Category Archives: InstaMarketing

Instagram Contests: Benefits for the User Too!

Guess who won first prize in the Energizer Ultimate Instagram Photo Contest – yours truly. Thank you to all who helped vote! It really is possible to win an Instagram hosted contest and here is proof. And it didn’t even require any effort – just snapping a picture with Instagram. Has anybody else won any contests?


Vote Love!

Help our Instablogger Diana win the Energizer Instagram contest! Click the pic & then vote love 🙂 Thanks!!

Food, Fashion, and the Famous!

Let’s talk about some of the most popular Instagram account themes: the 3 F’s.

Let’s start with FOOD.

How many of you have posted pictures of something that you were either about to eat or something you were in the middle of eating? Ever heard the joke: “I order my food based on what will look good on Instagram”? (someeecards) There are many Instagram accounts that only post pictures of food. Many of these images are tagged #foodporn for the visual satisfaction that they invoke.

A Life Worth Eating: Have you ever viewed the “A Life Worth Eating” blog by Adam Goldberg? Goldberg loves to share his passion for food as he travels around the world. To add to his fame, he has created an Instagram account to match, providing pictures of delicious food from around the world. And of course, with the Instagram filter effects, all the food looks mouth-watering. Not only does this account show food, but it also shows the people and places from his travels – it is an explosion of culture! With over 56K followers, Goldberg isn’t doing so bad.

Food Drunk: There is also a number of chefs using Instagram to show off their creations, as well as their favorites they encounter across the world. One user, whose account is called “Food Drunk,” is not quite as popular as Adam Goldberg, but matches up in terms of uploading images that can make anybody hungry.

To see a list of the top 10 “Foodie” Accounts, click here.

Let’s move on to the FASHION.

For all you males out there, I apologize in advance for this segment, but remember I just wrote about food. For all the females, read away! If you love style, Instagram is a great place to learn about upcoming fashion trends and get exclusive looks at many upcoming designer items. We’ve briefly mentioned the existence of brands such as Burberry on Instagram, but the presence of fashion extends far into the abyss.

Take for example Shoe Dazzle, a popular online shoe store, claiming to offer a “behind the scenes” look at the world of Shoe Dazzle through their Instagram account. Shoe Dazzle is a company currently making use of the trend of offering a “personalized” shoe selection to their customers. Shoppers become clients as they make repeat purchases. The company has only posted 20 photos to their account yet have over 2000 followers. The account is full of color, style, and of course…SHOES!

Clothing designers and shoe stores are not the only ones using Instagram to expose their fashion. There are many accounts that exist to serve as “fashion assistants.” These accounts upload images of the latest trends: stylish accessories, celebrity-modeled hairstyles, and the newest beauty products. If you are in need of a little fashion advice, one of the best must-follow accounts is Glitter Guide.

Lastly, let’s talk about the FAMOUS.

If you haven’t heard, Justin Bieber is currently completing a seven-country promo tour. Just this week he flew to Norway and caused mass chaos as a result of hundreds of screaming fans. As a result of the combination of this tour, Justin’s social media interaction, and his overall fame, many are calling Justin Bieber a marketing genius. Known for his frequent tweeting, Justin is now dominating Instagram as the most followed celebrity – currently with 1,896,779 followers. Yes, that’s almost 2 million. His fame is outrageous. Some of his Instagram photos show random landscapes or people, but a majority of them show Justin himself. No wonder there are millions of teenage girls around the world that would do anything to see him, including taking a trip to the emergency room.

Other avid celebrity-instagrammers include Kim Kardashian, Snoop Dogg, and Nicki Minaj. Instagram is the perfect place for these celebrities to post images of the lavish lives that they lead. Along with the food we shouldn’t eat because we care about our health and the fashion we can’t afford, we can envy their private jets, the beach parties, and the champagne.

Along with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is becoming widely used as a social networking tool. Companies and individuals who run blogs are creating profiles on Instagram to continue their interaction with their followers. Brands are stirring up interest in their products through exclusive sneak-peeks. Celebrities are adding another social realm to their existence. The true question to measure your fame should read: “How many Instagram followers do you have?” For me, the number is currently 81 – nothing compared to Justin, but that won’t make me lose any sleep tonight. Find me at @deedee_lynn.

