Let’s face it, stock photography is boring.

As consumers become inundated with marketing content, they increasingly resist anything that looks and feels inauthentic, which unfortunately describes much of traditional marketing and advertising. In fact, 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional marketing and 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than advertising.

Although there has been a growing resistance to traditional advertising, audiences are still willing to engage with brands that deliver a positive experience.

Satisfied customers are increasingly taking to social media to write, talk or post about products and brand experiences they love, and those social engagements are key for marketers. In fact, 66% of users rely heavily on such content when making a purchasing decision, according to a recent study, and 65% trust online word-of-mouth more than traditional advertising.

Even as the resistance to traditional marketing is growing, so is the availability of authentic and unfiltered content, including images, from social media. And that presents an opportunity.

Here are six reasons why it’s time to ditch stock photos in exchange for user-generated content.

1. We can’t all look like models

It’s hard to get a sense of a real-life product or experience when images of those products and experiences are too good to be true. After all, you can’t really picture yourself in a new piece of clothing if every image of that outfit features someone who looks nothing like you.

Consumers know that models can look good in just about anything, which is why it’s important to demonstrate how that same item looks on a range of body sizes, styles, ages, ethnicities, and shapes. Unfortunately, traditional marketing doesn’t easily lend itself to that sort of variety, but user-generated content does.

2. People are creating better imagery

The quality of user-generated content has increased significantly in recent years, with regular people now able to take brand-worthy photos. Part of the reason for the improvement is the gradually increasing quality of smartphone cameras, which now use sophisticated software to help users get the perfect shot every time.

Apple has built an entire campaign around images that are “shot on an iPhone” to demonstrate the shrinking margin between professional photography equipment and those pocket-sized devices.

Furthermore, those with even a casual interest in improving their photography skills have a wide range of affordable or even free resources to help them up their game. Local educational programs, online platforms like Skillshare and Masterclass, and video tutorials are spreading best-practices around and enabling more amateurs to capture higher-quality content. […]

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