What happened to the casual Instagram? The Instagram where it was okay to post whatever, whenever, with whatever filter (we have dibs on the Valencia filter), without a care in the world for quality or going viral? Instagram, in its infancy, was a fun way to connect with your friends without brands, generational aesthetics, or algorithms getting in the middle of what you wanted to post.
If you don't remember, then let's walk down memory lane with a few celebrity throwback posts circa 456 weeks ago.
Selena Gomez was ahead of her time with this pre-dance challenge video.
A car shot with a vintage filter? Classic. This one courtesy of Justin Bieber.
And then there’s Harry Styles posting a group of deer for no reason other than he wanted to.
Back then, Instagram had no pressure or headache of creating high-performing content that drives results — part of why we believe the "photo dump" trend blew up on Instagram. Photo dumps take minimal effort to create and post and are overall nostalgic of the early days of social media. In addition to being simple to create, they also drive a lot of engagement. Here, we'll discuss the photo dump trend and how brands can use it in their content strategy to increase their Instagram engagement.
What is the Photo Dump Trend?
A photo dump is exactly as it sounds– a random collection of photos that aren't too curated or edited. It's basically the image equivalent of the scrappy video technique.
You post photo dumps as an Instagram carousel, often with silly captions like "photo dump 🤪" to connect the trend to the images and caption. You can add up to 10 images to a carousel, leaving plenty of room to tell a story with your pictures. You'll often see photo dumps that feature a mirror selfie followed by a meme or a random tablescape. There's no rule or science other than giving a glimpse into a user's life. Think of it as a Behind-The-Scenes Instagram Reel or TikTok, and instead of using video, it's with static images.
Why Are Photo Dumps Engaging?
Instagram Carousel posts are consistently the most engaging type of content on Instagram, possibly because Instagram continuously shows users different photos in the carousel if they don't engage the first time. Using them to dump a series of raw, unedited images helps creators connect with their audience. Making the photo dump a valuable tool for fostering relatability between brands and their audiences.
In addition to authenticity, this trend of nostalgia is also popular on with social media. Many trends like social media challenges, popular audio from the 90s and 2000s, and photo dumps tie us back to the early days of social media. For example, a photo dump is a lot like when we would take our digital cameras with us for a night out and then upload all 75 photos of that single night to Facebook the next day. Or when Myspace users carefully picked their favorite song and had it immediately play when someone went to your profile page, which is similar to how audio immediately plays when you watch a Reel or TikTok. There's something about how simple social media used to be that's appealing to younger audiences.
PLANOLY Pro-Tip: Use PLANOLY's auto-post carousel feature to schedule your next Instagram photo dump.
What Counts as a Photo Dump?
A photo dump is like a scrapbook of images cataloging a certain event, time period, or feeling. It's an underrated form of storytelling on social media. There aren't any rules for photo dumping, and that's the point. A photo dump is all about letting go of the perfect posing, extreme editing, and heavy filters in favor of a raw look into what you're thinking, feeling, or doing at the moment. You can post a picture of a weird bug sitting on a flower in a carousel, and nobody will mind.
One thing about photo dumps is that the photos generally go together as a series because it would be weird as an individual post. For example, posting a zoomed-in image of a bug might be strange to post alone, but tucked away in a photo dump behind a more aesthetically pleasing picture. Now, that's a vibe.
Should Brands Post Photo Dump?
Yes, it's an easy way to participate in a popular social media trend. And since it's technically a carousel post, it'll drive engagement, making it a win-win for you and your performance metrics. It's the perfect balance between staying trendy while also driving results. The photo dump trend is a way for brands and creators to connect with their audiences more intimately. Not only that– it's also a super quick and easy way to throw up some impactful content. There's a lot of different directions you can take by posting a photo dump through a brand account.
How to Make a Photo Dump
Start by not overthinking it. There isn't a ton of strategy to this. Not overthinking it is the best strategy. However, here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how to execute the photo dump trend for your brand.
Photo Dump #1 Showcase an Event
Is your brand hosting an event, or were you a part of a workshop series? Share ten of your favorite photos from that event. Whether it be getting ready for the workshop you were hosting or an in-person product launch, your audience will get to see your products or team in a different light. For example, a traditional photo shoot for a new product is typical for brands, so sharing something unexpected will be a pleasant surprise.
Photo Dump #2 Debut a New Product
What about a product launch? Catalog the launch on your feed with ten pictures that describe the experience or do a product launch entirely made out of user-generated content (UGC.) UGC is anything created by users, so crowdsource your brand's recently tagged images and find ones that vary and showcase your products in different ways. Whether it be a brand meme or a casual selfie, just make sure to get creative and don't overthink how they will look together.
PLANOLY Pro-Tip: If you're scared your photo dump won't match the rest of your Instagram Grid, pick an image that's cohesive to be the photo dump's cover photo.
Photo Dump #3 Document Behind-The-Scenes (BTS) Footage
Take a BTS shot to share back as a simple day-in-the-life photo dump. Just throw up some photos of you throughout the day. Tell your audience a story about what you did, what you saw, what you ate, and how you felt via a series of photos. Note: Even if you're not a creator, followers love seeing what goes on internally for their favorite brand.
PLANOLY Pro-Tip: If you're already filming vlog-style content for Reels, snag some stills or screen grabs to double your efforts and post a daily photo dump, too.
When it comes to your captions, keep them casual and spontaneous. If you're posting photos from a specific date, use the date. You can also toss up an emoji, a thought, or whatever theme you chose, followed by the word "dump."
Photo Dump #4 Turn Your Photo Dump Into Video Content
Recently, popular TikTok creator Charli D'Amelio shared a photo dump in the form of a TikTok Video. It starts with a quick clip in her car with the caption, "What I've been up to lately." The photo dump video continues into a slide show of photos from her life over the past few weeks. This example is an excellent play on the trend and a way to turn the carousel post into a video post.
Brand and Creator Photo Dump Examples
Need some inspo? Here are some of our favorites photo dumps.
Fashion brand, Paloma Wool, isn't afraid of a little photo dump. Photo dumps make up a lot of their Instagram content. Here's a photo dump that promoted their pop-up store in New York City.
August, a sustainable company specializing in period products, posted a July photo dump. It highlighted their team by featuring views from the office, a team outing, and a BTS look into their company Slack. A post like this shows their audience how much they love what they do and are excited about their company's mission and goals.
TikTok creator Victoria Paris famous for her video vlogs, fit checks, and apartment decorating, shares a photo dump. Her recent photo dump features a lot of moments from traveling but still stays true to her brand identity by providing her audience with a glimpse into her life.
Hopefully, the idea of a photo dump series on your Instagram page excites you and takes away the pressure for perfection. Get out there, have fun, capture some of it, share and repeat.