If your response to the latest advice from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was ‘finally!’ then you’re not alone. Their warning to brands and influencers who use filters while promoting products on social media aims to limit misleading claims – and has been widely well-received.
It comes after a social campaign called #filterdrop, led by makeup artist and model Sasha Pallari. Sasha said that it should be compulsory for influencers to disclose the use of beauty filters when promoting skincare or cosmetics.
The ruling is an important development for the influencer marketing industry and a great step towards transparency. While there’s certainly a time and a place for filters, they shouldn’t be used to mislead people.
The fact that ‘skinfluencers’ are having such a moment, makes this news even more timely. With lockdown keeping us away from salons – and giving us more time to scrutinise our skin – social users have sought advice from skin care focused influencers, whose engagement has boomed.
It also aligns with some emerging trends we’re seeing within the wider influencer space.
From curated to candid
While Instagram used to be a sea of perfect selfies and far flung destinations, lockdown has changed the game. It has given us a window into influencer’s everyday lives. More than ever before we’re seeing their off duty sweatpants and messy corners of their homes. But the trend for a less polished aesthetic had been becoming more popular, even before lockdown.
Consider TikTok. The app that is loved by Gen Z is a very different place from Instagram. It’s more focused on entertainment than aspiration. The New York Times called it ‘a place where people can let down their guards’ and ‘act silly with their friends’. The videos that go viral on TikTok are often funny and candid, not beautiful and considered.
This less contrived stream of content had begun to influence the Instagram aesthetic and we were starting to see more spontaneous content break through. Creators began sharing honest ‘before and after’ editing pictures and embracing body positivity.
Australian influencer Jade Tunchy is a prime example. She runs two successful Instagram accounts, showing two very different sides of her personality. There’s @jadetuncy with it’s beautiful imagery, colour coordinated feed, and big brand collaborations. Then there’s @therealjadetunchy, a behind-the-scenes look of the less-than-perfect parts of her life. With it’s unfiltered outtakes and impressions, it’s the side of influencers you rarely get to see.
Then of course there is the social sensation that is Emma Chamberlain. The 18-year-old engages millions across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok with her unpolished and relatable style. While it’s a word often overused in the influencer space, Emma’s irreverent content is truly authentic.
The popularity of TikTok and these unfiltered accounts prove social audiences’ appetite for candid content and influencers seem happy to provide the realness. A quick poll of our influencer community at Vamp revealed that 87% thought the ASA’s new ruling was a step in the right direction.
Authenticity is everything
There are big benefits for brands that adopt this authentic approach too, particularly those appealing to Gen Z. Data reported by CNBC shows that authenticity is a value they appreciate. 67% agree that ‘being true to their values and beliefs makes a person cool.’
One brand that embodies this value is Glossier. It has used ‘real’ women with a range of body shapes on its billboards in the past and fills its Instagram feed with UGC. These images show real skin texture, visible beneath barely there makeup, or none at all. The beauty company now has a $1.2 billion valuation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Since many consumers can’t relate to highly edited images, with their polish and contour, content that is more raw is likely to resonate. It’s easier to imagine yourself in makeup worn by someone who has a blemish – or at least visible pores.
The more a brand can present itself as authentic and honest, the more trust it will build with its customers. That trust will ultimately lead to more loyalty and sales.
While filters can appear a shortcut to making your product look amazing, building trust should be the long term goal, for brands and influencers alike. If laying off the filters can help you achieve that, while keeping the ASA away from your door, it has to be worth a shot.