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Trying too hard to be perfect?

Why you can find success by keeping it real.

Crisp, clean, curated. There’s no denying the certain pleasure attached to a well-thought-out Instagram feed. After all, brands-and individuals-work to truly develop their own signature look, building trust and followers along the way.

But in a world of highly curated images, imperfections are drawing attention in a good way.

Take, for instance, the work of Lomography, a company that makes vintage-inspired cameras. The collective, which creates equipment that draws on vintage-style lenses as inspiration. While marketing their latest art lens, the Lomography team encouraged photographers to embrace imperfections in their quest to find the perfect shot.

“Most of the lenses on the market now have perfected image quality,” Lomography marketing and PR manager, Birgit Buchart, shared with Kickstarter. “We saw there was an opportunity to bring people back into embracing the aberrations you get in historic lenses.”

Embracing perfections is proven to create a unique visual identity. It has worked for British photographer Richard Learoyd. When The Iris, the behind-the-scenes blog from The Getty museum, asked Learoyd why physical imperfections often appear his work, he replied: “Because people aren’t perfect.”

“I’m not interested in smoothing people out,” Leayroyd continued. “I’ll choose people purposely because of their scars and their imperfections. I like things like that in photographs; it’s human.”

Authenticity is all part of a bigger trend in visual communications-as well as marketing and advertising-that’s taken root in the last few years. In 2017, a post on Forbes’ from digital marketer Lauren Stephens declared, “Imperfect is Perfect: The New Advertising Standard.” She pointed not only to “real” models appearing in advertisements, but also to the push to add platforms like Facebook and Pinterest to advertising strategies, where viewers are already gathering.

“With an increasing number of people shopping online and having a better eye for the disingenuous, trust has become a must-have quality for brands to be successful,” Stephens wrote. “To build trust, brands have to engage with consumers in real, honest and relatable ways – showing an understanding of the individual needs of the customer during the various stages of the shopping journey.”

A dose of “authentic imperfection” can help tell stories and build connections, Ozan Varol, a law professor and author, wrote on his blog. That can already be seen in the work of current artists, YouTubers, and podcasters. Varol, a self-described “recovering perfectionist,” encourages innovation in his writings, and brought in a personal experience to illustrate his point.

“Perfection is for robots. Human beings come with flaws,” Varol wrote. “When we cover up these flaws, we also conceal what makes us human. About a year ago, I gave my weekly newsletter a facelift by adding a fancy headshot, photos, and graphics. My open rates-which track how many of my subscribers open my emails-plummeted. The open rates recovered only after I went back to a simple text format that looks more like a rough email from a friend.”

Even without overhauling your marketing strategy, there are still ways to bring a dose of reality into your feeds. Consider partnering with a micro or nano influencer-someone in your community or company who has a genuine, although smaller, following on social media-to connect with your followers on a personal, local level. Keep storytelling front and center, and remember that more casual or spur-of-the-moment updates delivered through a medium like Instagram Stories can be plenty effective. Share local events and news stories on your Facebook page to encourage community.

Remind your followers there are people behind the content, and remember to stay true to your own mission and style. Simply by being yourself, you can stand out.

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