I’m a wannabe photographer. Seriously, I used to bring my point-and-shoot camera in my bag every day just in case I found something fun or interesting to document. Lately, my purse has been feeling a little lighter. Enter Instagram and other mobile photo apps, enabling me to shoot, edit and share photos directly from my mobile. They also allow casual shooters like me to edit or enhance an image. (Instagram, for example, offers fifteen different filters with names like “Hefe,” “Toaster” and my personal favorite, “X-Pro II.”)
While I enjoy Instagram for personal use to share with others what I’m cooking, where I’m going or who I’m hanging out with, it’s also a valuable tool for brands. Obviously, I’m not alone in my infatuation with this type of app – Instagram alone has over 7 million registered users. This week’s Friday5 shares five ways for brands to best utilize mobile photography apps to connect with their audience.
- Connect mobile photo apps to previous social media channels. Instagram, picplz and InstaPhoto are platforms that allow people (or brands) to take pictures, apply filters, and show their fans what they are doing, versus just telling them. The apps allow brands to share content and create deeper relationships with their audience, and in turn connect followers over a shared passion for what you do. Most brands are already on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare, so why not connect a mobile photo stream to the appropriate social media channels?
- Share “behind-the-scenes” pictures. Brands are sharing an inside look into their day-to-day corporate office world. Giving your fans and followers “backstage access” allows them to feel more connected to specific individuals within a company and the brand overall. This has become popular not just for brands, but for larger media companies as well. For example, NBC News posted Instagram photos documenting their rehearsals for the Today Show summer concert series. Posting these photos gave their fans instant access to the inner workings of the event and, at the same time, created buzz and excitement for the concert.
- Host an event or contest on Instagram. Take a cue from Incase, the popular computer case company that hosted a competition on Instagram asking fans to share photos of the nightlife in their hometown. Consumers were asked to follow Incase on Instagram and tweet their image with a specified hashtag. People voted for their favorite photos and the three most popular photos won free products and a magazine subscription. The promotion was simple, inexpensive and effective in that it had everyone talking about the Incase brand and products.
- Suggest a hashtag so fans can submit photos to the brand. Starbucks* launched the #5more campaign, asking their fans to submit pictures documenting “what they would do with five more minutes.” All Instagram photos with the #5more hashtag appear on the Starbucks website – which is incentive for fans to snap photos and include the hashtag. Aggregating these images into a feed on your site is one way to show appreciation for your fans.
- Take caution when using photo applications. Now that you have a good idea of ways that brands can utilize mobile photography apps, it’s important to remember a few simple tips.
- Less is more with photos! Be mindful not to overload your follower’s feeds.
- Ask permission before using photos for larger marketing or product innovation campaigns. When connecting with a community and asking for their content, it’s vital to be clear and transparent that if they submit an image it no longer belongs to them personally.
Still not convinced that mobile photography apps are for your brand? Get inspired by these brands on Instagram and others from Addicted to Info’s Tumblr. Then, take a look at your brand and consider how incorporating a mobile photo app could align with your content strategy.
Here are a few brands utilizing Instagram:
Which other brands do you follow that are using mobile photo applications to engage audiences effectively?
*an Edelman client