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.

Facebook Camera Vs. Instagram

Well, I have to be honest, I was surprised to see the Facebook Camera application released when looking through camera applications on the iPhone. This is an interesting strategic move for Facebook considering that they just sunk 1 billion into Instagram and are now releasing an application camera that looks to be in direct competition. The timing seems a little backward to me as stated earlier in this blog, why not just compete against Instagram, rather than buy it out and then compete against it. But either way, let’s look at some of the features of Facebook camera and then compare it with Instagram.

First off, check out the application purchasing screen. This has only been out since 5/25 and already has over 800 reviews at almost a full five stars. It looks like the main marketing behind this product is that it is faster. This was a main complaint about uploading a photo to Facebook previously and one that Instagram seemed to address.

Once the application is downloaded it automatically recognized me as Blake Coffin, due to the fact that I already have the Facebook application on my phone and I could just click “Use as Blake Coffin” and I never needed to sign in. The GPS location was turned on and I was instantly connected with every single one of my over 700 facebook friends. The home page loaded quickly with all of my friend’s recent photos and I was able to start rolling.

Taking a picture was very easy, but again, very closely resembled Instagram’s logic and controls. The camera loaded up more quickly than my Iphone camera, but probably not quite as quickly as the Instagram camera. Once the picture is taken, multiple photo filters are available that help to make the picture look professional, including the black and white one that I have chose here:

Although, one cool difference was the ease of cropping the photo from left and right. Not just the square format that Instagram uses. Although when posted to the wall it maintained its original formatting and did not show the crop until the picture was clicked on. The multiple effects were browsed through and I ended up choosing a black and white one for the final product. Beautiful huh?

Ultimately, the application works similarly to the Instagram application but it is currently missing the ability to view your friends photos in a gallery type environment as it only shows the recent status update photos. My guess is that this type of feature will be included in an update but the release was probably rushed due to the recent Facebook IPO and the stock price falling dramatically. It seems to fit with Facebook’s philosophy that it is better done quicker, than done right later.

Upon some additional research the critics are saying that Facebook was working on this application long before discussions to buy Instagram. So again, with it being so similar to Instagram, why spend the billion? Any feedback or ideas would be great to see on here, let   us know what you think?

International Instagram: Asia Updates

Not only is instagram widely gaining popularity in the US. It has also taken off around the world. Specifically, some recent moves that instagram has made have caught the attention of many. Instagrams new version 2.2, which boosts a higher speed camera, also has instagrated(get it?) with two of Asia’s social websites. Now when photos are uploaded, it can easily be sent to Japan’s Mixi and China’s Sina Weibo. For more information on this integration check out this article form The Next Web here. As you can see from this photo:

This is just as seamless as the Twitter and Facebook integration. With these changes and additions in the Asian market it seems that we may see an Instagram office based out of Asia sooner rather than later. Although at this time a user would only see and be able to fully integrate with these other sites if their languages and region are correctly formatted. So if a user was to attempt to upload in the US they most likely would not be successful with the upload to the other social sites.

In addition to these integrations with the social web sites there are additional explorations of instagram coming out of Asia. Upon some searching of the web we were able to locate a website devoted entirely to asian photos. They have searched the instagram database to provide all photos hashtagged with #asian. Check it out here. This website label is shown below.

Statigram allows for many different categories to be viewed, but this category really allows for all asian cultural items to be displayed. One can view pictures of asian cuisine, asian vehicles, asian artists, teens, adults, children and buildings that are all related to Asia and its culture/people. It is wonderful to see the popularity and excitement around sites like this that give a global presence to Instagram and help to categorize all of the amazing photos.

Even companies are using Instagram to market to their Asia customers. One example of this is the Billabong Asia promotions. Billabong is a boardshort apparel leader and is wanting to get more international recognition. They have a promotion on Facebook that will give a winner a new wardrobe worth $2000 once they reach 200,000 fans on Facebook’s Billabong Asia. A photo is below that is taken and promoted through instagram for the contest, thus successfully integrating the expansion movement through both facebook and instagram.


What will be the next innovative idea to further Instagram’s international growth and popularity, especially in Asia?

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!

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Socialmatic – InstaCamera

Instagram Socialmatic Camera

As the Instagram hype continues, businesses looking to cash out on the phenomenon proliferate. A new player has come up with a very different type of Instagram concept – the Socialmatic camera.
This camera is purely conceptual at this point, but the creator, ADR Studios, is working to gain support. De Rosa, ADR Studio’s Italian Designer company, is currently requesting contributions toward the creation of the camera. Though I am not sure how many people have made contributions, according to the website, the average contribution is an impressive $70. It is possible we could see this camera on the market in the near future.

The camera will look like the Instagram logo, and feature a large flat screen for ease of use. The Socialmatic would have two lenses, one for taking pictures, and the other for scanning the QR Codes that are included on each individual photograph. The camera would offer 16GB of internal storage, allowing users to store the photos directly on the device. In addition, the camera would feature WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, allowing users to post and view media. Perhaps most important, the camera would function like a polaroid camera, boasting four color cartridges and special Instagram photo paper. This photo paper would have a strip of post-it like glue on the back. In addition, each photo would feature a QR Code, allowing other users to scan the QR code and find the photo-taker online.
Users can now take a photo, post online and share with followers, and print the photo – anywhere, anytime.

Though the camera is just a concept, it will be interesting to see if Instagram would choose to sell the rights/license to use the Instagram logo. Could this be a possible revenue stream for Instagram – even if they were simply collecting small royalties?

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