Instagram Gets Into the Ad Game

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Nov 20

As a digital native, Instagramsocial media plays a huge role in my everyday life. Back in 2004, when I started college, Facebook was just getting popular with college students. Getting that invite to join Facebook ignited my social media obsession. Back in those days, Facebook was a way to find out about people you didn't know and connect with others that you do know. You were limited to just one picture, the profile picture. Since then, things have certainly changed.

The Rise of Instagram

Today, we can post hundreds, even thousands of photos on our Facebook page. This leads me to my next topic, the rise of Instagram. "Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr." (via Wikipedia) Clearly, posting normal photos from your camera phone is no longer enough. Instagram allows you to enhance your photos and videos with filters prior to sharing with your networks.  Instagram target is mobile social sharing and also lets you post and follow your friend's posts using the app. The younger generation has taken a strong liking to Instagram. Facebook recognized the potential and acquired Instagram in April 2012 for a reported amount of $1 billion in cash and stocks. 

Uses of Instagram

Currently, there are more than 150 million monthly active users sharing 16 billion photos (Source: Instagram Press Center). People use Instagram because it allows them not only to post and follow their friend's photos, but also to follow celebrities and companies they admire.  You can follow your favorite celebrities to see photos of them in their daily lives. Instagram has actually become a media source. Magazines often use images that celebrities post via Instagram. There is nothing you can't find on Instagram. Hashtags allow users to search for practically anything they can think of.

Advertising on Instagram

Recently, Instagram decided to allow companies to advertise on Instagram. (It announced "Sponsored Photos and Videos" on October 24, 2013).  It was only a matter of time!  Instagram has recognized their potential to influence and mobilize social media selectivity for the right customers. Many companies already have a strong following. Starbucks, for example, already has 1.7 million followers. The Gap has over 200,000 followers and also uses the video sharing ability provided by Instagram. HubSpot, the all-in-one marketing software used in ISM 7505: Inbound Information Technology Tools, highlights its recent Inbound Marketing conference.  Michael Kors has 1.4 million and was actually chosen to be the very first ad on the Instagram app. Instagram has been apprehensive about allowing advertisers on the platform but they have promised users that their ads will not be bothersome and will be "beautiful, high-quality photos and videos." The ads are tailored to you by determining who you follow and what you like on Facebook (if you have a Facebook account).  The first sponsored ad by Michael Kors seems to be well received, as it already has 229,797 likes.

Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, explained that ads are helping Instagram transition from a startup to a business. He went on to explain that, “Ads on Instagram should feel like they should be on Instagram." Systrom sees Instagram as less of a photo company and more of a communications company. Systrom notes that the user's opinion is of the utmost importance. "We always wants to be sure the community has a voice.”

(All accolades and credit to Sari Gordon who is the idea generator and author of this tremendous blog post!)


Topics: social media

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