Learn to appreciate your ugly photos!

According to an InfoTrends study for the firm Keypoint Intelligence, no less than 1.2 trillion photos were taken in 2017 across the globe, an average of 160 photos per capita. This astronomical figure is double that of 2013, just 4 years prior, thanks in main part to the increase in and the accessibility of mobile devices. 90% of these photos were taken with a smartphone or tablet.

These photos or videos are often taken on the spot, with rough framing or with a quality that is aesthetically…questionable. But also, and most particularly, it’s spontaneous and useful content which requires very little editing. Whether they were taken by customers or visitors for personal use, or by employees in a professional context, it gives rise to the same question: should we ignore the “ugly” photos?

At Keepeek, our advice is simple: we must save them from oblivion… and above all, find a way to make the most of them!

So, how do you distinguish those with true value? How do you highlight them without clogging up your servers?    

The ones you don’t like

When you think corporate photo, what most often comes to mind is an image for communications purposes. When it comes to feeding your Instagram page, your company blog or your press portal, you are sure to think of images that have been meticulously hand-picked and validated for their compliance with your communications guidelines. And oftentimes it is only these images that are used to feed content management tools and that are made available to the other business entities.

However, Marketing and Communications departments are not the only ones that build the company image. Consumers who take pictures of the products they purchase and tag the company in the photos shared on social networks, salespeople in the field who take pictures of their point-of-sale locations, product managers who film the product demo of a competitor… So many examples of content which exists, has value and can be utilised by the company. This phenomenon has intensified thanks to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement, which makes all employees active contributors to content creation.

Ugly content is therefore a real thing: it exists and circulates throughout the company. So, why turn it into an opportunity?    

Does ugly content really have value?

If content doesn’t meet the criteria for aesthetic validation, that doesn’t necessarily mean that is any less valuable. It simply means that it’s different, and reused in a communications piece, it can convey authenticity, spontaneity, truth, memory. This product positioning technique is at the heart of the communications strategies for family, food and luxury brands. An ugly photo is often more meaningful than a photoshopped one.

Using the photo to capture content on the spot certainly saves time. But you still need to be able to easily find and share them.

 

Some content is considered to have value because they are unique: a quick shot when a VIP comes to your booth, an on-the-spot video of a client testimonial… These pieces of content perhaps deserve to have had better quality, but alas, it’s too late. It is more beneficial to value this raw content, than to have nothing at all.

Taken internally, some of these photos also have an undeniably useful role. The image is often used to complement classic written supports. This is the case for example of the brochure that accompanies a creative brief, or of a chart drawn on a paperboard and which sums up a strategic meeting.

Brands are also interested in content that their own customers generate and value. This User Generated Content is particularly invaluable because it proves the quality of products or services in a neutral way.

In addition, due to the mass production of media content on YouTube or Instagram, we are accustomed to seeing content that has not been captured professionally. No one is shocked to see a poorly framed video or a slightly fuzzy photo anymore. It has even become appreciated as a stylistic technique.

In sum, ugly photos have a different use and usefulness… but are complementary to those of their “official” counterparts.    

Can we ignore the existence of ugly content?

The answer is yes of course: companies can decide not to address this issue. Besides, this is what they have done (for the vast majority of them) over the years. Except that it leads to certain risks.

The first is the arrival of new parallel information systems for storing or sharing this content. The drives of people in the general public is today full of this content, fed by employees who could find no other means by which to exploit it.

The second is the loss of valuable content. All it takes is for an employee to close their personal drive for business content to disappear instantly.

The third is due to a lack of governance, allowing employees to publish company-related content without control processes in place. Misuse, bad buzz, legal issues, the company exposes themselves to so many risks in trying to protect themselves by ignoring this issue.  

Is it easy to value ugly content?

Are you now convinced that it is essential to address the management of ugly corporate content? This is indeed a real challenge.

From the moment a company decides to take on this ugly content, it faces some serious questions: –  How do you manage such a large volume of data? – How do you organise the content so as to be able to find them? – What are the best practices and the limitations? – How do you to make those producing content aware of the legal repercussions related to image rights and or copyright?

If the company provides a platform for storing this content, it is all the more so newly responsible for its dissemination.

You must bear in mind that your ugly photos are like wild creatures: not giving them all the attention they require means risking that they’ll get away from you.    

The DAM welcomes all photos: come as you are*!

Companies now have media platforms to organise, secure and distribute official media content. These are Digital Asset Management tools.

The right step is certainly to make these platforms evolve to address this new content. Rather than increasing and complicating the processes by proposing a new tool, it makes more sense to draw on an existing solution, for which the purpose is to manage photos throughout the production chain right up until they are shared.

This means opening the DAM, which is often only accessible to the Marketing and Communications Services, to all employees. This requires a revisiting of the processes used to feed content to the DAM, and especially the classic top / down workflows (the Communications service provides a selection of images). Since they are coming from users or employees – so from the bottom, you must put in place tools and processes that allow for the easy mass storage of photos on the platform.

In order to convince these users, it is essential to have a simple tool. It must take into account the great diversity of users, some of whom are experts, some beginners. It must also be accessible from anywhere – including via a mobile app so as to integrate spontaneous uses via smartphone and tablets.

Beyond the technical aspects, it is certainly important to make users aware of the uses, risks and best practices regarding content. If the majority of this ugly content will remain within the ecosystem that produced it and will not be released outside the company, their exploitation involves clearly defined rules of governance.

For the reuse of photos in external communications (for example, in the publication of photos of points of sale, taken by franchisees), there must be restrictions on the control processes as the company’s corporate image is at stake. In Keepeek, this is possible thanks to the use of validation workflows and the fine grain management of media statuses.    

Is ugly the new beautiful?

While at Keepeek we think it essential to carefully consider the use of ugly photos in your business activities and the integration of said photos in your business-related issues, there are still some points that we need to clarify.

This recent issue, accelerated by changing tools and work habits, has not yet found all its solutions. Sharing best practices seems essential to progress.

At Keepeek, for example, we work using the Agile method and are adept at visual management, paper modeling and mind mapping. Ugly photos – even, the very ugly ones, are part of our daily lives: photos of drawings on our paperboard which accompany the meetings’ minutes. We record videos made internally of the demos for new features, which are made available to all employees. To create expert articles, we first begin by recording a video where the consultants freely engage in a discussion. The video is then used as a reference for writers and proof-readers. Daily media content saves us time and precision.

And you, how do you use your ugly photos?      

Title photo credit: fiona_adam at Morguefile.com

* Brand tagline of McDonald’s International Property Company, Ltd.