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Aruba, July 10, 2013 - The Internet generation desires “instant gratification and quick fixes”, and suffers from a “loss of patience and lack of deep thinking”. Taken from the Pew Internet and American Life Report: Imagining the Internet.

But anybody working in marketing knew that, right? Surely anyone doing anything online should already be placing images and multimedia at the heart of what they do?

We are seeing this across the board – from the explosion of image-centric magazine sites like BuzzFeed, to Facebook buying Instagram for $1billion – it’s hard to overstate the importance of images in any brand’s digital strategy. For starters, they are often the most succinct way to communicate with today’s attention-deficient online audiences. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Including a relevant image can have far more impact than lengthy status updates, text-only announcements and press releases. Marketing agency Skyword did a study of online news content and found that stories enjoy 94% more views when accompanied by a single relevant image.

But even if you’re already sold on the value of including images in your news and content, it is easier said than done. So here are a few tips for anyone struggling to source or create images to enhance their communications.

Use the work of others – but check the rights

When you need an image in a hurry it’s tempting to jump onto Google Images, do a few searches and see what catches your eye. But of course many of the images will be copyrighted, so aren’t free to use. To find images you can freely use, you need to use the advanced search and tick the usage rights option that says, “free to use or share, even commercially”. Even then, please do credit the original photographer.

The same applies with Flickr – the world’s largest photo sharing site. Go to the advanced search and select “Creative Commons: find content to use commercially.”

Often it’s worth paying for stock photography. If you want to buy photos and use them without restrictions, make sure you search for “royalty free”. Take a look at sites like Alamy, Shutterstock, iStockphoto and 123RF – you need to find the cost/quality ratio you are comfortable with.

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