From creating a fan page on Facebook to sending out tweets through Twitter, it seems brands need to be everywhere these days. Instagram, the super hot photo-sharing startup, has given brands another avenue to consider with their new tagging feature.
Instagram’s success is anything but short of amazing. The once-exclusive iPhone app (now on Android) captured the smartphone audience in fewer than two months from its launch. With more than 1 million downloads, users upload two-to-three photos a second, sharing their snapshots within their social profiles — including Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and Flickr. And in true social nature, users on Instagram can follow each other and comment.
Although the ability to easily share was a huge bonus, the benefit to these photography apps is their photo manipulation tools that allow the application of a number of different filters, creating eye-popping results.
Beyond the millions of users and photos being added every day, the main reason brands should consider utilizing Instagram is the ability to now apply “hashtags.” If you use Twitter, or have seen a brand offer a reason to go on Twitter, then you more than likely have seen or used hashtags. Essentially, hashtags allow users to create categories around relevant information. For Twitter the hashtag ‘#superbowlads’ could be used to sort comments around the advertisements during the Super Bowl.
While it works well for Twitter, when applied to Instagram we see the opportunity for an even stronger result. Hashtags on Instagram give consumers and brands a way to create photo albums around specific topics. Anyone can add photos; therefore, an album is updated in real-time. This past New Year’s, Facebook had a record 750 million photos uploaded. Imagine if a brand could have been part of this photo spree with its logo and name included in the mix.
Brands now have the ability to share visual content with consumers. Below are a few examples of how brands can use this feature to interact with a growing community, as well as examples of brands that are already taking advantage of the feature.
- Participation. At the launch of hashtags for Instagram, it was able to get news publisher NRP involved by asking followers to tag photos using #love and #hate. Nonprofit Charity Water is using its own hashtag #charitywater to get users to snap photos of their wish for clean water worldwide. While this is only scratching the surface, soon the brand can create high visibility of a campaign with little to no media budget.
- Contests. It’s Brisk Baby! That’s right — iced tea beverage Brisk launched a contest where users can submit photos that could appear on Brisk cans during the South by Southwest 2011 event. To go one step further, brands could apply a scavenger campaign that involves using photos as hints and tips.
- Interests. Encourage users to take photos that fit your brand. Today there is already heavy use around #Apple.
Users can access these albums by either clicking on the hashtag under a photo, or through the new search area. Another added bonus is that every hashtag has its own RSS feed associated with it, so you can subscribe and receive updates even when you are not using the app.
As brands continue to look for new ways to engage, the world of social photography should be top of mind — and hashtags make it easy to get involved.