Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Conversation in the Age of Social Media and the Safe Use of Digital Images

A comment was made in a business meeting recently that really struck me. There was nothing particularly deep or profoundly insightful about it. It was, though, a few simple words put into question form that brought home the reality of today's world.

"Who would ever have thought that we would be using images to express feelings and emotions?"

The query was prompted by discussion regarding  the emojis, animations and stickers that accompany iMessages, Facebook statuses and even emails.  Without tone to convey sentiment or reaction, we incorporate emoticons bearing every imaginable countenance. Hearts, broken and otherwise, reveal deep feelings of love and passion.  Those playful emojis, animations and colourful static images lighten chats and add an element of whimsy to our messages. It's a new way to communicate in the era of smartphones and the death of conversation.

The use of visual elements, however, is also in play in a big way in blogs.  The importance of adding a photo or illustration to the words one writes is well documented. There are many social media experts who speak to those benefits, which include the recommendation that a minimum of one image be included in a post to highlight the message or support it.  Pictures will make the blog more visually interesting and will help the author reach the target audience.

The addition of visuals will also improve Search Engine Optimization.  Be sure when using them, therefore that they are keyworded and titled.

Since digital media now plays such a large part in our communications, it's imperative that people understand the need to find a safe source from which to acquire it.  Searching for images on the internet is not the best route.  The ones that are found are quite likely not free to use and may contain a virus. It's often easy to miss the fine print that explains the image could be protected by copyright and including it in a blog or other social media posts could get the blogger into a whole lot of trouble. Maybe even sued.

The first step in protecting yourself is to accept that accessing quality digital media content which will be virus free and legally safe to use is going to cost  a bit of money. This is true whether you are CEO of a large corporation or owner of a mom and pop shop. It is true whether you are a teacher or a student. It is true whether you are a graphic designer or scrapbooker.

The good news, however, is that there are many very affordable options. Online subscription graphics services such as iCLIPART.com, iPHOTOS.com and Clipart.com offer a variety of plans to meet any budget or need. The content is royalty-free, meaning that once you have signed up you can use the images over and over without any hidden fees or extra charges.

These sites and other similar ones will have terms of use that explain what usages are permitted. In the case of the aforementioned, if blogging is your thing, a subscription to any of them means you can add the photos and illustrations to your posts provided they are there as decoration only.

If you just want to enhance your iMessages  there are fantastic sticker packs available for purchase. Vital Imagery Ltd., for example has several for sale on iTunes.

The important message here  is that no matter what you have to say and how you choose to say it, you better have legally obtained the right to tack that super happy face on to the end of it.
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