After its launch at the end of 2010 Instagram took the mobile world by storm. Eighteen months later it was bought by Facebook and now has more than 300million users… and counting. This month Instagram switched on its API for ads and is now officially open for business.
People are more ad-savvy these days and know when they’re being served a brand message. Brands are getting smarter too and know that to get themselves seen they need to continually push the boundaries creating new, imaginative and engaging content. As a purely visual platform Instagram was made for creativity and these are some of our favourite marketing campaigns we’ve seen without a paid promotion in sight.
Harnessing user generated content
Back in 2011 indie band The Vaccines made a music video that was almost entirely crowd sourced using fan photos submitted via Instagram using #vaccinesvideo. Relying on user generated content is always a bit of a gamble but with more than 3000 great festival images to choose from it was definitely a success.
Creating videos (before the video days)
There was a time not so long ago when Instagram didn’t support videos so when the Toronto Silent Film Festival wanted to tease its event on Instagram it got creative. By combining the scrolling functionality of smart phones and multiple photos they essentially created their own short film.
Creating Instagram catalogues
Last year IKEA Russia turned Instagram into a website to promote the PS 2014 collection. Each page was set out like the catalogue and users navigated the pages using tags. Each product had its own page full of images and product information, and users were encouraged to tag products in their own photos offering up a further pool of inspiration to customers. Very clever.
The most creative use of Instagram I’ve seen recently involve brands using the photo-tagging feature to create ‘Instagames’. Sci-fi show Rick and Morty used Instagram to create the ‘Rickstaverse’, an interactive map featuring 80 linked Instagram accounts which create 25 levels for fans of the show to explore planets and landmarks from the series. Players were rewarded with a journey full of Easter eggs, mini-comics and exclusive snippets from Season 2.
Old Spice have also used the tagging feature to create a tongue-in-cheek ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ game filled with robots and retro monsters. The campaign uses black and white comic book style illustrations and encourages users to tap their way though their chosen journey. Make a wrong decision and you’re met with comedic captions, often making a playful dig at advertisers.
Miller Lite is tapping into the typography loving millennial market with a series of posts aimed at graphic design loving guys. They noticed a growing social audience using #typography, #thedailytype and #graphicdesign and responded by crafting a series of posts that are being promoted to males between 21 and 34 years old.
Virtual scavenger hunts
Heineken’s Crack the US Open contest used Instagram and 200 photos to create one giant panorama of the crowd. Over three days they released a clue and a codeword on the Heineken Instagram account which sent their community to search for a particular fan in the photo where there would be more clues to follow waiting for them. The first person to find the final photo and comment with the code word won tickets to the tennis. Over 1500 people followed the clues and Heineken saw a 20% increase in followers during the contest.