In an age where users are bombarded with visually stunning images and videos on a daily basis, it can be easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle. Audiences are becoming more and more savvy. They can spot a designer-generated graphic from a mile away, and they’re trained to scroll right past it. Remember, today’s social media consumers are not “new” to the web. Many have been consuming content online since the days of Geocities and Myspace (may they Rest In Peace).

The Problem with “Pretty” Posts

There’s no denying that we live in a visually-driven world. We’re constantly bombarded with images and videos, with layers of filters and effects. We have come to expect a certain level of polish and perfection from the brands we follow. But there’s a problem with that level of perfection: it’s fake. And audiences can spot fake a mile away.

When every photo looks like it came straight out of a magazine, it feels inauthentic. It feels like you’re being sold to, and no one likes feeling like they’re being sold to. That’s why so many people have developed an aversion to traditional advertising; it’s because it’s so obvious.

The Solution: Go Ugly!

So what’s the solution? If perfect, polished photos are fake and audiences can see right through them, what should marketers do? The answer is simple: go ugly!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should start posting photos and videos that are visibly low-quality or poorly edited. But you also shouldn’t strive for perfection in your visual content. Instead, aim for something in the middle; something that looks like it was created by a real person using their smartphone or laptop camera.

That’s right, I said it. Go for the ugly photos, the ones that are slightly out of focus or have weird lighting. The ones that look like they were taken on a phone instead of a professional camera. Why? Because those photos feel real. They feel like they were taken by an actual person instead of a team of professionals. And people respond to authenticity.

An agency in Australia recently tested this theory found that their clients’ posts that were under designed, and almost ugly performed better than the polished, perfect posts. Why? Because ugly equals user generated in the consumer’s mind. When they see an ugly photo, they automatically assume it was taken by someone just like them rather than by a professional photographer. And that makes them more likely to engage with the content because it feels relatable.

So if you’re looking to revamp your social media marketing strategy, don’t be afraid to go for the ugly! It just might be what your audience is looking for.