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How Instagram is fueling Web design

March 18, 2013


Instagram is proving to be a shining star for brands to tie together mobile and social marketing efforts. Companies such as Taco Bell, Urban Outfitters and Chobani are tapping into this opportunity to make Instagram content prominent on their Web sites.

According to experts, the key to leveraging Instagram into a Web site is to incorporate user-generated content that comes from a brand’s most loyal fans. As marketers increasingly think about developing online content for mobile-first, mobile-only social sites such as Instagram play a powerful role for marketers.

“Best-in-class brands are tapping Instagram to fuel content for their other social, digital and even traditional channels,” said Amanda Williams, senior manager of social strategy at Resource, Columbus, OH.

“The touch point has done the same thing for brands visually enhancing products and brand experiences, but brands who are most successfully using Instagram aren't limiting themselves to publishing brand created content within the app – they are sourcing user-generated content that showcases their brand and leveraging it beyond social by incorporating this content into digital and traditional channels,” she said.

“These platforms that are native to mobile force brands to create more genuine, real-time content that we've seen can be much more relevant to users.”

Lead by example
Mobile is quickly becoming the go-to platform for consumers to upload and share photo content, which gives marketers the opportunity to connect with consumers in deeper ways.

However, Instagram was founded as a platform for consumers to view photos from their friends and family members. It was not until Instagram amassed a large group of users that marketers began to catch on.

Therefore, it is important for marketers to look at the user behavior on Instagram to make themselves a natural place to talk to consumers.

From there, brands can build on the emotions and content that consumers are already sharing and incorporate it into their Web sites and digital marketing efforts.

Mobile and social continue to grow in scale. However, Web is still king in reaching the most users digitally.

Given the engagement that social media can trigger, smart brands should be looking at how to weave their Instagram content directly into their Web sites.

One of the big takeaways that brands need to understand with Instagram is that simply pushing products will not work.

Take Urban Outfitters' approach, for example.

The brand has a program called #UOonyou which encourages consumers to upload photos on Instagram and Twitter for a chance to be featured on the company’s Web site.

Once a photo is posted on the site, consumers can roll their mouse over each image to see how many people have liked the picture on Instagram.

By placing Instagram content directly on the Web, Urban Outfitters is able to marry its mobile and Web efforts.

Visual storytelling
Consumers are inclined to engage with photos shared via Instagram more than a product photo because consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than advertisers.

“With Instagram, brands have the opportunity to showcase more than their product, but share the lifestyle around their brand,” said Brian Zuercher, CEO of Venueseen, Dublin, OH.

“Look at a brand like Patagonia, for example,” he said. “By showcasing the lifestyles of their customers and environments in which their products are used versus just demonstrating the products themselves, they can paint a much clearer picture of their brand.”

Brands can also pull mobile photos into their Web sites to build up a hype around an event.

Take The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for instance.

Earlier this year, the company rolled out a campaign that encouraged Instagram users to snap pictures with the hashtag #Indy500orbust to get consumers excited for the upcoming Indianapolis 500 race in May (see story).

The Instagram content

The goal behind the campaign is to visually show the preparation that goes into the race.

“With 90 million monthly active users and 40 million photos posted per day, brands know that more consumers are spending time taking and sharing great, original pictures on Instagram,” Mr. Zuercher said.

“Plus, Instagram provides a platform for brand marketers to incentivize content and generate high percentages of original submissions when implementing campaigns,” he said.

Social glue

Mobile and social complement each other and are increasingly being seen as top priorities in brands’ digital strategies.

Therefore, brands that combine the two into their Web efforts can extend the reach of their Instagram content.

To help promote its new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos tacos, for example, Taco Bell turned to Instagram and Twitter to encourage consumers to share their experience with the product.

Taco Bell pulls Instagram content into its Web site

Now, a call-to-action is plastered on Taco Bell’s Web site that shows the content that users shared on Twitter and Instagram.

“As we've seen with Pinterest, the true power of Instagram is how it connects to other social networks, especially Facebook now that Twitter doesn't present Instagram photos in-stream,” said Marko Z. Muellner, vice president of marketing at Shoplgniter, Portland, OR.

“I've read that 98 percent of brand Instagram photos are shared to Facebook where they tend to generate a good bit of 'Likes,' shares and comments, driving viral reach deeper into fan communities,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York