As photo sharing app Instagram gets bought by Facebook for $1 billion and acquires over 40 million users, we take a look at how brands are using the platform to engage with consumers.
Images: Tiffany & Co. on Instagram
Photo sharing app Instagram made all the headlines in April after its astounding $1 billion acquisition by social media giant Facebook. The smartphone application, that makes your snaps look like retro Polaroids by applying a digital filter and lets you share with friends, became a top trending topic on Twitter instantly after the news broke on 9 April - showing just how popular Instagram has become.
Since it was launched in October 2010 it has passed 40 million users (according to the ID count on Instagram’s API) so it is no surprise that brands have been quick to associate themselves with the app. Even Barack Obama has joined the network as part of his re-election campaign.
Numbers are expected to keep on growing, especially now that the app is also available on Android and not just restricted to Apple iPhone users. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have given brands a new angle on marketing and ad campaigns and a common use of them is to show consumers what’s happening behind the scenes.
General Electric’s account currently has built up a following of 67,000 and shows images like technicians working on the deck of the Evolution series locomotive or a close up of an aviation engine – images that may not necessarily be as visually engaging if they weren’t filtered using Instagram’s digital effects such as lo-fi, tilt-shift or vintage hues.
Earlier this year, the company wrapped up a campaign on the platform to find an “Instagrapher” who was flown to Wales to photograph an aviation facility. Nearly 4,000 Instagram snaps were shared and posted on Facebook where fans voted for finalists.
GE’s Executive Director of Global Digital Marketing, Linda Boff, told Adage: "We love the idea that Instagram lets us share this intersection of science and technology, but doing it from a very visual, artistic point of view. When you're as complicated as GE, how you tell the story and how you bring the company to life is incredibly important."
Denim brand, Levi’s also got aboard the Instagram train and launched a casting call for their next ad campaign which will be unveiled in September 2012. They plan to feature men and women, selected from photos submitted with the #iamlevis hashtag, as models.
Other brands that have made their presence includes jewellery name Tiffany & Co. who have images of their Fifth Avenue flagship store and behind the scenes at a workshop “where Tiffany masterpieces are born”.
Starbucks have an Instagram fanbase of over 410,000 and give followers a behind the scenes glimpse of coffee tasting sessions in the boardroom, bean-roasting machines as well as new logos and product ideas. They also make use of user generated content (there is a lot of it – arty shots of Starbucks coffees are all over social media), even featuring images on their homepage.
Image: Levi's announce casting call for models for their September 2012 ad campaign.
Images: General Electric on Instagram
The visual nature of the platform has given fashion names like Burberry and Gucci a new way to showcase their products both behind the scenes and front of house. Last year, New York department store Berdorf Goodman used Instagram’s API creatively for their “Shoes About Town” campaign. They invited users to chart Manhattan’s “shoe obsession” and snap footwear in a “natural” setting on the island, hashtag it with #BGshoes and enable Instagram’s geotagging facility. These images then appeared on an interactive map.
With Facebook’s acquisition, we are yet to see how Instagram will be integrated into the new Timeline feature, but the possibilities for brands could be ever growing.
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