Instagram is one of the leading platforms for branded content, pushing the boundaries of distributing two dimensional photos and short video clips. The app demonstrates its versatility by enabling interconnectivity between various photo and video editing applications, as well as across social media networks.

Instagram encourages visual content to go viral by pushing the boundaries of standard photo sharing capability and encouraging brands and users to share videos, multi-photo posts and providing relatively sophisticated visual editing tools. And with increasing formats of ads across the platform, Instagram has opened the floodgates to marketers everywhere to tell their story in a strategically targeted and visual way.

Arts Marketing

While the network has experimented with different ad formats over the past few years, in September it introduced sponsored images and videos across the app in 30 countries. No surprise, these are remarkably similar in format to ads on sister platform Facebook, with Video and Carousel sponsored content set to autoplay as users scroll through their feed. Sponsored videos on Instagram can be double the normal user upload length at 30 seconds. This increased capacity to engage users with visually stimulating content means brands have a new opportunity to get their message in front of relevant consumers and make connections.

One of the huge benefits to Instagram advertising is the instantaneous way Instagram can collect user data from other social networks. By being linked to Twitter and Facebook, users see content that is in direct correlation to the products, services and brands which they’ve actively liked, searched and discussed, meaning sponsored content expands on users’ online experiences. Bearing this in mind, Instagram is no longer the platform to visit solely for self-indulgent selfies and fluffy puppies (although these still exist) users are now integrated pawns of the branded content game.

This integration is extraordinarily valuable allowing brands to push the same emotional buttons that was once only the domain of user to user relationships. It goes without saying that Instagram is an effective mobile app perpetuating impulsive likes, shares and tags from users to branded content. It truly is visual word-of-mouth.

Instagram is not only a platform to connect with people; it’s a platform which expands perspective. Brands gain a first-hand understanding of the day-in-the-life experiences of their consumers. A recent example was a contest run by North American e-commerce glasses brand Warby Parker. During expansion throughout the US, the company decided to hold a launch party where they aimed to thank their customers and employees, and so they created an Instagram marketing campaign which doubled as the event invitations and a scavenger hunt. Users who follow Warby Parker on Instagram, who were able to identify the name and location of the photos and videos the brand posted throughout the day/week, were entered for a chance to win an exclusive invitation and Warby Parker merchandise. The idea of ‘seeing life through a frame’ held an entirely new meaning, doubling as a pun for the glasses and the photos posted. The marketing campaign generated a vast amount of popularity and also demonstrated how effective Instagram can be at curating subcultures and connecting communities.

Another successful demonstration of Instagram's power was by leading international sports brand Puma. Having noticed their Instagram following was quite low in comparison to their peers, the brand reached out to Instagram users who perpetuated a large following and aligned with their key brand values. Puma then partnered with existing Instagram accounts to generate user-generated content, which not only made their branded content seem organic, but also helped bring brand marketing 360 degrees by integrating content from fitness blogs, Facebook Posts, etc.

Instagram is a place where users actively seek out visual content. Taking this into consideration from a marketing perspective, it’s easy to understand how brands that hold little similarities to one another are capable of using the same tool in very different ways to fulfil their marketing needs and further their online presence. So, get creative and tell your story!