“Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, and then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. A world more connected through photos.”
We live in a marketing age where all of the ideological and required digital platforms exist for us as marketers to be as imaginative and emotive as we possibly can. For me, that comes down to two main factors: a) how well you know your target audience online and b) how original, informative and imaginative you can be when delivering strategy. Now the online scene has spread like wildfire, brands find existence on social sites is more often than not a necessity in modern day marketing efforts. However online audiences can differ significantly from traditional clientele. Take for example luxury brands, whose customers thrive on exclusivity that becomes lost in the web of social media – access for anyone! Now turn your head to focus on the content that makes your ‘fans’ tick. What content do they engage with most and what prompts the best response rates?
Success takes into account both a brand’s number of followers and the number of mentions of the brand through its hash tag, take #nike for example. The second measure carries significant weight. For instance, Adidas has fewer than 750,000 followers but nearly three million posts that include its hash tag. Here is my top ten ‘Insta-brands’ who have this photo-sharing platform nailed!
#1 – Nike.
Nike attained top ranking by posting high-resolution color photographs of athletes along with inspirational slogans. More recently Nike surprised everyone by offering followers the chance to customise their own shoes using Instagram photos. The NikeiD campaign emphasises the social aspect where fans get the chance to become inspiration for one another and share their design ideas with the whole social community.
With one click of a button, users can select their favourite photo as a background for the Nike Air model, which then is customised based on the colours in the photo. The website Nike PHOTOiD lets users not only design but browse others shoe concepts, purchase their own customisations and share them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. This campaign gives a new meaning to the idea of putting your own stamp on social media and has helped to put Nike as one of Instagram’s greatest brands.
#2 – Red Bull.
It’s no surprise to see Red Bull on this list, as this forward thinking company is leading not in just content marketing but in smart selling too. But on this occasion Red Bull surprised everyone by bringing a new product to life in an interesting way with Red Bull Editions, a collaborative art project called ‘Instagram Your Inspiration’.
Through the lens of Instagram, British fans were encouraged to submit inspirational photos featuring red, blue and silver using 3 hashtags: #rededitionplease, #silvereditionplease and #blueeditionplease. The best entries were brought to life with billboards, which later were displayed in five different cities around the UK. The concept differentiated from the already existing Instagram campaigns by creating a genuine collaboration with fans and giving them the chance to shine on the doorsteps of their beloved cities.
#3 – Starbucks.
Opting for quality above quantity, Starbucks avoids simple product shots and instead focuses on surroundings — capturing the iconic Starbucks cup in the reflection of a motorbike’s mirrors and in front of iconic landmarks, among other places.
#4 – Burberry.
Burberry uses its account to post iconic London shots under the effects of the popular Instagram filters. The high-end retailer also mixes in merchandise pictures, as well as behind-the-scenes pictures from photo shoots and commercial films.
#5 – Converse.
Converse’s main Instagram feed sticks very closely to their key brand message: #dontbeboring. Everything is tinted and retro, but they’ve used Instagram in their social marketing campaign called ‘My Canvas Journey’, which promotes their line of accessories. Instagrammers were given a Canyon Duffel bag and asked to document how they customised it and where they took it over 4 weeks. The bags travelled to fashion weeks, got signatures from rock stars, and made it all over the world, all the while being Instagrammed. It all culminated in an exhibition in Hoxton where the resulting photos were displayed. What’s clever about this campaign is the amount of social networks it tied into. By selecting influential Instagram users, Converse could extend their reach massively, not only over a special Instagram feed set up for the campaign, but also over Tumblr and the blogs of their influencers.
#6 – H&M.
H&M use Instagram by placing statues of David Beckham around New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Consumers who snap a picture of the statue using the Instagram mobile application with the hashtag #HMBeckham were entered into a draw for the chance to win a $1,000 H&M gift card and other prizes. The mobile ads direct users to a mobile microsite for the campaign that lets them view where the statues are on a map in their city, as well as allowing them to browse through pictures that are tagged from Instagram. Users can “Like,” tweet or pin the images directly from the site as well.
#7 – MTV.
MTV revealed Video Music Award nominees using Instagram videos. The Video of the Year nominations and others were unveiled under the hashtag #RoadToTheVMAs, with videos created by Khoa Phan, a well-known stop-motion animation creator. The photo-sharing site played a huge part in MTV’s VMAs campaign, after the brand also used Instagram photos to reveal the New York location for the awards.
#8 – Audi.
There are a few lessons to be learned when it comes to Instagram use, and one of those lessons comes from Audi. Judging by what Audi is doing, the key to success is to do what’s expected on a photo-sharing social network: share photos. Instead of utilising it as a direct marketing tool, they use it properly. When it comes to the photo filters, it’s not the most used that bring the highest engagement, but the use of the right filter that triggers a reaction from the users. Third, bigger isn’t necessarily better, and Audi’s numbers prove it. It’s not the number of followers that bring the highest engagement on Instagram, but instead it’s a combination of regularity of posting, the content of what’s posted, and how it looks.
Audi is a prime example of a company that has taken Instagram seriously and seen it pay off. This success could be more about what the folks at Audi aren’t doing, rather than what they are. Instead of using Instagram to announce promotions and deals or drive that audience to sale pages and Facebook contests (of which they have plenty), Audi simply uses the image-sharing space to share…well…images.
#9 – ASOS.
ASOS’ account is the perfect mix of outfit-of-the-day shots, pictures of models hanging out in the office, styling tips, and re-worked product images. They keep content coming with regular features such as #ThrowbackThursdays, featuring images of 90s fashion icons like Phoebe from Friends. The most interesting thing about their feed is that it’s viewable in Facebook. So even if you’re not signed up to Instagram, you can keep track of the images they post. They also use Instagram to promote their Fashion Up! app, which is a weekly downloadable magazine for the iPhone and iPad.
#10 – Sharpie.
Sharpie is a creative user of Instagram. The marker makers at Sharpie have used Instagram as an opportunity to put a personal face on their messaging. That face is usually scribbled on a sheet of paper, but it still adds a human touch.
Sharpie posts pictures drawn and submitted by fans, as well as their own remarkably talented interns. Doing so doesn’t only show off the capabilities of their product, but also gives a unique glimpse at the fun side to their office, and creates a community of users who want to showcase their talent and share their art.
There we have it; ten great cross industry brands, each using Instagram in a different light. All these brands have the same primary goal, which is to drive engagement and not use Instagram as a hard sale platform. These are a mix of inspirational; crowd sourced content and imaginative methods to gain widespread coverage.
By Content Assistant – Jack Cooper – @Coop_Attack