The world’s favorite mobile, photo filtering tool, Instagram, announced earlier this week the ability for users to tag friends and brands in their Instagram photos.
Previously, although there was a way to @mention users in posts, there was no way to keep track of or resurface all of those photos. If someone mentioned you in a post, you received a notification to view the photo. However, there was no way to keep track of the photos you were mentioned in; to see those photos, you would have to go to the source and track down the original photo.
In addition to being able to tag users in posts, there is a new section on Instagram profiles called ‘Photos of Me’. This new piece of real estate contains all tagged photos, which makes re-viewing and re-sharing photos possible.
What’s in it for brands?
The new tagging feature not only allows users to tag friends but also brands in their photos. This creates interesting new opportunities for brands on the platform, which previously provided few means for engagement with customers and advocates.
Before photo tagging, brands were pushing out photos of products and encouraging fans to like and comment on the photo. This was the primary means of engagement. Photos would go out, and likes and comments would come in. Similar to Facebook in a way however, the brand had less opportunity to respond and converse with their customers making relationship building and development more difficult on this social network compared to others.
The new capability for users to tag brands in photos means that brands will begin receiving lots of content in the form of photos. Mike Isaac at All Things D stated that ‘Photos of Me’ “essentially gives a brand the ability to crowdsource photos of its products”. Instagram will be providing brands with a free stream of photos coming directly from their biggest fans and advocates.
Fans will presumably tag brands in photos, which showcase themselves actually using the brand’s products. This will provide brands with greater insight in to who is using their products and how they are using them, which is incredibly valuable. Plus, these fan photos will be more trusted than brands photos because they would coming from real people – and people trust other people over brands. Brands should take advantage of this valuable advocate content and re-share it out on their owned channels – just like Intel did with this photo, which was originally posted by one of their advocates during a word-of-mouth campaign that they were running with SocialChorus.
While we’re optimistic about the new developments, the platform still offers significantly less opportunity for engagement in contrast to other social networks. There are still improvements to be made to allow for greater brand-advocate interaction.
The absence of links, for example is one specific shortcoming on that platform that inhibits further user engagement. The ability to include a hyperlink for more information would be a significant enhancement, improving experience for both users and brands alike. Users, instead of simply liking the photo, would be able not only find but also have the ability to purchase the products in brand, blogger, and friends’ photos. For the brand, links would allow companies to track and drive traffic back to their sites and product pages, providing greater insight into how the social network is impacting sales.
SocialChorus has run over 200 social word-of-mouth programs – and Instagram has proved to be a significant driver of engagement. The platform has driven lots of engagement for brands especially in campaigns that involve high-usage of tablet and mobile devices (like this Intel campaign) as well as at events where advocates are serving as brand ambassadors (like this Fruttare advocate photo and Toyota advocate photo – both of which were taken at Coachella).
The opportunities on the Instagram platform are promising for brands and SocialChorus is looking forward to seeing what future developments come out of the social network. We’re also interested to see how brands will continue to optimize the channel to increase engagement and build relationships with brand advocates and customers.