There is a new trend on the block, and it might surprise you. Over the last few months, you might have seen your Instagram blowing up with what is known as photo dumps.
A photo dump is a carousel of pictures that tend to have not a specific connection or a specific link between one another: casual selfies mixed in with images of food, sunsets, and candid shots to give you an overall “vibe.”
These usually unfiltered photos, quite raw, go against the hyper-aesthetic and the heavy curation style of Instagram pictures. In the last month, there have been over 700,000 uses of the phrase “photo dump” or #photodump in the U.S.
Some could argue that photo dumps had come right when Mosseri said Instagram is “no longer a square photo-sharing app,” referencing the app’s launch in 2010.
With the platform focusing more and more on video content, images have become a way to celebrate achievements and share snippets of life or behind the scene.
As video is now the star of the show, photo dumps represent the shift in user intent and user behaviour that I believe we need to be aware of. Photo dumps are a way for creators and users to say “who cares”, or let’s be more authentic and unfiltered. It’s something that anybody from celebrities to creators and people like myself have embraced.
I use Photo dumps on weekends, where I present a showreel of what has been happening to showcase highlights of my week.
The rise of unfiltered trends
There’s a lot of power in this anti-aesthetic trend, as it allows you to show a new side of yourself and expose different business areas. Such areas might have not been within their aesthetic or fit with a specific calendar.
I’m not suggesting scraping your content calendar entirely and throwing your Canva designs out of the window.
However, I wanted to start thinking about whether it is time for you to bring a more personal touch to your brand or embrace different ways to showcase other business areas. As a brand, professional or expert, you can stand out from the crowd by stepping away from highly curated feeds and embracing a bit more on the low-vibe posting.
From a personal perspective being a business owner, it’s something that I’m happy to do for my personal account because it allows people to see different sides of who I am in a way that feels quite natural and not too constructed.
It is the closest to authenticity that we can get these days. However, it can have its pros and cons when it comes to brands.
Should you embrace the Instagram’ photo dump’?
On one side, you need to remember what your social media goals are.
If you know why you’re using Instagram and how it is helping you build know-like trust with your audience, you will see whether you need to bring more of an unfiltered perspective. Is your goal to sell? Is it to connect with advocates and get a new breath of UGC content?
Going back to user intent, you need to get back to why your audience is on Instagram in the first place.
How does your content fit into their habits? Suppose your content is all about inspiration and motivation and keeping it real. In that case, photo dumps can help you, showcasing the different sides of a business that maybe your customers are not so used to seeing.
However, if you’re positioning yourself as an expert or as an educational platform as well as a place for people to get credible information, then photo dumps might not be what you want to look at.
Another important thing that you need to think about before jumping on the photo dump trend is your tone of voice.
An unfiltered look can benefit some smaller brands trying to showcase different sides of the entrepreneurial journey. These carousels can showcase a new launch, event, or snippets of office life behind the scenes.
If your tone of voice is not reflecting this type of trend, and your brand is rooted in a more sleek, streamlined aesthetic, I would stay away from it.
An excellent alternative for you would be to tap into this trend by partnering with collaborators and creators looking to bring a more authentic feeling to their brand.
As they create more fun and unfiltered user-generated content, you can partner with them to introduce your content to their audience in a more authentic manner.
In this way, you don’t need to introduce photo dump into your strategy, but you can harness it for the creators you work with by having your products or services featured within their photo dumps.
What is the future of Instagram holding?
Regardless of whether you’re going to embrace your trend in one way or another, I find it fascinating how the platform is evolving to cater to creators and allow them to get creative expression as the platform grows as a brand.
I’m all for this trend – I’m excited to be able to showcase snippets of my professional life. To get my audience to understand better who I am and I’m growing as an individual.
Olivia Yallop describes photo dumps on Refinery29 as “the digital equivalent of doodles on napkins or marginalia on medieval manuscripts”. So, what’s going to happen next?
Honestly, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the focus on video and e-commerce will become a more holistic way to connect with audiences, brands, and even creators in a unique way. Seeing, recognising, and harnessing trends coming your way will become more critical than ever.
Are you looking to up your Instagram engagement? It may be time to start using stickers strategically.