June 04, 2012

Why Marketers are Borrowing Instagrammer’s Photos

Everyone has heard the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” at least once or twice, but nowadays don’t be surprised if you hear it more often. It was this old proverb that inspired Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger to launch a free photo sharing program called Instagram in October 2010. Instagram allows users to take photos on their mobile devices, edit them, apply cool filters, and then upload them to a variety of social media networks including Instagram’s own. Shortly after its launch, Instagram was made available in Apple’s app store for download on all Apple products. By December of 2010 Instagram had already acquired one million users and by June 2011 they had grown to five million users. More recently, in April 2012 Instagram was launched on the Android platform had acquired 30 million registered users. That’s a lot of photos!

Now with more than 50 million users, Instagram is not just another advertising strategy for big brands. Since the site is advertisement free, brands must come up with authentic and engaging visuals to convey their message and inspire fans. More so than advertising, brands on Instagram are essentially storytellers trying to show viewers what their brand stands for or what they wish to convey, whatever that might be. That’s one of the greatest parts about Instagram; your pictures are worth a thousand words.

Instagram’s popularity plays heavily off of the unique and creative way people can share their lives with each other through visuals. And the simple fact is that people love taking pictures and sharing them with their friends. So how can big brands take advantage of this to market their products and services? Not only are big brands hiring active users on Instagram but they are also creating their own Instagram streams for customers to follow. Brands such as Barney’s New York, Volvo, and Delta are just a few who have hired Instagram users with large followings to help them promote their brand. These companies will offer incentives such as cash, trips, or their products to these users in exchange for images of given products or events.

An example of this is when Delta invited six Instagrammers to take pictures of the playoff hockey game between the New York Rangers (which the airline sponsors) and the Ottawa Senators from Madison Square Garden. Not only were the Instagrammers paid but they were also given access to Delta’s Sky360Club while they were at the game. After all was said and done it was estimated that Delta had made more than 5.6 million impressions, the total number of photos broadcast by the Instagrammers multiplied by their total number of followers. This type of marketing with Instagram helps create intimacy with followers of the brands who wouldn’t normally be able to attend these events or see the images in the photos for themselves.

Another way that brands are utilizing the site is by simply creating their own streams on Instagram. Brands such as Red Bull, Starbucks and General Electric have taken to creating their own streams to share their very own photos with their followers. For example, you’ll see more than light bulbs on GE’s Instagram account. Its main objective is to show off GE’s work in different industries. Fans get to see larger than life images of trains, plane engines and, of course, their employees. Starbucks focuses their stream on highlighting in-store experiences around the world and showing how new coffee flavors are developed and tested at Starbucks headquarters. Red Bull shows fans pictures of extreme sports in action all over the world. Brands with their own streams are able to create and control the content and can paint a picture of the brand that fans haven’t seen before. From behind the scene exclusives to everyday happenings, fans will appreciate the creativity of big brands on Instagram.

Contributed By: Nicole Juliano

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