A picture is worth a thousand words.
This is increasingly true for brands on social media. Last year Twitter prioritized images by bringing native photo sharing to the platform layout; Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm shows preference to posts with photos; and the new Timeline format allows brands to add a huge banner cover image to their pages. Not only that, but social sites based around visuals are taking off – Tumblr, Pinterest, Polyvore and Instagram.
The most photography-focused of these is Instagram, the iPhone app that allows you to take, edit and share photos with your friends. It was the first social app to cross a million users in just three months, and today, over one million users add the app each week. Why is it so popular? Everyone wants to be an artist and looking at pretty pictures inspires people!
Brands are now entering the Instagram scene by showing off images that convey their core message, without looking like they came straight from Corporate. The emerging role of brand journalists is helpful for this. They look at your brand as an outsider would, and create content (in this case, filtered photographs), that is real and that others will want to look at. Brand journalists are experts at finding these unique nuances and interesting facets of a company.
The beauty of a photograph is that a person can truly “get” a brand through an image, without the brand having to spell out the approved marketing messaging. Here are a few examples of brands using Instagram well:
Levi’s: At the beginning of this year, Levi’s announced plans to cast their next ad campaign using Instagram. Users of the service could take any photo of themselves and tag it #IAMLEVIS for a chance to star in the September ad. Here was their announcement image:
Tiffany & Co: To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Tiffany & Co. asked fans to submit their favorite images of love with the hashtag, #TrueLovePictures and it then created a gallery of the top submissions within its What Makes Love True microsite, full of real love stories, a playlist of romantic songs, and Tiffany’s Tips for “when love gets serious.”
The City of NY: New Yorkers are known for being smart and savvy, so the city’s latest campaign, an Instagram Facebook photo contest announced last week, is sure to be a hit. Users are encouraged to snap pictures of the reasons they love NYC with the hashtag, #loveNYC for a chance to have their photo featured in Times Square, the city’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages.
An image allows you to capture your personality, your point of view and your purpose, all through a single snapshot. Don’t you feel like you understand these brands so much better after looking at these images? Gives me the warm fuzzies and makes me appreciate the brands (and the city I live in!) that much more.
The major barrier companies face when embarking on an Instagram campaign is that it limits exposure to iPhone users. It depends on your target demographic – campaigns using this platform will resonate better with Gen X & Yers, and those who enjoy social sharing and trying fun new technologies. Good news, though – Instagram should be launching on Android phones any time now!