Perceived authenticity and your blurry iPhone 8

Written by Grace Kennedy

If you have a TikTok account, then you have likely seen disparities in video quality and production value as you swipe from one video to the next. Creator Britney Broski posts from her toilet on an iPhone, while Disney puts out beautifully shot masterpieces.

Despite low production quality, Broski has seen great success on the app. Her videos often get hundreds of thousands of views and likes, while Disney (yes, verified Disney with a capital D) averages a measly few thousand likes per video. Why is “lower quality” content thriving on TikTok?

In the age of ravenous content consumption, the production value of content now plays a role in that content’s perceived authenticity.

As a user swipes, their eyes take in a video’s resolution, sweep to the account name and caption, and see the video through the fast-paced context of internet culture. In less than a second, they assess the content’s authenticity.

Videos with high resolution and overall production value are seen by viewers as ads and are swiped past without much thought. Creator content is typically shot on a smartphone, and the only production cost may be the package of tortillas to slap their friends with for the latest viral trend (if you have not seen this, here – just trust me). 

Most viewers are drawn to creators because they are relatable. Yes, the content may suit your interests, but the video itself makes you feel like you’re on FaceTime with a friend. It is comfortable and keeps you on the same level as the creator who begins to bond with you..

Of course, a creator could have stellar production quality and be authentic, but there is an undeniable influx of viral content filmed on regular ol’ smartphones. The quality of your content is not decided by the quality of your camera. 

Depending on your brand, you may need to produce higher quality content with greater production costs. After all, National Geographic needs to keep their reputation of having the most breathtaking videos and photography of nature. But, some brands are taking advantage of perceived authenticity through video quality. Companies such as Duolingo found success by adopting more casual and “internet cultured” content for TikTok. 

Clearly, content’s authenticity is not decided by its production value, but you may want to consider its role in how your content is perceived. Maybe you can skip the expensive camera and make a viral video from your toilet.


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