The rise of Instagram and SnapChat have literally created a life lived in pictures for the majority of each platform’s users. The same goes for the old standbys, Facebook and Twitter.
In fact, Twitter is the most insane of all, letting users post pretty much anything they like (I’m told this social network is a favorite for porn stars seeking to brand themselves).
Should you fake your social photo posts? I don’t think there’s a clear answer. But, what we do know is that phoney brands eventually get caught with egg on their face.
An empire earned through honest effort will always prevail over those who took shortcuts to get there.
We’ve all been exposed to the make money online guru wannabees and the fake earnings screenshots they show.
Not to mention the weight loss and fitness gurus faking before and after shots. “Experts” of all kinds sitting in a friend’s office full of plaques and certificates, that coincidentally can’t be read due to clever camera angles.
Don’t get me started on the “glamourati” and fake travel bloggers and vloggers taking pics of themselves in their local hotel pool and passing the scene of as being in the Maldives or some other exotic locale!
Once I gained an interest in this topic, I have to admit that I found it rather appalling businesses and individuals go to such lengths to create the illusion of an experience that isn’t real.
Is this how you want the world viewing you? With a fake smile, standing beside a palm plant pretending you’re ballin on Rodeo Drive drinking a $20 smoothie?
So in terms of staging a completely fake scenario to represent yourself or your brand, I say no way. It just isn’t worth it, and you’re contributing to a growing problem on social media. The Kardashians arguably started it all, with selfies taken by $5000/hr photographers and “hired gun” paparazzi catching them in their most beautiful and demure moments.
Despite their wealth and status, they still got caught, and paid with the loss of a roster of followers that can make or break a reputation for a small, growing brand. Kim K. will make out just fine, but few industries outside beauty and fashion can get away with such scandals.
Viewers know how to spot a fake.
The fact is, all it takes is one professional photog to catch a glance of your fake social media photos and post a comment to completely expose you or your brand. We all know how the mob mentality works on social media nowadays.
Once someone calls B.S., every 10 – 40 year old out there will give you more hate than someone wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey at Wrigley Field!
When is it actually (morally) justified to post staged social media photos?
Honestly, the only time I can see it being justified is if you’re goal is to showcase a product in the environment it’s intended to be used in. In other words, if you’re trying to artfully make your photos into a commercial of sorts.
See, viewers will understand a pet food brand promoting their products by showing a dog, presumably who consumes their product, winning awards. The photo doesn’t have to be real if you have a good product, tested and proven to provide the results you promise.
However, if you’re an upstart dog groomer trying to pass your skills at cropping and trimming award winning show dogs, and you’ve never had an award-winning client, this is called “faking it til you make it.”
When you doctor up or stage photos to fool people into thinking they’re seeing something authentic, you’re an impostor, pure and simple. Call it what you will, but I as a consumer have no time for such phoney trickery.
You either are or you aren’t.
It either is or it isn’t.
We all know how much millennials and Gen Z value authenticity and transparency. Is it really worth taking the chance with your brand?
Main Image Credit: @cosmopolitan/Twitter