Are you on Track to Deliver the Right Picture?

I’ll admit it, I’m a total motorsports nut. If it has wheels and an engine I’ll happily watch it race. The number of wheels doesn’t particularly matter, two or four I’ll be trackside. So when I see a link to a work-related article online with a picture of a race car in the header, it’s pretty much a given that I’ll click through.

Such was the case last week when a picture of a particularly lovely vintage Ferrari race car caught my attention. The article itself went one better by describing the challenges of systems implementation by using running the Indianapolis 500 race as a metaphor. You would think that would be the perfect post for me – yet it annoyed me. The reason? That Ferrari, the same one that had caught my attention in the first place.

The problem was that while the article had consistently referenced the race at Indianapolis the picture was that of a Formula One race car. F1 and IndyCar are two distinctly different branches of the sport with very different cars. That Ferrari would never have raced in the Indy500. As much as I found the article interesting, the racing and content pursuit in me was irritated. Why didn’t they use an appropriate picture? OK I’ll accept the vast majority of people reading the article didn’t even notice the incongruity; a race car is just a race car isn’t it.

Imagine instead that the article had been about Star Wars, and they’d used a Star Trek image, or about the Marvel movies and they’d used a picture of Batman (yes, I’m a geek too); or it had been about an industry you work in and they’d put up something related to one of your competitors. I’ve seen that happen when I worked in both aerospace and equipment manufacturing. Incidents like that immediate undermine your message’s credibility for those who have a degree of knowledge of the subject matter.

Getting the right image on your message is important.

I recently hosted a webinar on using social media and one of the areas we discussed was the use of images to accompany posts, blogs, articles etc.

We talked about how images need to be:

  • Relevant,
  • Eye-catching,
  • Symbolic,
  • Thematic,
  • and ideally original.

The problems, like the Ferrari one, arise with an over reliance on search and stock art. That over reliance can lead to what I call the curse of The Millennial Man, where the same stock image is used over and over again by everyone. The Millennial Man refers to a photo that seems to accompany nearly every article that has the word “millennial” in the title. You know the one, the bearded guy walking down the street with a coffee in one hand, looking at his smart phone in the other hand.

So how do you ensure that you are using the right images?  Don’t just search the web for something that might work. Use a Digital Asset Management platform that contains only brand approved art and images, or those that the company has licensed from an image library. Make sure that those images are correctly tagged with accurate and comprehensive metadata that makes searching easier and more accurate.

It’s worth remembering that often the content about the content (i.e. the metadata) is more important than the content itself.

Stay on track by considering the importance of metadata up front. Don’t just describe what is in the image, but think about what that image could be used to illustrate, what markets it might be appropriate for ( and just as importantly markets or circumstances where it may be inappropriate.)

Defining a meta data strategy and managing it is a winning strategy.


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