Win a Car with Instagram! European Instagram Contests

It’s great to see how US companies are using Instagram to market their products and services. We wondered if European companies were doing the same, and if so, if their campaigns on Instagram were different. Here are a few examples of how companies in Europe have used Instagram to build brand awareness and further develop customer relationships.

1. Ford Fiesta of Europe , headquartered in Germany

Ford Fiesta of Europe used Instagram in conjunction with Facebook for its #Fiestagram campaign. The rules were easy. Interested participants were asked to register on Facebook and submit a photo related to that week’s challenge, six in all, with the hashtag #Fiestagram. A photo was chosen for each week and given a prize, but the overall winner was awarded a brand-new Ford Fiesta! Sorry, the contest has ended and only EU residents could participate.

Wow, a photo a week for six weeks and you could have won a Ford Fiesta! Amazing.

2. AirFrance, headquartered in France

AirFrance has been using Instagram as a supplement news medium to update passengers on AirFrance news. They recently posted a sneak peek of the airline’s largest airport lounge to date at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. Sharing news isn’t the only way AirFrance has used Instagram to connect with customers. They launched #SpotAirFrance, which asked Instagram users to submit “a quirky picture representing Air France (plane, onboard, airport, magazine, advert…)” with the hashtag #SpotAirFrance and @airfranceuk in the caption and finally upload the pic to Twitter. One lucky winner would be granted two tickets to the AirFrance destination of their choice. Sorry again, contest is over.

Those are some pretty easy steps to take toward potentially winning your dream vacation.

3. nH Hotels, headquartered in Spain

The #wakeuppics campaign was initiated first locally in Spain by the nH Hotel Marketing team in 2011. Instagram users were asked to upload pics of things indicative of a fresh, positive attitude to wake up to,  with the hashtag #wakeuppics. Surprisingly, not every pic was of a sunrise. Many were of day to day life, but all were “Instagram artistic”. Within two weeks, the campaign received 600 photos. A temporary display of 30 photos was set up at the NH Palacio de Tepa in Madrid. Instagrammers were continuing to upload photos with #wakeuppics, so the company launched an International campaign. An exhibit will take place in Berlin. There is even a display website for those interested in viewing submissions. nH Hotels is always taking submissions of “wake up” worthy pics.

It appears the campaigns do not stray in terms of participation requirements compared with US firms. One thing about Instagram contests that amazes me is their simplicity. Although there are some restrictions such as geographical location, Instagram contests are too easy to not participate in.

Have you participated in an Instagram contest? Did you #win?

Apple iCloud and Tadaa – The Photo Sharing War Continues

Apple is to announce an overhaul of their iCloud service at their developers conference this June 11th. Many recent news articles have pointed out the similarities of the update to Instagram. The update will add sharing, commenting, and videos to the photo syncing part of their iCloud service – Photo Stream. Currently, the service only provides for uploading photos, but it seems that Apple is hoping to offer a social network. Apple is approaching the app from an exclusivity angle, only allowing comments on photos that were uploaded by certain Apple devices. Some point out the possibility that users who were turned off by the Facebook buy-out might switch to this service.

Apple Photo Syncing with iCloud
Update Coming Soon

Another application has recently entered the competitive space, Tadaa. The app comes from Hamburg, Germany and is available for free in the Apple store. Tadaa is an HD Pro cam, and people like it. The app has 4.5 stars out of 5, with an impressive 1538 ratings. Tadaa features a larger number of options and tabs than most, with a “New” and “Awesome” tab. The Awesome tab allows users to view “Trending”, “Featured”, and a “Special Lense” category that changes each week. The Featured section shows photos selected by Tadaa, providing a marketing incentive. However, the photos that rise to the top in the Trending section are voted there by the users, a feature Instagram is missing (sometimes photos make it to the “Popular” section on Instagram, because the user is well-liked, not the picture).  The next screen provides three more sections, “Challenge”, “24H Charts”, and “New Users”. From what I can gather, the challenges are things like “Photo a Day May” or “Me Myself and I.”  The 24H Charts show you photos from the last 24 hours and New Users gives new members the chance to get their photos out there, despite their lack of reputation.

