Visual Authenticity in Content Marketing

We are surrounded by increasing amounts of content today that is generated by consumers. And not surprisingly, that content reflects an extremely wide range of quality and/or professionalism.

However, as we have come to accept user-generated content and imagery as a normal part of the marketing landscape, we have also shifted our view of the aesthetic that comes with them.

Just as word-of-mouth and endorsements from family and friends carry more credibility than any marketer-generated communications can, so does content that reflects a home-made or do-it-yourself look and feel.

The new “glitch aesthetic”

A major reason for this is the popularity of image-based social media. People can quickly snap a picture on their smartphones of a product, meal, event, or location that they are experiencing. Usually these pictures have less than ideal lighting, focus, composition, color saturation, etc. But their unintentional imperfection contains a critically important element—authenticity.

And when these images are shared (with an accompanying comment of approval or disapproval) with followers on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, they are powerful agents for shaping our perceptions and driving engagement actions.

However, many marketers overlook the value of this “glitch aesthetic” in their social media campaigns. Slick photography, dramatic lighting, and flawless models hardly convey authenticity and trust, especially on social channels. Just take a look at your personal social feeds—it’s pretty easy to spot posts with commercial intent just by noting the quality of the images.

This article from the Content Marketing Institute goes into more detail about the importance of keeping the visual sensibilities of the marketing channels you’re using in mind. Your content should present itself as a natural and respectful presence among your audience in order to gain trust. Striving for perfection and self-importance can sometimes be the last thing you want.