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In November of 2012, Instagram implemented their first ever brand partnership, with National Geographic. Regarding the decision, CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom states:
“National Geographic makes a ton of sense as an initial partner – they’re a fantastic company with such a rich visual history. Given that they’re so visually oriented, it’s a no-brainer that we’re going to be trying some interesting stuff out with them over the next few months.”

NatGeo seeks to build customer engagement, through contests or by crowd-sourcing photos for an upcoming story. Also, the company’s professional photographers and reporters could begin to take images “on-the-ground” creating a “live” and more interactive version of NatGeo.

With the waning prevalence of print media and the takeover of online versions, paid subscription circulation declined for the second year in 2010.

Paid Subscriptions Declined for the Second Consecutive Year

Being one of the top 25 magazines, National Geographic was among its cohorts with a decline in overall circulation between 2009 and 2010. Impressively, NatGeo is sixth among the most circulated magazines. As can be seen from this chart, the company faces a lesser decline than most.

NatGeo’s ability to stay relevant to the current generation is exemplified in their move to work with Instagram. By marketing to younger customers, the magazine has been able to bolster against the downfall of the print industry. The NatGeo Instagram photos can be viewed online, or add them on Instagram at natgeo.

Recently, NatGeo ran a contest through Instagram to draw attention to the 150th episode of the Dog Whisperer. Fans were asked to bake a cake to celebrate the anniversary. January 31st through February 10th, fans could submit Instagram pictures of their homemade cakes with the hashtag #natgeowild and #happy150. February 11th, during the airing of the 150th episode, the winner of the contest was posted on Instagram. The winning photo was also featured on the homepage of (Cesar is the name of the dog whisperer, for those of you out the pet loop), and Cesar telephoned the winner personally.

As of mid-2011, NatGeo was no longer the only media producer partnering with Instagram. News outlets including NPR, ABC News, MTV and NBC are using Instagram to build a more intimate relationship with their audience. However, the aforementioned outlets do not traditionally operate in print. Instead, “it provides a very different perspective to our followers than what they encounter on the Web or TV,” according to Joe Ruffalo (senior vice president at ABC News Digital).

With the rising popularity of Instagram, others might want to consider contests and crowd-sourced photos as a marketing tool to build awareness, exposure, and involvement.

As a consumer, have you ever participated in an Instagram contest?