The Art of Instagram

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Instagram really is one of my favorite apps.  Not only from a user perspective, but as a great tool for marketers and brands.  Instagram allows a brand to take an editorial eye to its content, and create a two-way visual communication vehicle with its community.

Instagram has always kept a laser focus on its core product, an app for the iPhone.  They do not have an Android version yet, which makes their numbers even more astonishing.  They don’t even have a website, only one-off landing pages if you click through one of the photos from the app.

Instead of expanding their core product into print, categorization, or even searching photos, they’ve opened up their API to allow others to create. You could use Instaprint to print physical photos, Gramfeed to manage your photos, or even Casetagram to print your Instagram photos onto an iPhone case.

As a mobile network, loosely defined as a social network where the majority of activity is from a mobile device, Instagram is one of the largest, having reached Foursquare’s member base of 15 million users.  While its hard to fairly compare the two, they are still the two largest mobile networks out there today, so the comparison is important.

Brands on Instagram

Brands just aren’t using Instagram enough, in my opinion. I’ve highlighted a few brands below that, in my opinion, are creating and cultivating great communities on Instagram.

Starbucks:
With over 200,000 followers, Starbucks is one of the highest-followed brands.  Starbucks posts images of coffee cups, coffee tasting sessions at corporate, new product ideas, and various Starbucks locations around the world.  Starbucks has engaged its community by encouraging fans to post images with hashtag #starbucks. A quick search brings up over 200,000 photos. That’s a pretty big community, on one platform, on one app.

 

 

General Electric:
All I can say about GE is that they’ve been able to make jet engines look artistic and sexy, with more than 40,000 followers. If they can do that, your brand can definitely build a community on Instagram.

 

 

 

Burberry:
I love Burberry’s tag line on Instagram – “a 156 year-old global brand with distinctly British attitude.” Burberry takes you right to the front rows of fashion weeks around the world, gives you sneak peeks at new products and lines, all done in a beautiful artistic way. With more than 150,000 followers, Burberry is giving its community an inside look at what inspires Burberry and what represents the brand.

 

 

What do all these brands have in common?

Consistency. Most Instagram fans are daily, or at least 2-3 times a week, users.  If you don’t see a brand on there, and then are suddenly flooded with images, you might unfollow (same goes for Twitter and Facebook).  However, if you post 5-10 images throughout the course of the day, you stay relevant and top of mind.

Relevancy. Burberry wouldn’t post a photo of a cute kitten, as its clearly not on brand for them.  One of the most important factors in building brand awareness is staying relevant to your brand, and your audience. Not to say that one should just be posting images of the brand or its products, but more lifestyle images.  For a fashion brand, what inspires the designer?  What fashion trends are relevant and exciting?  Images should be relevant to

Community involvement. Get your community involved and engaged. Comment on your photos, respond with @ replies to your followers, and actively use hashtags.  Ask your followers to submit photos with a hashtag, judge, and repost. Automatic engagement!

What are your favorite brands to follow on Instagram? Here’s a list, in no particular order, of brands I like.

1. Burberry [burberry] 2.Bergdorfs – [bergdorfs] 3. General Electric – [generalelectric] 4. Incase [goincase] 5. NH Hoteles [nh_hoteles] 6. Redbull [redbull] 7. Threadless [threadless] 8. NBC’s The Today Show [todayshow] 9. Warby Parker [warbyparker] 10. Sharpie [sharpie]

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