New and Awesome Screen

The app also features a different type of photo feed. Tadaa shows the photos next to their comments in the feed, same if you repost someone’s photo. You can also choose to view them as full-size pics. The app conveniently allows users to zoom into the photo to get a better look. The app allows you to “like” comments, but not hashtag.

Sample of List View

Tadaa offers a chance for users to build a type of reputation through Tadaa dollars, an amount displayed at the top of their page, based on the number of comments and likes they have accumulated.
In terms of editing, the app offers an advanced blur feature, as well as 22 filters. Tadaa allows you to view the filters in real-time, so you can see what it will look like before you take the picture. You can also zoom in and out within camera in the app, a feature I often wish I had on Instagram. In addition, you can take a picture with the application, and you do not need to post it. I often worry if the picture I take saves in my phone gallery if I decide not to upload it on Instagram.
Namely, Tadaa offers a high quality photo, via their HD system. Apple offers an exclusive system with the device structure already built in. With these growing competitors, will the Instagram bubble burst?


Love Instagram and want to enter a #contest? Here are some options…

As we know, many brands and companies are utilizing Instagram to run contests that increase customer engagement and user awareness. These companies hope to motivate users to become involved with their brands, eventually leading to active followers and consumers. Many of the contest rules require users to become followers of the brand or company. Essentially, they have created another marketing channel that requires a lot less effort and capital than traditional marketing strategies. If you haven’t taken witness to these efforts, here are a few contests currently running:

1). Tilly’s:

This popular California lifestyle clothing company is currently running the “Instapick of the Month Contest.” To enter, follow @tillys and upload a photo that “represents who you are.” They are looking for creative photos with the hashtag #Tillysinstapick. Do you love free stuff? Every month Tilly’s will pick their favorite photo and send you a “surprise box of goodies.” As far as I can tell, they are not publicizing an end date for this contest, so you’ve got plenty of chances to win!


2). Free People:

If you love fashion, this is a contest for you. Clothing brand Free People is running a contest every Friday that asks users to upload a picture of themselves wearing the Free People brand. Each Friday, a winner will beselected among the photos hashtagged #fpcloset. The prize? No money or free merchandise involved – simply recognition. Free People will share your photo from their Instagram account. A perfect contest for Instagram users looking to gain “likes” and followers. This contest has only been running for two weeks and they also don’t mention an end date – get ready to upload on Friday!

3). Energizer:

The Energizer Instagram photo contest makes me think the company is taking advantage of the recent merge between Instagram and Facebook. For this contest,photos are not entered directly through the Instagram app. Instead, users must log into Facebook and like this page.  Then they must submit their Instagram picture to the same page. Energizer is looking for the “ultimate Instagram photo.” At that point, the public gets to vote for the best submission starting on June 4th. The grand prize is: $2000 cash, a Nikon Coolpix S6300, and Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries. What an incentive! I’ve already entered.

4). National Geographic:

We know that NatGeo works closely with Instagram, consistently sharing their photos through @NatGeoChannel. Their team recently ran the Untamed Americas project, where they snapped pictures of mountains, deserts, coasts, and forests. Now they are asking users to upload photos that show what “Untamed Americas” means to them. All you need to do is follow @natgeochannels and hashtag your uploaded photo with #UntamedAmericas from now until June 18. At that point, three judges will select the best photo that will be featured on their website. In addition, the winner will receive an assortment of awesome prizes, including a Nikon D3100, a subscription to the National Geographic magazine, and a signed print by famous landscape photographer Cole Rise.

5). Spa Week and Insta-Mom:

There are just a few more days for this contest. Until May 31st, upload your Instagram photo that depicts what “mom” means to you. Follow @spaweek and hashtag your photo #spaweekmom. Spa Week is looking for creative and inspiring photos. The grand prize is a $300 Spa and Wellness gift card, and there are prizes for first and second place following the grand prize winner as well. And the good part is, you can enter as many photos as you’d like! If you’d love a day at the spa, get instagramming!


These contests are simple ways to win prizes and/or bragging rights. If you love Instagram and taking photos, entry is simple. Already entered these contests or have others you’ve found? Let us know!

“Hot Doughnuts Now” Sign…Old Idea, New Applications

For our recent mashup presention, we took a closer look at a few apps that are experiencing significant growth. I’d like to further discuss the pairing of Foursquare and Instagram and how marketers can use the two to their brands advantage.

