Not only do images create visual interest and help you tell a great story, they are nearly essential if you want to get noticed above the din of social media content these days. And, just as they can help, they can also hurt if you don’t follow some basic rules.
Be Aware of Copyright Law
Just because an image is on the internet, doesn’t mean you can use it legally. Drawings, photos, and infographics are all considered artistic creations, automatically copyrighted by the person or company that made them.
Here is Attorney Sarah Hawkins’ definition:
Copyright is a federal law of the United States that protects original works of authorship. Copyright attaches as soon as the original work is created, and applies to both published and unpublished works. (source)
In other words, if you sat down right now and drew a little tree next to a house, by default you are the copyright owner of that image–no need to file any paperwork or anything. Then, if someone found that image and decided to use it in their blog, you could have grounds to sue them.
While I don’t recommend this as a money making scheme, there are those who scour the internet for illegally used images so they can do just that. Lawsuits can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and more. In medical content marketing the stakes can be even higher including loss of licensure if HIPAA laws are violated.
The solution is to know exactly where an image comes from and what permissions are attached. This can be as simple as clicking on the image. Permissions can vary. Some images are in the public domain and are free to use any way you like. Others just require attribution, and some are quite strict. Also, if you are using an image on a medical practice website, you need to make sure the image is OK to use commercially. Learn more about that here.
Find Good Images
Using an image legally, doesn’t mean you have to pay a fortune for it. There are lots of free and inexpensive sources.
I often purchase images because the quality tends to be higher and the large databases with these services are quicker and easier to search. Spending the money can be worth the time-savings.
Always keep a record of any photos you use, where you got them and the permissions or licensing agreement attached. This way you can stay out of trouble if anyone ever questions your use of an image.
Here at Coffee Break, Amy and I believe strongly in crediting an image source or artist even when it is not required. It doesn’t hurt and it is always a good will gesture to give credit where credit is due.
If you use your own, make sure that you have (preferably written) permission from anyone in the photo–especially patients. You can never be too careful.
Make the Most of your Images
Choosing a great image for your content is often more of an art than a science. You want your image to add to your story. Think about the emotion that an image evokes or the shared cultural experience that images can represent. Remember that your image doesn’t have to be literal.
When it comes to images and photos, there is a lot of talent out there and often no need to enhance or crop what you get. If you are using your own images, I recommend using a simple photo editor (like picmonkey) on your computer to make sure the picture is clear, bright and cropped well.
Placement & Size
Research has shown that people read webpages using an F-shaped pattern. This means that they start at the top left and move over to the right before scanning down the screen. Placing an eye-catching image at the top of your post can be the best way to draw a reader in.
Consider the resolution and size of your images. The higher the resolution and the larger the file, the longer your image will take to load and the more likely someone will just click away.
- Use images that are only as big as they need to be on a laptop or phone screen to speed loading.
- Make sure images conform to your webpage dimensions so they don’t get cropped awkwardly.
- Find out the image specs for social media sites you post to, so they show up and look good.
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 1: What is Content Marketing?
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 2: Why Use Content Marketing for Medical Practices?
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 3: Bare Bones Approach to Content Strategy
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 4: Copywriting: Not Just for Selling Bananas
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 5: Stay on the Right Side of Medical Ethics
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 6: The Who, Where & What of Medical Content Generation
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 7: 5 Star Recipe: Writing for the Internet
Basics of Content Marketing for Medical Practices Part 8: Backstage Matters: SEO & Site Organization
Image credit: © Dangubic / AdobeStock