Plandid or Candid: Instagram goes ‘casual’ or does it?

21 February 2022

Emerging during the pandemic, the growing trend for the ‘photo dump’ captured the sentiment that there were no major happenings during lockdown and mirrored the appreciation for the smaller moments that we could enjoy from home. Instagram feeds filled with carousels featuring beautiful skyscapes, homemade bakes, WFH set ups and other glimpses into our then ‘new normal’.

As Gen Z takes hold of our social media platforms, we’ve seen a shift from the filtered and themed aesthetics to what appears to be a more casual approach. This is in line with their values and what they want to see from brands on and offline – authenticity.

This style of content has been seen from the full spectrum of social media users; teens up to influencers and celebrities. Figures like Emma Chamberlain, known for her candid, unfiltered approach to content breaks up her ambassador posts with various ‘dumps’ that include anything and everything from coffee to homemade soup and even tearful selfies. Her platform has been built up on the foundations of being authentic, which has correlated to sky-high engagement levels of up to 25% on some Instagram posts.[1]

We’ve also seen a receptive response to campaigns that utilise a behind-the-scenes approach to social media. A recent example was when man of the moment, Pete Davidson, briefly took over Calvin Klein’s Instagram treating it like his personal account for several days as part of their latest launch.[2]

While this content gives a casual first impression, social media commentators are arguing that it is still very much a curated post, with just as much thought going into the strategic selection of effortlessly unedited photos as their predecessors gave to their filters and stylised backdrops before them. Despite nostalgic similarities to early Facebook albums, even without a rose-tinted filter, the content we’re seeing in 2022 is much more ‘plandid’ than it would appear.

From a campaign perspective, it’s important to establish an authentic brand connection with the content creator when incorporating social media into the overall strategy.

Combined with a collaborative approach to content creation, if the product or service is something the influencer is known to use, like, support or even just resonate with, it’ll be received as a candid recommendation to their online community rather than a ‘plandid’ partnership.

While on the surface a series of seemingly unrelated photos may look quite casual, the time old saying still rings true – a picture is worth a thousand words.



[1] Forbes, ‘Don’t sleep on YouTube star Emma Chamberlain’

[2] High Snobiety, ‘Pete Davidson has taken over Calvin Klein’s Instagram’

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