The Best Stock Media for Social

The Best Stock Media for Social

Whether you're running a startup or managing a corporate brand, the need for compelling visuals and engaging content has never been more critical.

And with the rise of stock media platforms and AI technology, accessing premium media has become easier than ever before.

However, not all stock media is created equal.

And selecting the right content for your social media campaigns requires careful consideration and strategy.

The wrong image can send the wrong message. 

Testing over 10K+ social media campaigns in my 15+ corporate marketing career I'm an expert of finding the right image or video to match the right message and mood.

And before you think it only matters on visual first platforms like Instagram - think again.

When I was at LinkedIn we ran a ton of A/B testing on the platform and found what members looked at first was the 1) Imagery / videography  2) The Headline 3) The Caption. Posts with imagery and video have a 90% higher comment ratio.

In this article, we'll explore the nuances of stock media selection for social media marketing and I'll recommend some of our fav platforms that we use with clients.

Before we get started let's get our definitions on the table. 

What is Stock Media?

Stock media encompasses a wide range of digital assets, including photos, illustrations, videos, audio clips, and more. These assets are created by photographers, videographers, illustrators, and musicians and are made available for licensing through various online platforms.

Stock media platforms offer businesses and creators the flexibility to access professional-grade content without the time and resources required for in-house production.

The difference between paid stock media and free stock media

  • Paid Stock Media: When you purchase content from a paid stock media platform, you acquire a license that grants you the right to use the content for specific purposes. Paid licenses often provide more extensive usage rights, including commercial use, print reproduction, and unlimited distribution.
  • Free Stock Media: Free stock media platforms usually offer content under licenses such as Creative Commons or public domain. These licenses may have fewer restrictions than paid licenses, but they still come with certain limitations and requirements, such as attribution or non-commercial use. 

Selecting Stock Media for Social Media

When it comes to selecting stock media for social media marketing, several factors come into play:

  1. Relevance: The content you choose should align with your brand identity, messaging, and target audience. Consider the demographics and interests of your followers and select content that both depicts and resonates with them. You want to select content in their world not yours. 
  2. Authenticity: In the age of authenticity, users crave genuine and relatable content. Avoid overly staged, super premium or generic images and opt for visuals that feel raw, authentic and human. As we predicted in our 2024 Social Media trends LoFi is beating HiFi content. 
  3. Engagement Potential: Visual content is inherently more engaging than text alone. Look for stock media that has the potential to evoke emotion, spark curiosity, or encourage interaction among your audience.
  4. Consistency: Maintaining a consistent aesthetic across your social media channels helps reinforce your brand identity and improves recognition. Choose stock media that complements your existing content style and color palette.
  5. Platform-Specific Optimization: Each social media platform has its own content specifications and best practices. Whether you're posting on Instagram, X, TikTok, or LinkedIn, you'll need to tailor your stock media content to fit the platform's dimensions, aspect ratios, and audience preferences. Mock it up to see how it's going to look in those feeds before posting.
  6. Scroll-Stopping Power: In the crowded landscape of social media feeds, attention is a scarce commodity. Your stock media content must have the ability to stop users mid-scroll and capture their interest within seconds. While paid stock media sites often have higher quality overall, most of the free sites now have quality content - it just might take longer to locate. 
  7. Whitespace: Look for imagery that you can layer text on top of - but not too much as too much text can be visually overwhelming for the viewers.
  8. Legal Considerations: Ensure that you have the appropriate licenses to use the stock media in your social media marketing campaigns. Read all the fine print and if anything is unclear, reach out to the image owner or site for more detail. Violating copyright laws can result in legal consequences and damage to your brand's reputation.

The best places you will find stock media for social media are below: 

Premium Stock Media 

  • Dareful | Free Stock video Footage in 4K and HD. Great for aerial, city and nature views. 
  • Death to Stock | A membership to access fresh new trending content. Find non-cliched aesthetic imagery.
  • Stills | You can expect the unexpected here. Incredible roster of unique creators that are hand picked. 
  • FilmSupply | A great place to find super premium, cinematic videography. 
  • Storyblocks | An unlimited library of very premium stock media + audio.
  • Adobe Stock | Find premium stock as well as use Adobe Firefly to create content with an IP indemnification.  

Free Stock Media 

  • Burst | A platform built by Shopify for merchants to free stock media that specifically is great for web.  
  • Pexels | Find free stock from creators. Pro Tip: look at their most-viewed photos to see what is the cultural zeitgeist. 
  • Unsplash  | Find free stock from creators. I love finding cool editorial pictures here for my Instagram. 
  • Pixabay | Find free stock from creators. They
  • Dupe | A new platform with a focus on raw UGC content uploaded by creators. 
  • Adobe Stock | There's a free version customers can access as well as their paid.

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Need help with your social media strategy?

Reach out to us for a social media auditsocial media consulting and masterclasses. We help both busy executives and companies with their brands on social. See some of our qualification here

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