I was checking through my Instagram stream and noticed quite a few pics from people I was following (who I knew to be living in different countries) showing the same activities and places. Using my super detective skills (ok I clicked on the hashtag), I think I've come across the first global initiative to use Instagramers to promote a region. Promoting a place via social media is not new. On a smaller scale, myself and other food bloggers have been to Mornington Peninsula here in Victoria. Yet more food bloggers have visited New Zealand, and other food bloggers have gone to Malaysia, multiple times.
Using food blogs, and blogs in general, to promote things/places/organisations is not new, and has rather quickly evolved as the influence of blogs increases. The use of social media to promote things is now seen as one part of the marketing strategy for a company/organisation as the message they are trying to promote is coming from sources whose audience generally respects their opinion already. At about the same time as blogs being used to promote things, Twitter has also been used to help market certain things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires. As with anything new, the written, and unwritten rules are still being established.
With the rise of Instagram, the simple little app that has becoming the darling of the mobile world, it was only a matter of time that it too would be used as a marketing tool. It's a natural extension of other forms of social media marketing that are already occurring. Like millions of other users, now estimated at 40 million, I've become totally infatuated with Instagram. As with Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Youtube etc, you can share your life with others, this time through a camera lens. I think what some of the other social media platforms lack (possibly Youtube is exempted) that Instagram has, is a small level of artistry. There are some amazingly beautiful photos out there. With every smart phone now carrying a pretty decent camera, everyone is able to share what they see immediately. A community has quickly built up and people from all over the world interact with it other through what they see. It is very true that a picture tells a thousand words. You can argue that photos can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, but each has the limitation of only sharing to your friends, or having a smaller lifespan due to the nature of tweets.
The Catalan Board of Tourism have realised the power of Instagram, where users can have a huge reach amongst their global audience, and taken the initiative to organise for 11 popular Instagramers to visit Catalonia. The scale of this exercise is quite large, given the Instagramers come from all over the world, but probably no more expensive than spending money on a 30 second TV ad. Whilst the ad might only be seen by a limited audience amongst many other ads, the message from these popular Instagramers have the potential to produce a larger and lasting reach. I know I scroll back through people's photos when I find a new user I like so it can continue to reach people even after the event. That's one advantage that blogs and Instagram has over Twitter, as the back-search feature on Twitter is really clunky to use. Due to the limited number of posts and photos, the lifespan is longer than Twitter, where even a medium user would post many tweets in a day. Blogs do have an advantage over tweets and photos since we still search for things using words. A blog hit will come up in Google whereas an Instagram pic may not. Even with a hashtag, which are limited to 30, less people search through Instagram than just on the Internet as a whole.
This exercise still points to the emergence of yet another social media platform that can be used for marketing purposes. As long as there is a quasi-measure of influence (in the case of Instagram the number of followers and likes on a photo, and to a smaller extent comments) Instagram will be used more and more to help promote various things. Like blogs and Twitter, the rules of engagement are still being slowly worked out.
Lastly, don't forget to go to my Instagram account, ieatblog, and follow me and like my photos. I really want to get to fly to Catalonia for a holiday. :-)
Are you on Instagram?
What do you like about it?
What photos do you tend to like to look at?
Can you recommend me any great users I should follow (besides your good self of course)?