Foursquare is a location-based app, that “gamifies” frequency of visitation of locations (e.g. restaurants, retail stores). Top visitors are rewarded with special titles such as Mayor of XYZ. Additionally, users are rewarded for frequenting a location with special deals.

We’ve talked a lot about what Instagram is. So now, what can we do to exploit each of their competitive advantages?

Foursquare features deals based on a user’s current location. I noticed these deals are usually just text or a stock photo. Wouldn’t it be great if the photo were taken with Instagram within minutes of you passing a location? Remember the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign that Krispy Kreme used to draw us to their hot, fresh mouth-watering treats? Instagram and Foursquare can pull off the same type of promotion. For example, if I worked at a bar and just made an apple martini, I would take a picture and post in on Foursquare with a special 2 for 1 offer that is good for the next two hours. At that point, I would serve the drink to the customer. Those just checking-in to the bar would then see the special, the great picture of the drink, and naturally order one too. Yes, you can post a pic and deal to Twitter or Facebook, but the people that really care are the ones at your doorstep. These people are already looking for your product, they understandably want a deal, and the value of these applications together is tremendous.

You can already post pics to Foursquare. True, but the posting has typically been from the consumer perspective. What about the business side? Shouldn’t quick-response marketing be mainstream? Instagram is the perfect photo sharing app for this mashup because it doesn’t require tons of energy to edit, no special lighting, and only a smartphone as equipment. Expert quality photos are at the push of a button.

Would this be too much trouble for a business? Do you think it would have the return commensurate with the investment?

University of Instagram

We now know that Instagram can be used as a powerful tool for brands to increase user awareness and exposure. With over 40 million users, Instagram is the ideal platform for sharing brand updates through the establishment of a loyal network of followers. We’ve mentioned that brands such as Brisk and Starbucks are making use of this power. They are competing in the space with others such as Burberry, Red Bull, and Playboy. Many of these brands symbolize high-end fashion and/or well-established retailers. Their purpose for creating a presence on Instagram is to engage their audiences and interact with their communities, in the hopes to ultimately lead to increased brand use and purchases. But we can look at this concept in a light that is free of supermodels and beverages consumed for popularity.

In the same way that brands aim to increase exposure, universities strive to achieve the same effects. For example, whether attempting to move up in the national rankings or increase the fan base of their top-ranked football team, universities should be utilizing Instagram as brands do. There are a few different strategies for achieving success through this application. First, Instagram is all about photos, so universities should be using the app to post photos of its campus, its students, and its achievements. Instagram offers the best photographing capabilities as you can easily create a beautiful photo and share it across social networks – no need to access each network individually. Through the use of Instagram’s filters, universities can make their oldest classroom look like a place that would evoke creativity and imagination. By creating a photo stream on Instagram, university fans can become followers and flock to a place of interest – students, prospective students, instructors, parents, alumni, fans, etc. And, because not a lot of universities are making use of this power, it enables the smart ones to stay connected in a world that is constantly being altered through technology.

Let’s take a look at some universities currently utilizing Instagram:

1. Stanford University: The official Instagram of Stanford is run by digital media interns – no wonder they are ahead of the game. Currently with close to 2,000 followers, Stanford’s Instagram seems shameful when compared to Burberry’s over 300,000 followers, but it ranks high in the university realm. Their photostream consists mainly of shots taken around campus of buildings and trees, some documentation of campus events, and a sporting event captured here and there. Taking a look at users’ comments, it is clear many followers are devout Stanford students and alumni, with a few Stanford hopefuls thrown into the mix.

2. Ranking second in number of followers is Marquette University, located in Wisconsin. With only 35 photos uploaded so far, their feed includes more photos of the university logo and of students wearing MU gear. They often send their Instagram photos to Facebook and recently began an RSS feed to get users to tag #marquette or #wearemarquette on their uploaded photos. So far, the number of tagged photos is 870 and 74 respectively. Most of them picture individuals in Marquette t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Taking a look at these users, it is clear that colleges and universities have not taken advantage of Instagram’s full potential. Our very own UCR is lacking a presence altogether, while some schools such as UCLA focus solely on the athletics of their university. And of course, as with all things, there are those accounts such as Swag University and Puppy University that fail to uphold the standards of the university at all.

