stock videos

When to Use Stock Videos and When to Avoid Them

By Jessica Madrazo

Video is one of the best tools marketers can include in any campaign. The way a good video marketing campaign can illustrate a point or touch the emotions of viewers, the way it can add a certain dynamic to a page – it’s no wonder it’s become a must for social media pages and websites.

Not everyone, however, has the luxury of time or the resources to pull certain scenes that they may need for a more effective message, and this is where stock footage comes in. Aside from saving you the hassle of production, stock footage sites often offer a wide variety of content to suit every need.

As great as they are, though, there are dos and don’ts for using them, and before you allocate some of your business’s budget into paying for stock footage, it’s good to review some pointers on how they should be used by businesses.

When to Use Stock Videos

Here are some situations when it makes very good sense to use stock videos.

When It Fills in Gaps

Often times when you’re in the middle of editing your footage, you may find yourself thinking how a certain clip would help you provide a stronger message or help make some parts of the script more interesting. This is the best time to turn to stock videos. These little gaps may not be the point of the video, but incorporating little clips here and there could help tell your brand story better.

Say, you’re a swimsuit shop looking to bank on school letting out for the summer; including shots of students leaving campus, or maybe shots of beach-goers going surfing or lazing on the beach can help you build a certain mood to match your brand and more importantly, your products.

When an Emergency Arises

With the unpredictability of social events and the promos that come along with them, you can never tell what kind of clips you’ll need in order to ride on with the event. Thanks to stock videos, however, you won’t have to worry about missing out on events just because you didn’t have footage of an outdoor festival, for example, that could have helped you sell your beverages.

Such emergency cases are unavoidable, so it’s always good to have the rich resource that has stock footage as an option to aid you in those times.

When It Fits in with the Rest of Your Material

This is the most basic, yet the most important situation that should be noted. Use stock footage only when it actually matches the rest of your video, and more importantly, your company’s branding. How strange would it be if your South East Asia-based business aimed at local customers used blonde actors?

Not only do you miss connecting with your intended audience, but you waste money on ineffective footage as well. If the footage works with the rest of your campaign, on the other hand, then no problem.

When Not to Use Stock Videos

If your situation sounds like any of the examples below, it’s probably a better idea to skip the stock videos.

When It’s a Branding Video

If it’s a branding video you’re going for, it’s best to avoid using stock footage. Remember that a branding video has to speak about your company – its vision, its concepts, its image, and its overall uniqueness. While in spared quantities can be acceptable, it won’t provide the same grabbing effect that original footage has when it comes to branding.

Stock footage, despite the variety available online, are generic clips that can be acquired by anyone, and chances are you’re sharing stock clips with several other companies – not really ideal when you’re trying to show how different you are. So if it’s a video for establishing your company brand, you’re better off investing in producing your own shots.

When Local Shots are Called For

Owing to the generic appeal that stock videos need to have in order to be cost smart, often times the location shots you can find on stock footage sites are quite limited, and it’s not wise to rely on it for that shot you need of your city’s famous landmark (unless it’s the Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower, but then again, not all of us live in New York City or Paris).

To make sure your audience won’t feel like they’re being played or give them any false expectations, in such occasions it’ll pay off more, at least authenticity-wise, to go and invest in your own shots that truly follow the script.

When It Looks Too Much Like Stock

While not necessarily a bad thing as they aren’t original clips after all, clips that look too stock-y, no matter how much you try to fix them into fitting into your vision, may ruin your effort, and instead of saving money, you end up losing potential sales.

Instead of forcing the clip to match the rest of the video (and spending too much time and effort in trying to achieve it), it can be a lot wiser to go with an original clip that’ll really achieve what you want.

Photo credit: Play button on video from Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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Jessica Madrazo
Jessica Madrazo is the Operations Director of Coffeebot, a digital marketing agency that offers SEO services, social media optimization, lead generation, affordable web design and other general virtual assistant services. She has been in the outsourcing industry for years, and has helped small businesses from different parts of the globe reach their goals.

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