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?
As buzz around Instagram and social sharing networks continues to build, competitors become increasingly relevant. Here we’ll take a look at the competitors in an in-depth extension of an earlier post.
Hipster –Camera and filters like Instagram, but rectangular. To these, users can add locations and comments, creating postcards. The app will also add the location automatically through GPS. Some reviews mention issues with glitches when certain filters are chosen. The concept of the application is very cool, and I personally enjoy using it. I haven’t had any issues yet, but hopefully the app can get the issues worked out.
- As of Jan 19th, 2012 the app had 100,000 users (1).
- From GooglePlay site: Rated 3.7/5 (203 ratings).
- 10,000-50,000 downloads from the Android market in the last 30 days.
Picplz – an app much like Instagram, with camera filters and a built in social network. The meme creator function is a nice feature. Many people love the app, but have been experiencing problems with updates.
- 40,000 Monthly Active Users through Facebook (2)
- From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.0/5 (8,346 ratings)
- 1M-5M installs from the Android market in the last 30 days
EyeEm – Groups photos based on categories – locations, what you are doing, a certain type of food, etc. – much like hashtags. This idea makes it easier to find new friends or followers. Many reviewers are requesting Google + integration, which could say something about user demographics. Some comments about glitches, but overall the app seems to perform smoothly.
- 20,000 MAU through Facebook (3)
- From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.0/5 (388 ratings)
- 10,000-50,000 downloads from Android market in the last 30 days.
PicYou – an Instagram-like app that boasts itself as exclusively for the iPhone. However, the reviews displayed on the App store site are negative. Someone actually recommends Instagram over the app, and another calls the app “really lame.” With 100,00 monthly active users through Facebook vs. 17 million on Instagram, I believe much of this negative sentiment comes from the fact that the social network is so much smaller than Instagram’s.
Overall, it seems that PicYou doesn’t really offer any additional services compared to Instagram.
Path – a “smart journal that lets you share your life with the ones you love.” (5)The app is designed for use between close friends, and it limits the number of friends to 150. However, you can still upload photos through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. An interesting feature – users can respond to moments with one of five emotions: smile, frown, gasp, laugh and love. The reviews for the app are extremely positive, with a larger fan base than most that is actively growing. The application offers an interface that is described as “beautiful” and “snazzy and sleek” in most recent reviews.
- 570,000 Monthly Active Users through Facebook alone (6)
- From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.2/5 (11,467 ratings)
- 500,000-1M installs from Android market in the last 30 days
To put it all in perspective, here is a quick summary on Instagram. The comments in the Apple store state that the app is “better than Facebook” and “this is the best app ever I LOVE THIS APP.” The reviews on GooglePlay are just as good. I suppose there is something to be said for a streamlined experience and a massive social network.
- 17 million Monthly Active Users through Facebook alone, and 40 million overall (App data, reference old post)
- From GooglePlay site, Rated 4.6/5 (601,428 ratings)
- 10M-50M Android installs in the last 30 days
- From the Apple store site, Rated 5/5 (537,624 ratings)
Have you ever used these competitor apps?
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?
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.
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 Cesarsway.com (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?