Authenticity Sells: The Biggest Online Trend of 2022 (so far)

In 2022, it comes as no surprise that to capture new customers, it is important that your brand has an online presence. Sharing engaging content is a key element, but so too is creating and presenting an authentic brand and maintaining that throughout all company channels. Although social media usage seems to increase daily, especially during the pandemic, it seems as though there has been a shift in the way users expect to engage and connect with one another online. Instead of seeking out idyllic, curated content which is seemingly ‘perfect’, users are opting to find platforms in which they can be themselves, no filters required. With the rise of apps such as BeReal, and the growing popularity of the ‘photo dump’ on Instagram, businesses are encouraged to keep it real both on and offline with authentic branding and content.

Keeping It Real Online

In a world where people are so used to seeing, and sharing, perfectly filtered moments and carefully curated highlights, it is easy for brands to entrap themselves in the same trend on social media. To ‘keep it real’ by sharing authentic moments with your audience, while representing your brand in a positive and engaging way may seem like going against the grain. The recent growth in following of major influencers and brands thanks to their candid moments speaks volumes so companies are now encouraged to let their brand speak for themselves through unedited, raw content online. Internet users are actively seeking outlets to share real moments with one another which has been highlighted by the rapid growth in smartphone app ‘BeReal’.

Founded in 2019, the app not only encourages users to be authentic, but in fact requires authenticity. Smartphone users who have downloaded the app are prompted by a notification once per day (at any time) to upload a photo right there and then to share with their friends. Upon opening the app, users have two minutes to upload the shot which takes both a selfie and front-facing photo simultaneously. The concept of the app is simple: in a world where it is hard to tell when pictures, or videos, have been edited, and in which people only tend to show highlights of their lives, BeReal allows users to candidly be themselves. And it’s caught on. With approximately 10.7 million app installations to date (according to Sensor Tower), April was a record month which saw a user increase of 157% from March. It is clear to see then that there is an appetite for relatability and authentic branding on social media, especially among younger audiences.

Photo Dumps and Candid Content

It’s not just the increasing use of BeReal that has highlighted a desire for authentic interaction online. Despite being one of the most popular social media platforms, Instagram does not come without its own criticisms. The app has often been slandered as the root of growing self-image concerns among young people, having a negative impact on the mental health of its users. However, the new trend of the ‘photo dump’ on Instagram which typically involves the uploading of multiple unposed, unedited camera shots and videos, further reflects a shift in attitude towards online content.

With the ever-increasing popularity of TikTok, in part thanks to numerous lockdowns, it has been interesting to note which creators have had the highest engagement or follower growth over the course of the past couple of years. Many have shot to fame thanks to their unfiltered, candid content. The likes of Brittany Broski in the US has amassed almost seven million followers on TikTok due to her candid content resonating with people and making them laugh, while Hayley Morris has grown her following by millions during the pandemic thanks to her comedy sketches in which she discusses relatable, usually ‘taboo’, topics. But what does this shift in attitude mean for businesses?

The Human Approach In Business

The trend of relatable and authentic content is not solely limited to online influencers and their audiences. In fact, authenticity is a key factor in the online strategy and branding of many major businesses. Smoothie giant innocent’s quirky branding alongside their informal, witty tone of voice across their social media channels has enabled various viral moments, keeping their brand in the minds of millions of consumers. Another brand which has benefitted from engaging with the audience of today’s preference for authenticity, and informality, is Duolingo. The app which enables users to learn new languages has seen their brand’s following on TikTok surge, garnering over 80 million ‘likes’ thanks to the somewhat unhinged, yet relatable content posted. The human approach taken by these brands has played a critical role in their recent success.

The Importance of Brand Guidelines

Maintaining consistency plays a key part in the development of a brand, alongside its authenticity. Brand consistency is the ability to deliver consistent messaging and design across all platforms over time. If you are consistent, you are more likable and dependable. Audiences are not naïve and tend to trust those who do not change at the drop of a hat, so when a business has a strong brand presence, audiences will be able to spot when a company is not being truly authentic. In order to maintain a consistent brand, it is crucial to develop a set of brand guidelines that outline every aspect of your brand strategy that includes your logo, colour scheme, tagline, typography and key messaging.

What Are The Benefits Of Authentic Branding?

Humans are fuelled by emotion, and research has continuously proven that feelings often score high over logic when it comes to developing brand loyalty. As demonstrated by the growth in following of brands and creators posting relatable content online, audiences are keen on ideas that touch an emotional nerve. We begin to trust brands who speak to us on a human level. Not only are customers more likely to buy from brands they trust, but they are also willing to pay more for products and services. On average, brands with stronger reputations offer a 31% higher shareholder return, enjoy a growth rate that’s three times faster than their competitors and a 31% greater revenue growth over a three year period compared to lesser brands.

The ultimate goal of any business is to grow an audience and produce more sales. A strong brand is key to that, and the latest trends highlight just how important it is for businesses to be transparent and authentic with their audiences. The popularity of apps such as TikTok and BeReal proves there is a shift in the way users want to interact with creators and brands online. Businesses can take advantage of this with strong branding, consistent content, and clear values.

At teclan, our team has years of experience crafting compelling brands that resonate with audiences, while creating content that engages and ultimately leads to wider brand recognition and boosting revenue. We would love to do the same for you. Get in touch with us today to learn what you could achieve with authentic branding and a clear content strategy.