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4 ways brands can start using Instagram



Little known fact about me: I’m a huge wannabe photog. And when I say “wannabe photog”, I mean “I completely suck but I love the framing, design and creativity that goes into putting together a killer shot.”

I’ve never owned a great camera. I’ve never taken a photography class. And, I really don’t know many professional photographers. Yet, I’ve always had this interest in photography. And, I’ve never really had the time or inclination to act on that interest.

Until now–and I have Instagram to thank.

After picking up my first iPhone a couple months ago, one of the first apps I downloaded was Instragram. Now, I find myself using Instagram more that Twitter or Facebook on the weekends (and I’m learning on the fly thanks to my friend Gerardo Obieta). I’m completely addicted. Here’s why:

* It’s competitive. They even have a #photooftheday competition each day. But, you can tell, among your friends, that some people are trying to out-do each other with their photos. I dig that.

* It gives me a window. As I said in my post last week, I feel like I moved to London in following my friend Allan Schoenberg’s updates lately. When folks travel (Lee Odden’s in Baltimore this week) it gives us a glimpse into their itinerary.

* It allows me to be creative. With all the filters and the tilt-shift functionality, you have a plethora of options for giving your photos different looks. It’s made photo-taking fun for me again.

But, as I nurture this new “healthy addiction” of mine, I can’t help but think about the potential this tool has for brands. Numerous blogs have written about the early adopters like Charity Water, NPR and Brisk. But, what other approaches exist for brands? Here are a few I’ve been kicking around the last couple weeks:

Live photo blog events

Is there an opportunity for you to live photo blog an upcoming sporting event you sponsor? Think about the access you have at that event as a sponsor–probably something your customers might be interested in following? Or, what about trips overseas? Again, trips your customers may not have the resources to make. Since Instagram allows you to publish photos directly to your Tumblr and Posterous blogs, a photo blog is easy to establish (and the content is archived for future reference and use).

Ask your fans to Instagram a live event

Love what the Today Show is doing with its summer concert series. In essence, they’re asking fans and concert-goers to take pics of the concerts, use creative filters and post using the #TODAYconcerts or #(insert band name here)TODAY hash tags. Each concert will have its own hash tag. Great way for NBC to track who’s talking about the concert series online–and a great way to engage fans that are probably already taking pics at these events. Many brands could mimic this approach.

Catalog “behind the scenes” content via photos

Consider Cirque du Soleil. With all the great “behind the scenes” content they share on Facebook, wouldn’t it be interesting if they shared photos from “behind the curtain” before the show starts? Or, what about shots from the crew as they set up one of those big tents on the road? Fans and customers love behind-the-scenes content–why not give it to them on a platform they’re already using?

Infuse Instagram into existing campaigns

Think about the Chevy Volt road trip campaign at SXSW this year. Now think about all the photos participants took during their journey to SXSW this spring. How many of those tech-savvy individuals had smart phones and the Instagram app downloaded? Probably quite a few. Why not ask them to use Instragram exlusively and tag photos using a specific hash tag so other iPhone users can follow along?

Those are just a few quick ideas. I’m sure you have others–please share.



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