According to the recently-released Culture Rising: 2022 Trends Report by Facebook IQ, conversations about influencer marketing are on the rise. On Facebook, topics such as “brand ambassador” and “social influence” went up by 131% and 91%, respectively. Meanwhile, on Instagram, the topic #Microinfluencer rose by 384%, while #Creator saw a 76% boost. What’s more, 40% of their survey respondents said that they aspire to be successful influencers or creators.
In recent years, social media has offered new opportunities for creatives to share their stories, showcase their talents, and earn income by doing what they love. We can see it in popular brand ambassadorships, influencer marketing, vlogging channels, and beyond. In turn, we’ve also seen images of everyday creators in their element crop up in the worlds of marketing and advertising. In this guide, we’ll cover some of our key tips for visualizing creator culture on social media in 2022.
Note: When photographing social media trends, only champion safe practices. Never promote dangerous challenges or activities that could cause harm.
Tip #1: Capture behind-the-scenes moments
Of course, the action often starts before the camera’s rolling. “Social media creators put a lot of time and effort into making their videos, so consider shooting the setup process and the behind-the-scenes aspects that help tell a story,” the 500px team urges. Here’s where collaboration pays off; by working with a real-life creator, rather than a professional model, you’ll get those natural shots of your models interacting with their gear.
Additionally, put some time into scouting and styling your location; in many cases, your models’ home will serve as your backdrop, so include items that capture their personality, identity, and self-expression. If you’re shooting on location, capture what’s unique or special about the space. Get some wide, environmental shots, and then zoom in to highlight the details.
Tip #2: Embrace tech
Embrace all the tools your model uses to create content, whether it’s a video camera, microphone, or ring light. As long as you avoid any branded details, such as logos, design elements, buttons, and ports, feel free to include any wireless devices in your shoots, while capturing them from all angles and perspectives. When it comes to social media, technology is a given, but beyond laptops and phones, you can get creative with wearable tech devices (for social media workouts, for example) and even VR headsets.
In a recent trend report, titled Into the Metaverse, Wunderman Thompson Intelligence provided a glimpse of what digital spaces could look like heading into the future. Social media platforms are helping to drive our expansion into virtual spaces; TikTok, for example, is creating an AR development platform, TikTok Effect Studio. Meanwhile, Facebook has pioneered VR and AR research through Reality Labs. Going forward, it might be worth illustrating how influencers and content creators are entering the metaverse and expanding their brands.
Tip #3: Get candid
Genuinfluencers is a term first coined by WGSN to describe an emerging class of influencers who prioritize relatability and transparency over being aspirational. Beyond just selling products, many of today’s influencers use their channels to engage in meaningful conversations, share advice, and spread valuable information. For that reason, it’s important to capture content creators in a candid, genuine light, rather than leaning into the “flawless” influencer trope of previous years.
In your lifestyle shoots, document the creative process itself, rather than staged or posed shots. “Photograph your subject in action,” the team at 500px suggests. “Candid shots work extremely well for this kind of content because authenticity and realness are key factors in the social world. Capture moments of joy and silliness. You might even consider asking your model to read comments from the community out loud to get honest expressions.”
Tip #4: Be inclusive
When we talk about authenticity in social media, we’re also talking about inclusivity. As part of a recent trend report, Getty Images drew our attention back to photo manipulation and unrealistic beauty standards on social media, encouraging creatives and marketers to embrace body positivity across the board. While their research indicates that two out of three people believe it’s important for brands they support to celebrate diversity of all kinds, fewer than 1% of top visuals included people with larger frames.
Of course, inclusive casting means hiring models across gender identities, abilities, and backgrounds. Age diversity is an overlooked but crucial theme in commercial photography, so celebrate everyone from teens/youth to seniors in the influencer space. Be sure to take an intersectional approach to diversity and champion underrepresented voices.
The stakes are high here: the influencer marketing industry has a history of underpaying Black women, so it’s especially important to give credit where it’s due and give representation to people who’ve paved the way yet remained undervalued. You could even offer to take photos for a content creator to use in their own marketing materials, supporting their business while growing your Licensing portfolio at the same time.
Tip #5: Anticipate trends
From dance challenges to virtual reality concerts, social media is often at the forefront of emerging cultural trends. The 2022 Instagram Trend Report, released in December of 2021, offers a valuable point of departure. Among their findings, for instance, is the fact that more than one in four teens report trying something new like baking bread and outlandish cakes, inspired by creators on Instagram. Meanwhile, more than one in three teens were excited to see more dance challenges in the new year.
Tellingly, one in four 13- to 24-year-olds agreed that micro-influencers with loyal and highly engaged followings are most important for the creation of new trends. Curate your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok feeds based on the influencers and micro-influencers set to shape the new year. If your focus is on social media food trends, for instance, you might follow Tabitha Brown; if your interest lies in beauty, maybe you follow Nyma Tang.
Here’s where collaborating with a micro-influencer can also prove invaluable, as they can tip you off to some of the trends happening in their respective niches. “As with everything in the commercial world, you need to be quick in recognizing trends,” the team at 500px elaborates. “Trends that have surfaced online in the past have come in the form of challenges, community-based initiatives, flash mobs, and so on.” Next week’s trends could be something else, so keep your eyes peeled.
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