Your travel pics and adventures give your followers a feel-good narrative to follow. But if you’ve been “doctoring” them too much, you might get into a spot of trouble with the online community. Given that everyone edits their pics, and that social media is more fantasy than reality, how much editing can you do without causing offence if you’re caught out?
Before you reach for your favourite free background remover and start getting creative with your images, you might want to pause and ask yourself how much is too much? To a certain extent, the amount of image editing that social media followers are comfortable with is a matter of personal choice, but you might be going too far if you aren’t meeting a few basic criteria.
1. You Look Like Yourself
There’s currently a lot of backlash against excessive use of editing to transform yourself into your idea of a supermodel. Although most social media users are accustomed to “tweaked” images, transforming images of yourself to the point where they have little to do with reality is generally frowned upon. Tech savvy users are quick to spot telltales that show that you’ve been playing fast-and-loose with reality. So, while you might improve on what the camera sees – at least a bit – be careful about taking it too far.
2. Those Really Are Your Images
Not altogether happy with your images of Paris by night? Resist the temptation to use someone else’s images, even if they are open-source and you can use them without infringing anyone’s copyright. Although “borrowing” other people’s images isn’t strictly-speaking editing, it’s a definite no-no for your socials and has to be mentioned.
3. You do Edit, but It’s Subtle
There’s absolutely no reason to publish completely unedited photos simply for the sake of authenticity. In fact, you might find that you need to edit your images a little just to make them look like what you actually saw. Adding light, contrast, cropping a little, or even using a filter to improve your composition and build atmosphere are not social media sins. In general, however, your editing will be subtle and will enhance the scene rather than transform it.
4. You’re Living the Dream, not Creating a Fantasy
Don’t you love following people who are living the dream and sharing it on social media? One can get really engaged in their stories. But if you find that a great deal of what they posted is sheer fantasy and never happened, you can’t help feeling let down – even
betrayed. If you do create fantasy edits, be sure to caption them as such. Never present fantasy “as” reality. It becomes a trust issue if you do.
5. Edit, But Don’t Be Formulaic
Getting called out for doing a bit of editing of your social media images may seem extreme, but it can result in a minor social media storm. One travel instagrammer was inclined to substitute less-than-desirable skies, got caught out, and had to weather quite a lot of publicity for what is, after all, a harmless form of photo editing that just about anyone else would resort to.
So, while the fact that you’re editing is taken as a given by all but the most naive social media users, do make it subtle enough to avoid exciting comments, and avoid being formulaic. You might just find yourself explaining the weather that follows you! Last tip? Don’t buy followers. If you want to grow your following, use accepted methods like sponsoring your posts. Rely on your images to do the rest!