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Is Shutterstock Custom The Future Of Social Media Marketing?

Updated: Oct 23, 2018

Shutterstock recently launched Shutterstock Custom to capitalize on the growing demand for branded content. By 2019, global content marketing will be worth more than $313 billion annually. The growth is driven largely by social media marketing as brands churn out new content on an industrial scale.


Is Shutterstock Custom the future of social media marketing?



What Is Shutterstock Custom?


Shutterstock Custom is a digital platform that connects brands to freelancers (photographers and videographers) anywhere in the world to produce branded content for social media engagement.



How Shutterstock Custom Works?


1. Submit your brand guidelines. Brands define their brand identities and creative direction for their campaigns.


2. Submit a marketing brief. Provide details on your marketing campaign and Shutterstock will match brands to the right photographers or videographers.


3. Get your content in 3 to 4 weeks. Customize your content with filters, text and logos.


4. Give feedback and improve your next campaign.



What Is A Standard Marketing Brief?


A standard marketing brief can be made up 25 images, 3 GIFs, 3 Cinemagraphs or 30 seconds of video footage.

Shutterstock Custom Standard Marketing Brief

Social Media Marketing Use Cases


From the Shutterstock's website, most case studies are about creating social media content. For social media marketing to be effective, brands need to constantly create and publish fresh content to engage their audiences.


Businesses with limited resources often find it challenging to create content in large quantities for social media. But, Shutterstock Custom aims to help brands easily scale social media content for Facebook and Instagram.


Let's look at some social media case studies for Shutterstock Custom.


Instagram photos for your marketing campaigns can be a combination of full production, influencer generated and custom stock content. Drumstick Canada used custom stock photos to increase Instagram content and reach their consumers.


"Drumstick Canada generated 21 million impressions and 75% of impressions reach their target audience."

Instagram story, stop motion videos. McDonald's Canada has leveraged on Shutterstock Custom as a cost effective way to create large quantities of customized still motion photos for their Instagram stories.

"McDonald’s Canada used Instagram story to reach 14% of their target audience organically with a 21% churn rate."

Small businesses and entrepreneurs can use custom stock photos as an alternative compared to expensive full-production shoots. Custom stock photos also gives brands more creative control compared to social influencer marketing and stock photos.

"Social influencers lacked creative direction and quality amateur. And stock photos were widely available and not authentic." - FlipBelt

Other possible uses for custom stock content include website content, email marketing campaigns and print advertisements.



How Shutterstock Custom Compares With Other Content Options?


We have compared content creation options based on factors such as cost, creative direction, quality, authenticity, localization, scale and speed to market.

Shutterstock Custom's pricing is based on a 1 year subscription with three basic packages; either 8, 20 or 50 marketing briefs for a year. Subscription packages can range from US$30,000 to US$150,000 (prices are negotiable).


Not the cheapest option, but for small businesses looking to create original content, custom stock photos can be an alternative to a full-production shoot. Alternatively, small businesses should consider user-generated content which is more affordable and gives a more authentic feel compared to the other options.


A good balance of creative direction, quality, authenticity and localization, Shutterstock Custom offers content that is high quality, localized and with an authentic feel without having to break the bank.


The feedback process for Shutterstock custom needs improvement. If the content is not up to standard, brands can provide feedback and data points will be added to Shutterstock's algorithm for future briefs. Not to perfect current briefs? Does it mean you have to submit another brief and incur more costs?


Speed to market is important for most businesses. In some instances, 3 to 4 weeks for content creation might be too long to capitalize on new opportunities. Shutterstock Custom has average turnaround time compared to user-generated and stock images.



Recommendations For Small Businesses


Small businesses should consider using a combination of custom stock, stock images and user-generated content for their social media marketing. Achieve lower marketing costs and drive engagement. Now, you can have your cake and eat it too!


Vorbly | Marketing Made Easy

Social Media Marketing Solutions For Small Businesses


If you are a photographer, read on...




Is Shutterstock Custom For Photographers & Videographers?


Shutterstock helps you to market your photography skills. As a new photographer, you can build your portfolio without building your own website, optimizing it for SEO and advertising your services online.


Assignments are matched to freelancers based on their skills and situations. For example, if you are a landscape photographer living near Yellowstone National Park you might get a Patagonia assignment.


Shutterstock encourages photographers to take photos of their friends and family in authentic situations. Do you still need model releases? Yes, you do.


Projects are flexible and usually take around one to two hours to shoot. There is no commitments (no minimum number of hours) and you can sign up for projects that you are able to complete. It's great for part-time photographers.


Looking to try out other areas of photography? For example, if you are a professional wildlife photographer looking to expand into product photography, then Shutterstock Custom is worth trying.



Application Process For Contributors


1. Apply. Complete an application form, fill out your profile and select categories.


2. Portfolio Review. Shutterstock will review your portfolio and assign categories to you. You will be assigned a tier - Network, Preferred or Pro.


3. Receive Projects. You will be assigned marketing briefs based on your profile.



Your Creative Rights


We will dive deeper into the Shutterstock contact terms to understand how your work will be used and your creative rights.

"Without limiting the generality of the preceding sentence, upon receipt of each Paid Submission, we will have the exclusive, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to use, reproduce, display, electronically transmit, distribute, publish, broadcast, modify, edit, combine with the work of others, make derivative works from and otherwise exploit each of your Paid Submissions, and to grant any of those rights to others, for any purpose whatsoever, and on any terms determined by us in our sole discretion." - Shutterstock Contract Terms

Is this clause really fair to photographers? Let's hear what Shutterstock Custom contributors have to say.


"A photographer giving away copyright to his/her work is quite extreme and I would have to think carefully about which images I'd send them if I were selected to fulfill an assignment." from Shutterstock Custom Forum
"I would also have to think carefully if the time invested is worth the payment minus the loss of copyright." from Shutterstock Custom Forum

With photographers getting paid between $10 to $120 per photo (or 20-30% of sales), compared to the $250 to $1,500 per photo for professional commercial photographers.


Shutterstock contributors would likely be amateur, semi-professional photographers or photographers exploring new areas of photography.


For brands, it could mean that content generated would be similar to user-generated content (for a higher price).


Shutterstock is good for generating large quantities of branded social media content but for print advertisements, you should still engage professional photographers.


Will Shutterstock Custom photos be added into the stock library? No, it won't.

"All content generated is exclusive to you and won't be added to stock library if not used." - Shutterstock Custom

Conclusion For Photographers & Videographers


Shutterstock Custom is ideal for photographers and videographers building their portfolios and looking for more exposure. If you are already a professional photographer, consider building your personal branding. Vorbly's branding and web design solutions will help build brand awareness and generate sales.



Vorbly | Marketing Made Easy

Digital Marketing Solutions For Freelancers