When I first got on Instagram (wayyyyy back in 2011) the burgeoning social network had fewer than 5 million users and was still largely untapped as a marketing channel for many small and big brands. A year and a half later, Instagram is on version 3.0, has over 80 million users, has been acquired by Facebook and 40% of the Interbrand 100 are now using the service for social media marketing.
It probably comes as no surprise that many of the top brands on Instagram are the same ones who are extremely active on other social channels, and were early adopters of the photo network. MTV, Starbucks, Burberry and Nike are the top 4 brands on Instagram, all with more than 300,000 followers and high engagement rates.
Here’s a look at 7 creative brand campaigns using Instagram:
J’Espere Que Tu Vas Bien
The French Canadian experimental film (whose title translates as “I hope you’re well”) teamed up with an ad agency to work with the Instagramers Montreal Collective to create 87 posters to promote the film. The movie, which runs for 87 minutes and is entirely improvised, used the Instagram shots from iphoneographers who walked the city for the same 87 minutes, visiting locations used in the film and snapped filtered shots on their phones.
Unsurprisingly as both technology early adopters and lovers of the Polaroid, fashion brands are particularly taken with Instagram. Giorgio Armani is getting in on the act with its frames of life campaign. The brand asks followers to upload a picture of them wearing sunglasses, and when you visit the Frames Of Life site, Instagram pics are pulled in alongside the frame styles in their new collection.
This integrates two popular trends in social media and digital marketing- integrating social media into websites and using user generated campaigns to source campaign material.
While the ‘Frames of Your Life’ campaign has been run previously for Armani, the Instagram element is a new addition, which you can take part in by uploading a pic to Instagram with the hashtag #framesoflife.
Red Bull is a huge force in the social media marketing world – with their own media arm of the company producing engaging content mostly focused on outdoor and extreme sport athletes.
However, Red Bull is taking their visual storytelling to new heights using Instagram to both post their own images (to their 315,00 followers) as well as source user generated content from their fan and follower base.
Red Bull uses multiple hashtags that represent different types of content, such as #GivesYouWings, #shareyourwings, and #FlyingFridays. Red Bull also created a branded hub on a microsite, where fans can share their umages via the #shareyourwings hashtag across Twitter, Faceook, Instagram and Tumblr in exchange for free products.
>>Read about more user-generated social media campaigns
Ford focused on using visual imagery to power the marketing for their car, the Ford Fiesta, with their campaign “Fiestagram,” which was rolled out to European markets. The campaign asked fans and Instagram users to upload photos in different categories inspired but the technologies and features of the car.
Each week, Ford communicated with their followers the hashtag associated with the challenge. The brand then pulled the hashtaged photos into a tab on their Facebook page. The campaign generated over 16,000 photos and helped Ford gain 12,00 new Facebook fans during the course of the promotion.
Last April, Whole Foods ran yet another hashtag, user-generated campaign using Instagram to source photos and content from their community. Each week during the course of the month, Whole Foods selected a new theme that captured “one reason why it’s more critical than ever that we take special care of this world in which we are lucky enough to live” and then encourages users to upload their photos with the #WFMEarth hashtag. One weekly winner was selected to win a $100 gift card to the grocery store.
Whole Foods gets the power of their community and what it can do to help achieve their marketing goals. The grocery chain understand their consumers are savvy and creative, becoming the facilitator of creativity and providing the occasion and opportunity to show off, get recognition and maybe even collect a reward for sharing their photos.
>>Read more tips on how to use hashtags for effective marketing
Travel and visual imagery go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense the airline carrier used the photo network to power a recent marketing initiative. American Airlines published a weekly photo theme and then invited their users to submit photos via Instagram (and other social media channels) using the hashtag #AApic.
Selected images from the user-generated social media campaign were then featured both on the brand’s Facebook page and on a dedicated microsite. The visual images associated with the themes provided a more-compelling call to action and structure for consumers to create content on behalf of the brand. Ultimately, the American Airlines program netted more than 69,000 total photo submissions.
This small, family-run business based in the UK shows that you don’t have to be a big brand to pull off big wins in your social media marketing. McKay Flooring is a great example of how a little creativity can be used in social media marketing to greatly expand reach and awareness.
While initially it wouldn’t seem that a family-owned flooring business would be all that conducive to Instagram marketing, the company is heavily using visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to promote their business and products.
McKay Flooring announced the Instagram contest on their blog, asking users to snap photos of their favorite wood floors and upload it to Instagram with the hashtags #mywoodfloor and #mckayflooring, and then offered a £100 Amazon Voucher to the winner.
Sports Illustrated’s August 31 issue will feature 20 Insatgram photos accompanying the print article on NFL training camps. According to a spokesperson for the magazine, the Instagram feature wasn’t pre-planned, but after editors started seeing the photos staffers and reporters were posting to their own personal Instagram accounts during the training camp road trip, they decided to run some of the images with the printed version of the story.
This isn’t the first time Instagram photos have appeared on the pages of Sports Illustrated. The previous month, the magazine filled a six-page feature with shots from baseball stadiums and spring training around the west.
It’ll be interesting to see if and how the social online world collides with the traditional print media world.