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#ThatGirl Is Out, #PartyGirl Is In: How Brands Can ‘Get Real’ with Influencer Marketing

The Influencers 46 Add to collection

Sarah Erickson, client services director at ITB Worldwide explores what marketers need to know about the anti-perfection vibe shift

#ThatGirl Is Out, #PartyGirl Is In: How Brands Can ‘Get Real’ with Influencer Marketing

Since the advent of social media – and influencers in particular – the trends cycle is constantly changing at pace and it’s not always easy for the marketing industry to keep up. The initial focus on aspirational content and feeds full of ‘highlights reels’ has given way to more raw, authentic, in-the-moment content. So how can brands keep it real with consumers and stay in tune with the cultural aesthetics driving what consumers expect from social media today? 

Consumer perspective quickly shifted in the early days of the pandemic, when we saw a movement away from the beautifully filtered beach shots flooding Instagram feeds, towards the realistic and unfiltered aesthetic championed by the TikTok community. At the time, it was something consumers could relate to – and content that reflected the current sentiment of the nation attracted far more interest and engagement as TikTok quickly became the most downloaded app of 2020

More recently, we have seen Instagram follow closely in these footsteps moving over to full screen vertical video, further promoting short-form video content that’s more real-time entertaining and playful, rather than the pristine, still imagery the app was originally based on. 

Cultural aesthetic 

TikTok has in essence become a forecasting tool, amplifying online discourse at a dizzying pace and with real-life consequence. What was once an online aspiration, the #thatgirl aesthetic (up at 5am, meditates, healthy eating, regularly exercises) has fallen by the wayside after reaching the height of popularity and then being deemed unrealistic for the masses. TikTok, the heartland of viral dances, comedic sketches and cooking hacks, seemed like it would avoid this kind of content with a democratised algorithm where views are more important than likes, but TikTok fell into the old ways of social media’s past, with #thatgirl trending and racking up over 4.2 billion views. Trends are fleeting and the revolt against #thatgirl is here as people start to move away from the ‘perfect’ aesthetic in favour of the #partygirl aesthetic, racking up over two billion views. 

Consumers are growing tired of an unattainable flawless standard and are now reminiscing about the ‘it’ girls that once ruled the party scene – Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Kate Moss and Nicole Ritchie. Today, people want to see their favourite celebrities being more like them – like Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa posting blurry shots from their nights out. They turn to their social media feeds for entertainment in a way that is real and relatable, not polished and unattainable. Nostalgia has been a key part of TikTok’s aesthetic for some time, marking a revival of the community, art and culture surrounding it that is spreading across social platforms, media and branding.

Be part of the zeitgeist

All of this points to a very real need for brands to be culturally aware of the sentiment and tone-of-voice around influencer partnerships and influencer generated content to ensure that they are in line with current trends and not alienating the very consumers they want to engage. 

The ideation of content itself needs to speak the visual language of the zeitgeist, created in a style that consumers relate to and find appealing. The less polished and more playful content celebrated and published through #partygirl content is the kind of aesthetic brands can lean into currently in order to appeal to a larger audience. 

Brands need to invest time listening to audience conversations and analysing user behaviour and content trends to create better informed strategies and relevant creative that resonates and feels more authentic. Here’s how they can do it:

Stay informed – just as you’d keep abreast of trending music tracks and dance challenges on the platform, keep an eye on trending hashtags, especially those that are climbing rapidly in use and have been used most currently.

Keep it relevant – shoehorning your brand into a trend that doesn’t fit is going to look glaringly out of place, so keep in mind your ethos, values and audience. Being playful is a key part of TikTok’s success but don’t go too left field and risk being the butt of the joke. If your product is a natural fit for a trend, take advantage and embrace it.

Size isn’t everything – prioritise working with authentic creators who are already producing creative organic content around an aesthetic or movement. Subcultures are a key part of TikTok so it’s not all about those with the biggest following or number of likes.

Brands must be careful how they align with these trends to ensure they are getting the right balance between style and aesthetic and the right social buzz. Brands have an important part to play in the cultural conversation, but it’s got to be done without sacrificing credibility. As with all things, authenticity and alignment with values is essential. And always keep it real. 

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ITB Worldwide, Thu, 23 Jun 2022 10:06:16 GMT