“Saaaay Instagram!”

Instagram is a mobile social media network. Pictures are the only content users can upload. There are no clickable links. Nor are there special types of profiles for businesses or celebrities. By doing this, Instagram has in a sense leveled the playing field. Brands, as of now, cannot pay to have their content promoted or purchase any sort of advertisements on Instagram.

So why would a brand be interested in this? There doesn’t seem to be an advantage from a business perspective. How could a brand get the word out about their Instagram without being able to promote within the network? This is where the share ability on Instagram comes into play. Instagram users have the ability to share their Instagram posts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursqaure. Additionally, brands can use relevant hashtags on their pictures to draw Instagram users who may be interested in what they are Instagramming to their business account.

Now that it is clear how a brand could draw traffic to their Instagram, it is interesting to look at the content brands post on Instagram and how these posts contribute to their brand identity. The content of the posts will vary on the type of brand and each brand’s individual needs. For example, Taylor Swift utilizes Instagram as a way to communicate her thanks to her fans and visually share parts of her life with them. Many celebrities use Instagram in this manner. It is effective in helping fans see celebrities as relatable people, and makes them seem less out of touch with the everyday reality.

Larger brands can also use Instagram in a variety of ways. Two of the largest brand accounts on Instagram offer an interesting comparison. Starbucks uses pictures taken of their products by customers that hashtag pictures with “#starbucks.” MTV takes pictures of celebrity visitors, backstage/onstage at awards shows, newly released videos or singles… anything that is happening at MTV is pretty much free game. Is one better than the other? The answer lies in brand identity. Starbucks strives to make a heartfelt connection with their customer base, while MTV relies on sparking their customers interest with the celebrity factor. For Starbucks, trying to make a heartfelt connection works. While they are an international chain, as a brand Starbucks wants to keep that feeling of the neighborhood coffee shop alive yet still provide consistent products globally. By highlighting the existing Starbucks customer base, the brand still appears personal.  MTV takes another route by using Instagram to revive their brand identity of music television. The majority of their Instagram is focused on new songs, videos, and musician sightings. This is a major change from their actual televised programming which ranges from scripted shows such as, Awkward. to reality shows such as the infamous Jersey Shore. By using their Instagram to focus on their musical brand identity, MTV is returning to their roots. Instagram is a way to appease the viewers who prefer the old MTV without all of the television shows.

Whether it be your average individual using a filter to feel artsy or avid Starbucks drinkers expressing their love for a drink, this social networking site is creating a sense of community through a few simple taps on your smartphone. Brands can use this sense of community to make their customers feel more in touch with their products. Try scrolling down Starbucks’ Instagram feed without having your mouth water! Now where’s my Pumpkin Spice Latte?!

– Alexandra Huss, Caroline Merrill, Alyssa Morrello, Lauren Van Trigt, Dann Williams

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9 thoughts on ““Saaaay Instagram!”

  1. Instagram is definitely the next big thing in social media. I also feel it was a natural transition. As Facebook as lost some of its esteem, Twitter is now the primary source for written expression. Most people claim they still have Facebook for two purposes; to maintain relationships with people who aren’t part of other networking sites, and to have a site that can be used for photo upload and storage virtually anywhere and on any apparatus. With this being said, developing an app focused solely on photography and friend request seemed genius. It is an essential kit in developing ones own personal brand, however, as it has risen in growth, more and more celebrities and companies are taking use. Take for example the Kardashians, each family member has as an account with millions of followers. It can almost be guaranteed that at least one person uploads a picture a day with hostages of “kardashiankollection” or “arthurgeorge”. Now they promoted their business to millions of people directly on their phone with no advertising cost. Brilliant. This promotion and brand development is essentially free as long as one can collect followers and promote the use of the hashtag.

  2. I love reading about social media because its so relatable. I like that Instagram is so simple. There is no profile to create or lengthy about to me type up. It’s just spur of the moment pictures that people post on a whim. I agree that celebrities use it to be more relatable to their fans and I like that. It’s nice being able to see Kim Kardashian post a picture of her just hanging out with her friends at their house rather than just seeing her glammed up on the cover of People magazine. It reminds fans that these people are just as relatable and normal as we are.

  3. I love your acquisition of brands productively using Instagram! It almost seems as though Instagram has been able up to this point escape all of the “extra” advertisements we all complain about on facebook, etc. Due to the minimal features of Instagram it is a great way for brands to be able to just do what they want to do, share their product.

  4. I agree with the statements made about how/why celebrities use Instagram. They are using it as just another tool to “brand themselves”. They want their audience to feel more connected to them because they are allowed to get a glimpse into their personal life. Although, I don’t know how much of their real personal life your getting because I am sure that all their posts on Instagram (as well as every other networking site) are monitored. They want to be perceived in a certain way and each picture they post helps assist in this perception. They understand the importance of every post. One picture that doesn’t match up with the way their personality is perceived, can hurt them significantly.

  5. Instagram is popular to a lot of people ecause it doesn’t have all of the cluster and nagging ads that facebook and twitter had on the screen. Businesses can still promote themselves because they already have an avid fan base, just need to find away to connect with their fans through Instagram, which I think companies are doing a great job of.

  6. I found this article extremely interesting because I also have an instagram and I have seen first hand exactly what you are talking about. I follow different celebrities and I feel like sometimes they almost stage photos in order for their follows to perceive a certain image. I never really thought about how there aren’t any available ways for advertisers to put their links or ads directly on the page seeing as it is only a picture feed. I also didn’t realize that they were able to integrate through other means, such as using certain hashtags to draw in a certain audience base, or having their company a specific instagram user. I feel like knowing these things now I will be more aware of different advertising techniques used by bigger corporations.

  7. I think that Instagram has because an important foil for Facebook and Twitter. I think that it has a unique setup, and is the outlier out of Facebook and Twitter. For example my instagram followers and those I follow are drastically different than those I connect with on Facebook. I have just started “Instagramming” within the last three motnhs, and I am actually proud of the pictures I have posted so far. I do not feel artsy, but I simply enjoy the fact that my pictures and experiences can be visually expressed. I think instagrams differences with Facebook and Twitter will alow it to excel avoid the normal social media criticisms.

  8. I love the way you related Instagram to Brands. I personally use Instagram about everyday, and like you said it is a community of people sharing what they like the most. I think it is ironic that you related the brand of Starbucks to the topic as well, because personally I have about 3 Starbucks pictures, displaying my favorite drinks. Instagram has become a channel of communication to show of what your favorite brand is and why. I found your piece very interesting as correlates socail media directly to information we are learning about brand labels

  9. I love using my instagram, it’s a great way to upload pictures and see other pictures without all the garbage of the other social media sites. I also think it’s more of a choice unlike the others if you want to see brands or follow celebrities on there. I’m sure at some point instagram will cave in like every other social media site but for now i’m very satisfied with their app.

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