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Instagram for Brands – Authentic Community Engagement

By Pasquale Festa on Wed, May 09, 2012 @ 08:00 AM |

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This week, Melissa Pitts from the media company gyro wrote an interesting blog post over at Forbes discussing ways in which Facebook’s purchase of Instagram will have a positive impact on brands and their approaches to advertising in the realm of social media. In particular, Melissa sees four key reasons the recent acquisition is good for brands: it’s simple to use, it allows for visual storytelling, it’s non-intrusive, and it’s made for mobile. I really can’t argue with her analysis and completely agree that social media applications like Instragram and Pinterest can really do a lot for a brand – there is so much more there in terms of quality content as compared to a simple status update.

In addition to Melissa’s points, there is another positive impact this full-on integration of Instagram and Facebook will have – it allows behemoth brands (like Pepsi and Red Bull) that may often be seen as distant and impersonal by consumers to finally open up dialogs with and amongst their communities. Some brands have already taken advantage of the community building advantages Twitter has opened up, hiring full-time tweeters to solicit feedback from customers, joke around with them, and offer customer service. As Melissa noted, Red Bull runs a “daily awesome” image campaign via Instagram and Twitter that asks followers to hashtag their images to be included in an aggregate feed. This manner of advertising does a number of things for a brand we haven’t seen before: it allows a brand to better know the culture of their customers through direct contact, opens a forum for customers to interact with each other, and provides consumers with award and recognition for taking part in the advertising and purchasing process. When you provide your customers with this type of experience, you’re really offering them a much more authentic interaction with your brand; they’re actually a part of the conversation and aren’t being forced to passively accept your message. This new opportunity is a blessing for brands because, as James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II write in the opening of Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want:

So just as the rise of services helped to establish quality as a field worthy of deliberate management attention, the rise of experiences calls for a new arena of management expertise. Organizations today must learn to understand, manage, and excel at rendering authenticity…. To be blunt: your business offerings must get real. When consumers want what’s real, the management of the customer perception of authenticity becomes the primary new source of competitive advantage – the new business imperative.

social media engagement