Printstagram: A New Business Venture

Organizations such as Brisk, photo-enhancing applications, and Facebook are not the only ones benefitting from the booming popularity of Instagram. A company called Printstagram has taken on a new business venture. If simply viewing your snapshots through the mobile application isn’t satisfying for you, Printstagram has the solution: they will print your Instagram pictures to create long-lasting memories. It is all about making your photographs physical. Their claim as to the purpose of their business: “Instagram just got bought by Facebook. Who knows what’s in store for the future…” Maybe they know something that we don’t, but it seems they are implying your cloud-stored photos might disappear as a result of the recent acquisition. But then again, scaring Instagram users to believe this is probably part of their marketing plan.

Printstagram offers a variety of different products as far as Instagram photo prints. All you have to do is sign in to your Instagram account and the site will download all of your photos – like many of the other applications we know, you just need to allow Instagram to share your information with the website. Once you have signed in you can select which photos you want printed. Product possibilities include: the tinybook (24 of your photos bound together in a, well, tinybook), the minibook (photos printed back to back and bound with a coil), the memory box (a box full of mini-prints of all the photos you’ve ever taken), mini stickers (252 per order), tshirts, and the instagrid poster (featuring anywhere between 50-400 pictures in full poster form). If you are insta-obssessed, Printstagram will help you get the most out of your Instagram works of art.

Printstagram not only allows users to reminisce with a sense of nostalgia by printing their photos and even giving them as gifts, but it provides an opportunity for businesses to strengthen their brands. It enables organizations to boost their brand through a little creativity. Avid Instagram brands such as Nestle and Starbucks can utilize Printstagram to run marketing campaigns that extend beyond the online atmosphere. This could include printing their Instagram photos and passing them out at conferences or even printing brand logos and/or coupons on the back of prints. These companies could even print t-shirts and place their company logo on the back, creating a community of users serving as walking advertisements. For those brands that utilize Instagram to run contests, Printstagram can be used to recognize contest winners, marketing and enabling user-submitted images to reach a wider audience. What other ways can you envision brands utilizing Prinstagram to increase brand engagement and awareness?

Viddy – Insta….Video?

The iPhone app of the week, Viddy, is gaining popularity among creators and users of mobile media. Available for iPhone currently, and possibly other platforms later, the application is much like Instagram, but with videos.

Viddy Effects Screen

According to the Viddy website, “Viddy is a simple way for anyone to capture, produce, and share beautiful videos with the world. Record a moment of your life, give it that cinematic look with our production packs, and share it with those who matter most.” The application allows users to take a video, trim the video, and add effects. The videos can then be uploaded to Viddy’s online site, or to Facebook and Viddy has received media coverage this week due to a recent high-profile joiner, Mark Zuckerberg. Though he only has one video as of Monday, he has thousands of followers. The reasons he states for joining are reminiscent of his response when he joined Pinterest. Zuckerberg has a presence on many social media sites, such as Google+ and Twitter. However, his membership and use does speak volumes for the rising interest in the app, and has served to build buzz around Viddy.

As of Monday, the app had 16 million users, adding 500,000 news users a day. On Viddy’s first year anniversary, April 11th, they had just passed 4 million users. The app is also partnering with Facebook, and integrated their mobile video service into FB’s new Timeline. Though many app developers have been utilizing the Facebook mobile platform and their Timeline switchover, Viddy stands out. After launching their Timeline app in February, Viddy went from 60,000 active users to over 1.7 million. In addition, there have been more than 15 million interactions with Viddy content on Facebook since Viddy launched its Timeline app.

Viddy vs. Instagram

Viddy has consistently been called the Instagram of videos, but why? The picture on the left shows a direct comparison between the home screens of both apps. The layouts of both screens are almost identical, particularly the buttons along the bottom. The concept is the same as Instagram, but with videos (perhaps upping the ante on self-expression and creativity?).

In addition, the rising popularity of Viddy offers similar marketing incentives as those provided through Instagram. Viddy can be used for interaction, to allow users to make commercials, to hold contests, etc. In the world of social media and Internet marketing, Viddy is something to keep your eye on.

Have you ever heard of Viddy?