For the last week, some brands have likely contemplated how they might be able to better utilize Instagram, which has roughly 30 million users, now that it's in the hands of Facebook. ClickZ reached out to a pair of early Instagram adopters, PepsiCo and Red Bull, to see what they've gleaned from using the app for marketing purposes in the last 12 to 15 months.
Since launching a South by Southwest Interactive campaign in 2011, Pepsi Max and Brisk marketers have tinkered with the platform.
"We use Instagram to humanize the brand and take people behind the curtains," Josh Karpf, PepsiCo's digital head, told ClickZ. "You can let them see things they wouldn't normally see, whether its photos of Drew Brees at the Super Bowl, Pepsi Max at the MLB Fan Cave, or [Nascar star] Jeff Gordon during a photo shoot. Clearly photo-sharing is something people are into. For brands, it's a lightweight way to connect with consumers."
Kevin Doohan, director of digital marketing for Red Bull, says his brand joined Instagram in January 2011, accruing 176,000 followers since then. Marketers wondering how to use Instagram should - as they likely do on other social networks - focus on content, he explains.
Doohan appears to know what he's talking about. Red Bull's Instagram audience dwarfs that of many other brands, including Pepsi Max (3,100 followers). He said digging in early has definitely helped his company gain traction on the photo-sharing app.
"Most of our strategy [or] success on Instagram is the result of early identification of the opportunity and then creative activation of the channel by our social media team," Doohan said.
Ad Agency: Look to Bands For Instagram Inspiration
Mike Tittel, executive creative director for ad agency Gyro, said Instagram - which has approximately doubled its user base in the last four months - has steadily become part of campaign conversations with clients. He commented on how the music industry was leading Instagram marketing.
"You're already seeing bands crowdsourcing Instagrams for their videos," Tittel said. "There's no reason that won't happen with brands. There are tons of opportunities to get consumers to interact with products for videos, scavenger hunts, contests. There is a lot of potential."
The Cincinnati-based creative director added, "I don't want to oversell it, though. It's a marketing channel albeit a newer one like Pinterest. And who knows? There could be another hot one next year - probably will be. Like any other medium marketers are looking at, the execution will only be as good as the idea."
This story was originally published on April 17, 2012, and comes in at No. 9 on our countdown of the 10 most popular ClickZ news stories of 2012. As ClickZ looks back over the past year, we're celebrating the best of 2012, as determined by our readers. Enjoy!
Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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