Sandra is a small business owner. She runs a small coffee shop near the beach that also doubles as a yoga studio. It’s the perfect combination of relaxation and a quiet work environment, and she enjoys catering to wellness-minded individuals.

Sandra recently began marketing her shop locally using the paid search on Google and a few social media promotions. Her goal is to increase the traffic to her shop and also to sell monthly yoga class memberships, which also give her customers access to free and discounted coffee drinks.

But Sandra isn’t seeing much return on her investment in all of this promotion. She takes a look through her social media and doesn’t see anything wrong. She has plenty of pictures on her feed, though some of them are stock photos of people doing yoga and drinking coffee because she doesn’t have a nice camera. The way she looks at it, stock photos are better than nothing.

But is this actually true?

To some extent, quality stock photography can fill in the gaps on a brand’s content calendar. Stock photography is easy to come by, as many photographers supply their photos to databases for a nominal fee and allow the photos to be used commercially and for marketing purposes.

But using too much stock photography can dilute the messaging of a brand. If a brand only uses stock photos, users will start to notice. This can lead to a perceived lack of authenticity in the brand’s feed, which will cause users to slow down on interacting with posts.

This is one area that Sandra can improve in. Photography can be expensive, but it’s often a worthwhile cost because of the content it can provide. Creating content is not a simple task, and often calling in the help of a professional can help alleviate the stress of coming up with original content ideas.

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And hiring a photographer can provide months’ worth of content. Let’s say Sandra hired a photographer to come out for the morning’s yoga sessions. The photographer can take a set amount of images that can then be divided up and utilized for social media and website content. These images will give users a true and authentic peek into Sandra’s coffee shop and yoga studio and entice them to go check it out.

The photos don’t need to come exclusively from a photographer, either! Now, the cameras on our mobile phones are of higher quality than ever before. This means that quality photos can be produced from virtually anywhere, as long as the person behind the lens knows the basics.

Good photos should be well-lit, with natural light if possible, and should not have busy backgrounds. For example, Sandra could use her iPhone’s Portrait mode to take artsy, tasteful photos of the various coffee drinks that her barista concocts.

Particularly on social media platforms such as Instagram, aesthetics are important. Users are discerning when it comes to what they find attractive. Believe it or not, it’s relatively easy to suss out whether or not a brand is only using stock imagery.

Sandra will be pleased with the authentic boost that some quality photos can bring to her platform. With just a bit of investment into good quality images, any business can improve their marketing assets and attract even more customers than before.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5WPR. 5W Public Relations is headquartered in New York City.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.