Olivia De Priest
August 27, 2012
I have been using Instagram since early 2011 to enhance and for lack of a better term, make my pictures look “cooler”. It wasn’t until about 3 months ago that I really began embracing the social media aspect of the app. I guess I am a late adopter - I admit I did not give the social side a chance until I noticed my friends and brands I follow on Twitter were utilizing the app more and more. I blame my hesitation on the love and loyalty (or addiction) I have when it comes to Twitter. Although I will never abandon my beloved Twitter, I am happy to admit that I have a new social media favorite – Instagram.
The app shares many similarities with Twitter. Although Twitter recently stopped allowing Instagram users to access their API, the app does work well in the scope of social networking. Instagram allows users to use Twitter compatible hashtags and easily share photos directly to their Twitter (or other social media pages such as Facebook, who recently purchased Instagram) feed. Additionally, the simplicity of the functionality and layout as well as the personal sharing aspect are both very reminiscent of Twitter.
So, What About Brands?
Brands have without a doubt embraced Twitter, some better than others (see Alisa’s post). The similarity to Twitter is one of the reasons that make me, along with many brands that are already using the app, so sure that Instagram can be incredibly valuable for companies to further engage with followers and personalize their brand. Honestly, what is more personal than a picture that you took? Sharing an inside look at your brand with your followers through a “cool” looking photo is a meaningful and personal way to connect.
With the use of hashtags and photo sharing, marketers can also take an incentive based approach. Luxury brand designer Michael Kors is currently running an Instagram contest, encouraging users to share a photo of their Michael Kors watch, showcasing how they wear the product. The entrants use a specific hashtag along with their photo and are then entered to win 1 of 3 limited edition watches from the designer brand. The brand had over 5,000 submissions within 72 hours of launching the competition. If this is not leveraging new social media to enhance brand recognition, I am not sure what is. As time goes on, I am eager to watch how more brands use Instagram for marketing purposes. The new Photo Map feature using geo-tags has me wondering what Foursquare-like campaigns companies will develop.
Just like not all brands are good at utilizing Twitter, not all brands will be good at using Instagram. There are bound to be brands that use the app to merely add a cool effect to their text filled “Sale” images. There is a text caption field when you upload a photo, which is a great spot for brands to mention current sales promotions or upcoming events. Many brands have already carefully crafted Instagram into their social media strategy, and I have confidence that many more brands will continue to do so.
While Instagram is still relatively new and developing, it is the perfect time for brands to jump onboard and develop a more personal than ever relationship with their customers.
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