With the high profile acquisition of Instagram by Facebook for $1bn there is a lot of speculation about Facebook’s plans for the photo editing/sharing mobile app. CNET and the Guardian’s coverage of the takeover are the most comprehensive

CNET – Why Instagram just made the lives of Facebook’s IPO bankers a lot easier

Guardian – Facebook Instagram takeover

It also begs the question, how can brands utilise the service to drum up acquisition and engagement of fans. Currently the vast majority of the most popular Instagrammers are celebrities. There are a mere 7 brands in the top 100 most followed Instagram users and this goes someway to indicating Instagram’s main quandary, how do brands make the most out of Instagram?

  1. instagram – 1,119,118
  2. mtv – 444,581
  3. starbucks – 415,555
  4. burberry – 270,532
  5. eonline –  263,544
  6. victoriassecret – 230,527
  7. billboard – 150,200

Current functionality presents more opportunities for consumer engagement than it does for acquisition.

Engagement

Competitions are an ideal way to emphasise the UGC element of Instagram. Brands can ask their communities to challenge themselves creatively, submit an image under a competition hashtag and then reward the best submissions.  There’s the potential to run competitions directly in Statigram, using tags to find the most stunning and creative shots.

Why not try using fan images for branded profiles, there are a number of apps out there that allow brands to aggregate Instagram images by topic, what better way to thank and recognise your fan community than by creating a mosaic of their content as your cover photo on Facebook or Twitter profile background? Instarium is a great way to see the potential of groups of Instagram images.

For fashion retailers the Instagram seems tailor made for showing off products in store in an appealing and simple way to core consumers. The Levis Brazil Instagram takes every opportunity to show off the latest styles…

E-commerce

Finally, should the branded imagery you create on Instagram prove popular enough, you might turn to Instacanvas to monetize that opportunity.  The e-commerce site turns your Instagram images into canvases that the public can buy. We all love a new revenue stream where appropriate.

Search and account management

Should you want to find particular images of your products or services that consumer may have Instagrammed you can’t go far wrong with Heroku.

Finally, what is the best way for brands to manage a large Instagram community and a multitude of images? One of the best Instagram desk platforms out there at the moment is Statigram.

Statigram

Statigram (Photo credit: Felipe Vergara)

© Felipe Vergara, Statogram, Photo.

 

Even through this is a billion dollar company, it’s still very much in its infancy, after all it was only founded in 2010!  Facebook is bound to have big plans for it, especially around the integration of Instagram into the Facebook platform, as yet this is woefully under utilised.  Instagram itself isn’t making the most of integrating its functionality with that of Facebook – just take a look at its Facebook page. We’ll be sure to update you with the latest opportunities as they present themselves.

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