Instagram Brings a New Focus to Place Marketing

January 23, 2012

We all know the old saying, “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” so if Twitter’s 140 characters feels too restricting, or you’re looking for a creative and cutting-edge tactic to market your place or brand, meet the popular iPhone app, Instagram. Its visual nature makes it especially effective for place marketing.

Instagram is a free photo sharing app that allows users to snap a photo with their iPhone, choose a filter to transform the look and feel, and send to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. The app recently hit 14 million users and was named the top app of 2011 by Apple. While you might have seen your friends using it, many organizations are capitalizing on the app’s capabilities as well (check out 10 Ways to Make Instagram Profitable).

One easy way to use Instagram as part of a marketing campaign is to build a contest by incorporating #hashtags. Pick a hashtag for your brand or campaign and encourage participants to add it to their photos. Similar to Twitter, each hashtag has its own page where all photos with the same hashtag are displayed. In addition, marketers can incorporate the contest results on their websites by using the Instagram API.

GE’s Instagram contest is a great example of one done particularly well. GE encouraged participants to submit Instagram photos to win a trip to the UK to shoot photos at a world-class GE Aviation Facility.

While we haven’t seen any cities using Instagram to promote themselves yet, NH Hotels created the hashtag #wakeuppic to encourage users to submit great morning views shot from their hotel. In addition, low-cost European airline bmibaby is creating crowd-sourced destination guides with the help of Instagrammers. The company has already worked with Instagram groups in various countries to hold contests and collect the best images of Italy, Germany, Holland and Switzerland.

When it comes to place marketing, Instagram’s blog, InstaCity, demonstrates how this powerful app can showcase a fresh and unique perspective of a city. Each blog posting not only features spectacular photos, but also a small profile on the person who took them and descriptive photo captions detailing the atmosphere at the time the photo was taken. Between the photos and the captions, each city’s personality really shines through.

The Instagram team shared with us that most of their blog readers come from Twitter and Facebook, where they post links to their blog articles each time one is published. In addition, some of the readers are followers on Tumblr.

Interested in getting your city featured on Instacity? InstaCity typically chooses cities based on how active their Meetup groups are. The creators of the blog also receive e-mails from organizers in different cities, and will consider those when deciding which city to feature next.

So, what are you waiting for? E-mail the blog today to see if your region can be featured at one point. Not only will it give you the chance to engage your local community, but it will also offer you an opportunity to showcase your city through another lens.


Rachel Deloffre

Written by Rachel Deloffre

Rachel Deloffre is an Account Director at DCI. Since joining the company in 2011, she has carried out strategic media relations and marketing campaigns for clients ranging from the country of Colombia, to the city of Calgary, Alberta, to the Port of Long Beach. She has also assisted in executing a talent attraction campaign for the Research Triangle region of North Carolina.

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  • Troy Thompson says:

    Hey Rachel,

    Great post, love the information about Instagram…certainly a developing opportunity for tourism destinations. Especially considering the benefits of delivering the tourism message via photography.

    FYI, check out the work from LA INC. with there Instagram / Photowalk campaign:

    Good stuff.

    – Troy

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