How to Use Photo Dumps to Curate Authenticity on Social Media

The Loomly Team

Brands have long tried to leverage authenticity on social media. However, one of the foremost issues marketing teams need to overcome is the fact that there’s nothing less authentic than appearing like you’re trying too hard.

Being genuine, knowing how to overcome social media risks, and planning ahead are all big parts of what makes a splash on social media. And in current times, it’s key to stay on top of emerging trends and keep your brand ahead of the game.

So, how do you make your posts appear effortless when you’re actually putting in a lot of work? The photo dump trend on Instagram might be the formula for the authenticity you’ve been looking for. A few photos tagged with a curated caption can get your brand some time in the spotlight that it so deserves. 

Under normal circumstances, no one likes getting dumped, but it might be the best thing that has ever happened to your social media strategy, and it may be the secret to targeting the right customers for your brand.

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What are photo dumps?

A photo dump refers to a series of up to 10 images uploaded in carousel format.

It’s recently become a favorite for all types of Instagram users, including influencers, brands, and even politicians, to have an Instagram photo dump. In fact, over the past year, interest in the photo dump trend grew 25% to reach a volume of 30K searches in the month of April.

Check out this example of a photo dump from the one and only Harry Styles:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @harrystyles

Now, you might be dreading the idea that you need to curate 10 images for every post, but most carousel posts on Instagram have just two slides. So, don’t be afraid of micro photo dumps because you can still get your point across in just a few images. In this case, less really is more. Fewer photos mean less work on your end, but having the carousel should increase engagement. 

There are several notable benefits to the Instagram photo dump phenomenon:

  1. Instagram carousel posts get significantly higher engagement rates than single-image posts.
  2. It’s a low-effort format: photos don’t have to be perfectly edited. Authenticity is key.
  3. Photo dumps are a great way to establish a deeper connection with your audience by sharing a “behind the scenes” look into your brand.

Graphic showing the recent and (arguably) historical rise of photo dumps

(Image Source)

Why you should add photo dumps to your social media strategy

Currently, #photodump has over three million posts, and that’s just representative of those that used the hashtag. Photo dumping likely started organically with your friends dropping their best vacation, wedding, or event photos in one go, but there’s a reason the trend is still growing.

Photo dump carousel posts have the highest engagement rate of any format, averaging .72% engagement rate across 14 industries, compared to .68% for Reels.

See how Emma Chamberlain gives her followers an inside look into her experience at the Met Gala:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by emma chamberlain (@emmachamberlain)

So what is it that’s driving up engagement on photo dump posts? The answer rests in the origin of the trend, which is rooted in user-generated content. The most popular carousel posts often leverage an authentic, relatable, behind-the-scenes feel to make followers feel like they’re getting a sneak peek into the influencer’s personal life or the brand’s inner workings.

Conversely, the more polished photo dump posts take advantage of the swiping effect to turn still images into engaging narratives. This plays on the inherent and socially developed tendency of your audience to pay attention to storytelling.

Curating an authentic carousel

Perfecting your photo dump posts

People have liked carousels since well before the advent of social media, but since going digital and ditching the horses, the likes are quantifiable. Case and point, regardless of account size, the median number of likes per post is higher for carousels than videos or images.Graphic showing that carousel posts get the highest number of median likes

(Image Source)

So, how do you effectively put together your own photo dump? Well, there’s no truly wrong way to go about it, but there are definitely some best practices you should be aware of.

So, how do you effectively put together your own photo dump? Well, there’s no truly wrong way to go about it, but there are definitely some best practices you should be aware of.

Let’s take a look at 3 things you need to tap into when working on your Instagram strategy and photo dump content.

1. When to use photo dump posts

Because carousel posts are playing off an uncurated aesthetic, they’re particularly suited to less obviously branded posts. However, you don’t want to go too far afield or you risk confusing your audience.

There are several common formats that can turn a random collection of photos into a cohesive narrative — let’s go through them.

Educational content: Use photo dumps to keep users swiping on your carousel post and learn something educational. That will keep them engaged in your brand while learning something new on one of your social channels.

An example of an educational photo dump carouselEvent posts: Posting photo dump images from a brand event makes your followers feel like they’re in on the fun.

Backstage pass posts: Offer a behind-the-scenes look into your production process or office environment to give your followers the inside scoop.

In the moment dumps: Generally, you want your Instagram photos to have some of aesthetic, but that’s the beauty of Instagram photo dump, nothing has to be picture perfect! If you are a brand with a new service or product launch, consider strategizing your first photo dump with random photos that tell a story of what your brand is working on.

An example of an uncurated aesthetic of an Instagram photo dump

Sneak peek posts: Update your followers with a series of photos showcasing your new product launch or rebrand.

Throwback posts: Walking your followers back through your brand history with throwback photos can make your audience interested in your brand’s narrative. Check out this example from Kim Kardashian:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian)

User-generated content; Engaging your audience by including them in your Instagram grid is a sure way to boost your Instagram presence. Simply round up user-generated images from your brand with any important details to create a captivating post.

2. Selecting and sequencing a mix of photos to boost engagement

Your photo dump images don’t need to be highly curated, but they should have a throughline that connects to their subject matter.

In this scenario, you should certainly embrace imperfection as it adds an additional layer of being genuine. If you’re covering a product launch, then keep your photos related to the new item by showcasing elements like the production process or the new branding initiatives.

The only hard and fast rule when it comes to photo sequencing is to put your most captivating image as your cover photo. Ideally, you also want the following slides to tell a story. For instance, if you’re posting a throwback photo dump, then you could turn it into a timeline by starting with your oldest photos and progressing onward from there. Basically, try to create a logical progression of visual information with sequencing.

Think of how often you have found yourself scrolling on social media and how the right story made you swipe right to learn more. Authentic and educational content is what will keep people coming back to your brand. Tap into these elements to create an amazing social media plan, and you can set your brand up for some social media success.

3. Crafting the perfect photo dump caption

Your captions should match the photo dump’s format. The photo dump captions should tie the narrative you’re creating with your photo selection and sequencing together.

There are some trending caption ideas that you can leverage to add to the relatability of your Instagram photo dump trend. Here’s some inspiration:

Event posts: 

  • About last night…
  • Celebrating (event name)
  • A few of our favorite snapshots from (event name)Hands holding sushi burritos on an Instagram recap post

Backstage pass posts: 

  • See what happens behind the scenes here at (photo location)
  • Just an average day here at (brand name)
  • How we make the magic happenA screenshot of an influencer's photo dump with a brand collaboration

Sneak peek posts: 

  • Just between you and me…
  • We want to let you in on our exciting news
  • We wanted to tell you first about our new (product name)An Instagram post of a sneak peek from a real estate agency.

Throwback posts:

  • (Year), a year in review
  • Throwback to the start of (brand name)
  • Our journey so farAn Instagram throwback post

Schedule your photo dumps with Loomly

The ultimate goal of a photo dump post is to include additional elements to a post that audiences can engage with. By simply adding a few slides, you can turn a still image into a story, which is what’s made the trend so successful with influencers and brands alike.

It’s the ‘more is more’ principle in action.

Despite the fact that you can boost your engagement metrics with an unfiltered aesthetic, there’s no getting around the fact it takes a little extra planning to put together a collection of photos. So, you could benefit from a tool that simplifies the entire process.

Loomly offers a centralized collaborative platform that allows you to create, optimize, schedule, and analyze your posts all in one place. And its state-of-the-art automation features can save you so much time. Loomly provides the best customer support in the industry, so you’ll always have someone in your corner.

Visit loomly.com to learn more about how Loomly can help you schedule your first photo dump.