Introduced late in 2010, Instagram, at its simplest, is a social network for photo sharing. The free, iPhone-exclusive app garnered 100,000 registered users within the first week and currently has over 2 million registered users. On average, about 300,000 photos are uploaded each day. So, why the popularity?
Instagram allows users to easily take a snapshot from their iPhone, apply a stylish filter, and then upload to various social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Foursquare). Once the photos have been posted, other users can “like” or comment on photos, which increases their popularity. Aside from “liking” and commenting on photos, users can find friends or like-minded individuals to follow based on keywords, hashtags and a simple search function.
Hashtags, which work much like the ones implemented on Twitter, allow users to filter their photos based on specific keywords. In addition to filtering users’ photos, hashtags contain a corresponding RSS feed, which allows web users to view all the photos included in a single hashtag. One such web application that features these corresponding RSS feeds is Webstagram.
At its heart, Instagram is a social network, which makes it an interesting tool for a brand’s marketing campaign. For companies, Instagram offers a quick, easy way to generate and share visual content with existing fans as well as new ones. Here are a few ways brands can utilize Instagram to reach existing as well as new audiences.
- Offer a sneak peak – This could be an exclusive look at a new product “teaser” or even a behind the scenes look. Either way, it is a great way to provide exclusive content for your most loyal fans.
- Host a Contest – Try uploading your own content and encourage fans to create a unique caption. The best caption wins.
- Create a real time album (hashtag) for an event – Is your company heading to a tradeshow soon? Creating a hashtag for the event is a great way for attendees to share their experiences with the event and your brand.
- Be personal – Maybe your brand attracts outdoor enthusiasts? Create a unique hashtag and give users the opportunity to upload and share photos of their outdoor experiences.
As marketers look to implement Instagram into their campaigns, the important thing is to remember there is no single approach. Have fun with it and engage with your audience. In the end, isn’t that what social media is all about?
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