Cats and sunsets, step aside. Brands are seeing picture-perfect results.
Once upon a time, Instagram served to capture and share the world’s moments. Today, the zero-revenue startup is home to more than 300 million users. In comparison to the service’s parent company, Facebook, with 1.35 billion users, Instagram may not be deemed as a “competitor.” But the four-year-old company shows great potential to add a large sum of money to the already-deep pockets of Facebook.
We live in an era where communication is expected to be instant and convenient. Mobile communication is ever-evolving, and it’s changing the media industry. With new technology, the opportunity for accessing on-the-go audiences continues to grow for advertisers.
Instagram grabbed the attention of marketers with the success of mobile photo advertising in 2013. Focused on keeping ads creative and engaging, Instagram started advertising with a select few partners. Fashion designer brand Michael Kors was the first official advertiser in November 2013. Within days, research proved Kors’ investment to be successful. Brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Hollister, and Taco Bell jumped on board. Taco Bell saw a 29 percentage point gain in ad recall for the roll out of its breakfast menu, per data from Instagram’s user panel that pits a control group again a test group. According to Union Metrics, Taco Bell’s Instagram followers also jumped 45 percent during its month-long sponsored campaign.
The success of mobile photo advertising led Instagram to expand into mobile video advertising. The first major brands to participate in Instagram’s 15-second auto-play spots were Activision, Banana Republic, The CW Network, Disney, and Lancôme. Instagram practices a hands-on approach that allows the company to work closely with advertisers. The goal is not to change or influence the brand’s direction but to share insights that help make each photo and video ad to feel like it belongs on the platform. The objective of an Instagram ad is to tell a story and inspire users. For the purpose of full disclosure with users, advertisements are distinguished with a ‘Sponsored’ label above, and they appear on user feeds based on the targeted demographic. Just like any other picture viewed, users can hide or like the sponsored posts from their feed.
Verified badges are also a recent addition to Instagram. The verified accounts are meant for approved brands and public figures. When an account is verified by Instagram, a blue badge will appear next to the user handle, making it easier for users to follow the authentic brands they care about.
Tapping into consumer habits, demographics, and interests allows for advertisers to spend marketing budgets more effective and efficiently. As a society that highly depends upon social media, Instagram is becoming a powerhouse for audience interaction. Utilizing Instagram opens up opportunity for brands to break through the clutter and engage with their audience.
So which brands have not only established a solid presence on Instagram, but are kind of a big deal? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Below are a few of my top “Insta-branders:”