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Brand Engagement Through Instagram

March 3, 2013


Recently, Instagram has attracted a lot of attention for passing the benchmark of having 1,000,000 active users on their platform (where active users are members who use the app at least once a month). This came as somewhat of a surprise to the media after the negative publicity that Facebook and Instagram received after updating their Terms of Service agreement in late 2012.

While Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, has a larger user base and is the McDonald’s of social media platforms, I believe Instagram will be at the forefront of Facebook’s revenue model moving forward. Here are three main reasons why:

  1. Instagram was the first company to execute a great idea well. They were not the first social media or photography app to have filters, but Instagram was the first one to do it well. In fact, they did it well enough that they were bought by the biggest social media platform, Facebook (as previously mentioned) and led to the second largest social media platform, Twitter, developed its own photo filters in a reactionary move to try and drive some traffic away from Instagram. When you get the attention of the two largest social media platforms in that large a way, it becomes evident this is a big idea that is here to stay.

    Dog submitted by Oreo fan on Instagram, turned into Oreo Creme. Original image from Wieden + Kennedy, firm behind campaign.

    Dog submitted by Oreo fan on Instagram, turned into Oreo Creme. Original image from Wieden + Kennedy blog, firm behind campaign.

  2. Instagram encourages brand listening – Several brand accounts have already hosted successful campaigns and contests on Instagram, using their fans ideas to promote their products in services. One great example of this is the Oreo “are you cookie or are you creme?” promotion where fans send in a picture of everyday objects tagged with either #creme or #cookie. Then, the Oreo team creates a sculpture of the image in creme or cookie, takes a picture of it, and posts it to their brand Instagram page. By using content from their fans, Oreo is engaging their community and encouraging further sharing and two-way communication.
  3. It started monetization while still in its high-growth stage. The uncertainty surrounding many social media companies is their ability, or inability, to turn their popularity into money. I think Facebook’s main struggle is that they delayed introducing ads and other revenue models for several years, focusing primarily on growing their user base. Twitter introduced ads more quickly. Instagram already has plans to introduce ads and has had brand accounts present for some time, despite the fact that it is generally a young platform still growing in popularity. By introducing ads transparently this quickly, the Instagram community knows to expect ads and adjust accordingly.

During a recent Social Media panel I attended, the overwhelming consensus from the panel (consisting of a Social Media strategist from the Brooklyn Nets, a Co-Founder of Bleacher Report and a high-ranking Twitter official, among others) was that brands should focus on listening and engaging with their audiences through each available platform, not on blasting out their own content through a megaphone. Fans, customers and everyone else with an Internet connection now have a voice and the companies who listen and create brand loyalty will be successful.

One Comment
  1. Chris, this post is awesome! I totally agree that Instagram is going to continue to do big things – and am very curious about how Facebook will end up incorporating it more directly into their platform.

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