by Brittany Englert
A few pictures strategically captured, a thoughtful lens filter selected, and a few seconds later, an Instagram is created. With the touch of a finger, a simple app can turn anyone with an iPhone into a skilled artist with an eye for photography. So, what does this mean for the PR industry? Sounds like a chance to connect with audiences on a whole new level of real-time engagement, to me.
This Mashable article talks about how Ford used Instagram to let its fans promote and market the Ford Fiesta and its key features through a photo contest held with the Instagram app. Ford controlled their message by creating hashtags specific to the features it wanted to focus on and told users to take pictures of things like #entry, #music and #hidden while also tagging #Fiestagram in their post. Users were encouraged to, and did, take liberal interpretation of the hashtags, all while simultaneously promoting the Ford Fiesta. Weekly prizes motivated users to participate, including a grand prize of the Ford Fiesta itself.
Such a simple concept behind the promotion (guerilla marketing), but innovative in its approach through using Instagram, the mobile app is creating a new way for companies to market their product. By engaging their target demographic and allowing them to get creative with their pictures, Ford essentially created a way to filter itself to the top of the Instagram feed and placed themselves in view of top Instagram users.
As I read this article, I discovered that there’s more to Instagram than meets the eye. It turns out, there’s an entire movement built around the app called Instagramers. They are organized communities of Instagram users around the world, broken down into groups by country and city/state, who organize “instameets” in their area. An instameet? Yes, you read that right. It’s like the tweetup of the Instagram world and encourages communities of “Igers” to meet at a location, create a theme and hashtag, if possible, partner with local businesses or companies to offer a prize incentive, and of course, upload their images to Instagram. The developers of Instagramers also create @photooftheday contests and offer advice on topics such as “How to Become a Most Popular” and “How to Find Love in Instagram.”
Clearly, Instagram is a cultural movement that will not fade away anytime soon, and still represents this sort of underground community of people interested in capturing the beauty of their surroundings and turning even the most mundane of photos into eye-catching, creative wonders. As PR professionals, I think it’s worth taking a moment to evaluate the potential benefit of incorporating Instagram and targeting its users to create a PR campaign that utilizes the creativity of your audience and letting them engage with each other to get your message across.