Designing the World of Digital Experience

Brand Marketing with Instagram

Photo from TechCrunch under Creative Commons

Instagram just announced some big updates at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. They have updated the appearance and re-engineered the app to perform faster.

So now with Instagram approaching the 10 million user mark, brand marketers want to learn how to use the platform to connect with their fans. Let’s take a look…

What Is It?
Instagram is a social photo sharing app that let’s you create and share pictures with your network via Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Flickr and Tumblr. It has an easy-to-use interface that encourages creative photos using vintage filters (similar to the popular Hipstamatic).

Rapid Growth
Instagram is growing twice as fast as Foursquare — which grew faster than Twitter — which grew faster than Facebook. According to “Zuckerberg’s Law of Information Sharing“… each year the number of people sharing information doubles in size. This is great news for anyone launching a new service wanting quick distribution. As the number of social platforms grows, there is exponential growth in the amount of sharing.

Here’s a good infographic that visualizes the data around Instagram’s growth.

Benefits of Instagram for Brand Marketers

  • Gives a voice to your fans with user generated content
  • Highly Creative & Easy to Use
  • Built-in social sharing functions expand your reach

Five Global Brands That Have Experimented With Instagram
It seems Ideal for consumer brands, lifestyle & fashion companies and news organizations

  1. Starbucks – The coffee giant uses Instagram to enable their fans to share their everyday moments with Starbucks coffee. (hashtag #starbucks)
  2. ABC News – I like what they are doing by creating a Visual News feed. They post photos from the day’s news (hashtag #abcworldnews)
  3. Red Bull – “Whatever [marketers] do, they should not lose sight of Instagram’s core mission: sharing a passion for photography and stunning images,” said Red Bull spokesperson. (hashtag #redbull)
  4. Levi’s Brazil – Many Instagram users come from Brazil, so Levi’s created a profile (hashtag #levisbrasil)
  5. BMI baby – The low-cost UK airline (subsidiary of BMI) is using Instagram to announce company news. (hashtag #bmibabygram)

Lessons Learned From Those Experiments
It’s always good to watch the first movers and learn lessons about what they did well and what you can do to improve upon their experience. Instagram is an easy non-intrusive way to celebrate your brand in people’s lives.

  • Use a consistent hashtag to curate the rich range of photos.
  • Use it to share brand messages
  • Don’t be too over-promotional about your brand, but be sure to highlight the people in your community and let them be the collective voice for your Instagram feed.
  • Capture behind-the-scenes images and share them with your fans.
  • Activate you fans and encourage them to share.

Get access to the Instagram API by signing up for their Developer Program

Right now, it’s only available as an iPhone app, but CEO Kevin Systrom recently confirmed that the Android App is coming soon:

“It’s hugely important to us, but we’re only six people. Android is a major priority for us, but first we have to build the team, and find the best people in the world to work on these projects. The company is currently hiring engineers and designers to help it move more quickly on all three of these aims.”

Flickr has been a hugely popular social photo sharing site, but Instagram has taken the social photo sharing capability one step further by having the app built into your smartphone. Pretty cool stuff… what do you guys think?

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS