Who Are the Instagram Superstars for Innovative Brand Engagement
By Bristol Voss, Minyanville Staff Writer
Trade publisher iMedia scoured Instagram to identify which brands were capitalizing most effectively on the photosharing application famously purchased for $1 billion by Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). To date, Instagram has 50 million users according to API and 1 billion images, so hats off to iMedia's dedication.
"From a brand perspective, visual storytelling is the natural evolution of existing consumer behaviors and helps to humanize brands," said iMediaconnection. Five of the "Superstars" who, according to iMedia have found innovative ways to incorporate Instagram into their social strategies, include American Airlines (LON: AMR), Red Bull, Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF), Ford (NYSE: F), and Nike (NYSE: NKE).
We agree, simply coming up with a concept that entices users to generate content -- essentially creating their own groupthink advertisement to bind themselves further to a brand -- gratis, deserves kudos.
"Get Mobile Get Moving" was American Airline's concept for Instagram. The company publishes a weekly photo theme and users publish their content to #AApic. Every picture sent turns into a chance to win sweepstakes prizes, although not every photo is chosen to be featured on American's Facebook site.
Red Bull's #ShareYourWings program also incorporated giveaways to really tell its contacts how much they "like" the product, directing consumers to share their photos or videos via Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or Instagram microsite.
Tiffany's #TrueLovePictures program utilizes an Instagram iPhone (NASDAQ: AAPL) component that allows any other iPhone application to interact with the Instagram application. Tiffany set up three new filters that give users black-and-white, peach, and "Tiffany blue" toned options. Notably, Tiffany did not resort to any giveaways or sweepstakes but has stayed true to its soft-sell roots.
While GM (NYSE: GM) famously cut its Facebook advertising before the latter went public, competitor Ford has effectively doubled down with its Instagram advertising program in so much as the photo-sharing Instagram is part of the social networking site. Ford, much like American Airlines, posts a weekly challenge. There are no giveaways, but the pictures for Ford's #Fiestagram run in Facebook online galleries and the best submissions appear on billboards. Users are generating their own ad images targeting themselves. Interestingly, the campaign is only in Europe and does not appear to be aimed at US-based Ford fans. On a side note, the GM marketing executive who severed ad ties with Facebook, Joel Ewanick, resigned over the weekend.
Nike, famous for its "Just Do It" tagline appears to be trying out a new one in the form of its #MakeItCount campaign on Instagram. It tapped celebrity athletes to use the hashtag first and jumpstart the program. Fans of Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk Nowitzki were the first to get images tagged #MakeItCount.
Like all things advertising, successful innovation doesn't necessarily mean anything for the bottom line. The Instagram programs iMedia identified seem to be purely or mostly image-building. Interestingly, none of the iMedia five are even among the top-five most-followed brands on Instagram, for instance. That list is topped by MTV (NASDAQ: VIA) and includes Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX), E! Online, Victoria's Secret (NYSE: LTD), and Burberry (LON: BRBY)
If there's any winner, financially, it would appear to be Facebook. It makes sense that the company with the world's largest unpaid workforce of 1 billion users would also have an unpaid advertising division. Now if there were some way to get consumers to make the products they're generating advertising content for -- and then sell it to themselves -- the circle would be complete.
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