Why Content Creators Are Looking Inward For Authentic Stories

Why Content Creators Are Looking Inward For Authentic Stories
Advertising

Storyblocks CEO TJ Leonard examines why authenticity and representation inspired content creators more than ever in 2017

PSFK Op-Eds
  • 4 january 2018

Life is complex. From the mundane to the extreme, our daily lives have become not only sharable tidbits, but content for the masses. With improved camera technology on mobile devices and multiple sharing platforms, we now expect authenticity in every image and video we encounter. Consumers have projected this expectation onto brands and advertising as well, requiring commercial content to engage them on a personal, real-world level to elicit any response. Storytelling remains the driving factor in visual content, and this content must be representative of every corner of the population. It needs diversity.

When we came to this realization, we thought it would be beneficial to look back at 2017 and see how content creators were finding inspiration. What we discovered is that content creators were increasingly turning inward—looking at those authentic, simple, fulfilling moments that we encounter every day. This shift could be the antidote to the intolerance and cynicism that have dominated the headlines, or a more accurate reflection of today’s demographics, but the trend is clear. Consumers no longer gravitate toward the manufactured, pristine Madison Avenue ideal. It’s much more about accessibility, relatability and connecting with imagery that reminds us of those meaningful connections we make on a day-to-day basis.

With this notion comes the responsibility to help digital creatives tell more compelling stories by providing access to beautiful, topical and affordable content. Storytelling at its core is aspirational, and we tend to relate to stories that help us tap into the best versions of ourselves through the best versions of others. In a networked and urban world, tied together by overwhelming social feeds and a news cycle that never ends, we are inundated with outside influences that don’t always reflect our day-to-day human lives. To overcome that, we search and are drawn to the emotional impact of honest, authentic imagery that is much deeper and breaks through the noise that we are consuming every day.

We believe that while storytelling remains fundamentally about aspiration, what we aspire to has changed significantly over the last few years. For decades consumers were looking for a celebrity ideal of perfection, jet-setting and allure, and advertisers followed. Even in the early days of the iPhone, Apple employed a similar version adapted for the modern world: fit, tech savvy and adventurous, a slightly more accessible version of the 1960s pitchman. With our ever increasing connected, urban world, and the belief that our headlines don’t represent the majority view, we have watched creatives and consumers alike moving away from this old idea of perfection and replacing it with a more authentic reflection of our lives.

We raise our families, live and work in diverse neighborhoods, and endure hardships. We find fulfillment not by holding ourselves to an impossible ideal, but by interacting with those we care about in a meaningful way and learning from our mistakes. The more confusing the outside world becomes, the more we retreat inward for inspiration. This phenomenon is represented by massive increases in the demand for diverse (“LGBT” searches +782% year over year), urban (“cities” +1,285%, “street photography” +162%) and realistic (“authentic” +134%, “real people” +58%) content. We want to experience connections with people and characters we can relate to—think the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street, which represents a stark contrast to trends of the last 50 years.

Always seeking out the highest quality of content, creatives are now demanding more visual media that you would typically find in your social feed as opposed to the pages of a glossy magazine. These trends indicate that there is a need for more realistic storytelling and that both consumers and advertisers alike are looking inward for inspiration. Brands that acknowledge this movement and foster a more authentic type of creative portrayal will become the ones who cut through the noise and reach their audience on a more personal level, while the others will inevitably fall behind.

TJ Leonard is the CEO of Storyblocks, which empowers the creative community by providing premium stock media at prices all creators can afford. Prior to his current role, Leonard led the marketing team at Storyblocks (formerly VideoBlocks) as CMO for over two years, and has driven customer growth, retention and monetization for consumer internet and mobile businesses for the last decade and a half.


Lead Image: Daniel H. Tong

Life is complex. From the mundane to the extreme, our daily lives have become not only sharable tidbits, but content for the masses. With improved camera technology on mobile devices and multiple sharing platforms, we now expect authenticity in every image and video we encounter. Consumers have projected this expectation onto brands and advertising as well, requiring commercial content to engage them on a personal, real-world level to elicit any response. Storytelling remains the driving factor in visual content, and this content must be representative of every corner of the population. It needs diversity.

+advertising
+Apple
+Automotive
+Brand Introduction
+content marketing
+Diversity
+IoT
+media
+Media & Publishing
+mobile
+op-ed
+Public
+Social Media
+technology
+USA
+work

Learn About Our Membership Services

Need Research Help?
As a member you can ask us any research questions and get complimentary research assistance with a 4-day turnaround. Reports inclde stats, quotes, and best-inclass examples on research topics.
Remain Informed & Strategic
We publish several trends reports each month. By becoming a member you will have access to over 100 existing reports, plus a growing catalog of deep topical analysis and debrief-style reports so you always remain in the know.
See Trends Come To Life
Meet your peers and immerse yourself in monthly trend and innovation webinars and discounted conferences.
No search results found.