expectations and experience of the web merchants must recognize ideas such as boring stock are done, over and out and good riddance (lol). Tell stories, recognize heroes and ask for help from brand advocates, customers and people who love you. 

If you have to use stock use my favorite visual marketing tool +Haiku Deck  to mine the creative commons. The creative commons is a self renewing resource of authentic pictures. Don't depend on even such a brilliant source. Find ways to edit, cut or modify even Haiku Deck's great images to make them more yours. 

In the end no stock can beat the #UGC  truth you can create by a simple ASK. Ask your customers to share their visual impressions, ideas and pictures. Reward contributors with social recognition such as photo by tagline, profiles on your content network (where their contributions are noted) and other non-material rewards (read Pink's Drive for more on why you don't want to "pay" for such help as it insults the helper).

Bet your stock photography ban is worth a half a point of conversion at least. When I was an Ecom Directors a half a point of conversion was worth half a mill, not bad for doing the right thing at just the right time :). M  

BTW, won't consider the dogs pic "stock", great yes stock no. Stock has that "Stepford" quality to it. 
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