Nitin Gupta

Are you haunting your audience with the headless man?

Blog Post created by Nitin Gupta on Jul 26, 2018

The horror of stock images

It’s been close to two centuries since Washington Irving terrified us with “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” where a headless horseman frightens poor Ichabod Crane. Circa 2018, digital versions of headless apparitions continue to torment us online.


A headless man pointing at the screen – How many of you remember seeing such a picture? Or a better question would be: How many instances can you remember seeing or using them in the past – One? Two? Or more? I am guilty of using such images on so many occasions that I’ve lost count.Headless Men Pointing at Screen Image


Every day when you log into LinkedIn and Twitter, we come across these images from business-oriented social media handles. Scroll through the posts and then try to recall the posts you remember skimming through. Which ones do you remember? Regular text and graphs vis-a-vis posts with generic stock images.


While visual content works great to capture our attention, most of us have over-exploited the use of stock images. Some organizations follow a guideline which dictates the use of one generic image accompanying every post - be it a happy human face, executives shaking hands, an abstract image of our favorite ‘headless people’.


You will get similar suggestions when looking for best practices and tips to make social posts more visually appealing. Most guidelines recommend the use of a high definition, well-polished, human-centric imagery to stir human emotions. What we end up doing instead is converting every post into obvious marketing material. Most human minds have learned to skip such posts and go to the next one. These posts end up losing their true essence instead of stimulating human emotions.


It is absolutely fine to have a non-HD image as long as the image conveys what you want to say. It is fine if you use a screengrab of a graph from a presentation or a website to add value to your post. I am not completely disregarding the stock images and their usability, but use them wisely. Make it relevant and useful to the audience. Else you are only going to lose their interest. A need for information dissemination through the image is critical for the success of the post. 


If you still want to have that human connect and stir human emotions, add a meme. Make your audience smile, or even better get them to laugh. Adding humor once in a while is a great way to give your social handles a human touch and pique their interest.


All in all, ask your social media leads to stop behaving like a team of over-professionals. They are there to create a connect with the consumers directly and to generate awareness of your brand.


What do you want your brand image to be? A business that truly cares about humans or a business that poses to be human-centric. The choice is yours!


Nitin Gupta


- Thanks to Sameer Murdeshwar and Sowmya Moni for sharing their value adds on this topic