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The expectations of brands on social media are getting higher. This is leading to businesses having to turn away from traditional approaches and create more engaging and interactive experiences, with crowd-sourcing of content becoming a favourite method.

With 40% of people responding better to visual information than text alone, it is not a surprise to see brands diving in to experience the hype of the photo-sharing app, Instagram.

And there are brands who not only aim to discover the joys of Instagram through traditional engagement and networking, but by creating immersive and innovative campaigns.

It is easy to get distracted by the wealth of Instagram challenges and competitions, but with it becoming an increasingly crowded place, brands are learning how to make themselves more distinct by mixing their marketing techniques with artistic approaches.

As the secret to creating real brand utility is not in hyping the masses, but by helping them encourage, explore, and become inspired. Using social media for advertising is not enough - brands have to aim to become publishers who generate content and build campaigns which can be accompanied by their fans.

In this post, I am going to share with you four examples of engaging, interactive Instagram campaigns, which move beyond the confines of the browser to deliver something truly unique.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has found a new way to make Instagram photos stand out by making them the centerpiece of a unique social media installation called #Untamed, which premiered in the middle of Paris. The concept was supposed to correlate to Mercedes-Benz’s philosophy which followed the design of a new car, the CLA class.

The company, guided by the unconventional, unusual and untamed elements of the CLA, asked fans to contribute to this experience by submitting their interpretations of the word ‘Untamed’.

Mercedes-Benz wanted to avoid creating yet another average campaign with artificial photos, but generate real shots as a portrait of an individual, digital style. An international audience of art enthusiasts were able to admire these photos in a redesigned urban loft space, where vibrant, colourful and unique Instagram images became backdrops for fully designed living spaces.

#Untamed Photo Installation by Mercedes-Benz

This digital installation turned out to be a showcase of how breaking the norm and mixing marketing, social media and artistic direction could help brands raise the profile of any new product.

Nike

This sportswear maker has recently surprised everyone by offering the chance to its followers to become a designer and customiser by allowing them to create their own shoes using Instagram photos.

This new NikeiD campaign emphasises the social aspect where fans get the chance to become inspiration for one another and share their design ideas with the whole social community.

Nike Instagram Campaign


With one click of a button, users can select their favourite photo as a background for the Nike Air model, which then is customised based on the colours in the photo. The website Nike PHOTOiD lets users not only design but browse others shoe concepts, purchase their own customisations and share them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

This campaign gives a new meaning to the idea of putting your own stamp on social media.

Red Bull

It’s not a surprise to see Red Bull on this list, as this forward thinking company is leading not in just content marketing but in smart selling too.

But on this occasion Red Bull surprised everyone by a new product to life in an interesting way with Red Bull Editions, a collaborative art project called ‘Instagram Your Inspiration’.

Through the lens of Instagram, British fans were encouraged to submit inspirational photos featuring red, blue and silver (the colours of specific flavors of the new Red Bull Editions drink) using 3 hashtags: #rededitionplease, #silvereditionplease and #blueeditionplease.

Red Bull Instagram Your Inspiration campaign

Most interestingly, the best entries were brought to life with billboards, which later were displayed in five different cities around UK.

The concept differentiated from the already existing Instagram campaigns by creating a genuine collaboration with fans and giving them the chance to shine on the doorsteps of their beloved cities. Or if you prefer, by giving them wings to their creative flow.

Kellogg's

The food manufacturing company Kellogg’s came up with an idea to convert Instagram photos into a type of currency. The Special K store in Stockholm was turned into an Instashop, where a free box of new cereal was ‘swapped’ for Instagram photos.

Kellogg's Instashop

This simple, yet powerful, Kellogg's sampling program was selected as a route to promote a new product and drive sales. Although the choice of using Instagram as a medium wasn’t just an accident, as Kellogg’s spotted the power of Instagram a long time ago as this network ranks as one of the most popular social channels in Sweden.

According to Kellogg’s, the cereal giveaway was worth every penny, as the shared hashtag “#nyaspecialk” brought a significant amount of new business and social engagement.

Do you think it is becoming more difficult for brands to stand out on networks like Instagram? And are there any other Instagram campaigns you’d add to this list?

Kasia Piekut

Published 26 June, 2013 by Kasia Piekut

Kasia Piekut is Social Media Specialist at White.net and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Kasia on Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn or Instagram

8 more posts from this author

Comments (10)

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Thibaut Davoult

Brilliant post and selection. These are all on our short list of brands making waves on Instagram - We're particularly fond of the Mercedes Benz contest.

over 3 years ago

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P ONeill

I've seen the Mercedes used as an example a couple of times now, great campaign.

over 3 years ago

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Stephen Moyers

Really very nice post and happy to know something new about, some good ways this big brand using Instagram top promote their business. I really impress with the Nike campaign of customizing their own shoes in their own way and giving suggestion related to design and sharing them on Instagram. Now social media is moving into core business.

Thanks for sharing such world full post.

over 3 years ago

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Daniel Guest

Nice article thanks - Any idea how Kelloggs measured that their #nyaspecialk brought a significant amount of new business? (assuming they aren't depositing the instagram photos in the bank).

over 3 years ago

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zaynab ahmed, Marketing Executive at affilinet

Great article! Sneaker brand Supergas recently used Instagram and Facebook to great effect. Apparently over a six week competition 1,500 Instagram photo were hashtagged with their brand. You can find the case study here: http://www.mmkdigital.com/our-work/superga-instagram-competition/

over 3 years ago

Shoplet Promos

Shoplet Promos, Digital Marketing at Shoplet Promos

As the online world continues to evolve and expand, it's important for companies to keep pushing the envelope, adapt to the changes and remain creative. Social media allows businesses and consumers to interact like they never have before.

I love this description of what the goal should be when using social media - it's not just advertising to the masses but "by helping them encourage, explore, and become inspired." These aren't direct applicable to most companies but everyone should take notes. Great article!

over 3 years ago

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Andrea Grant

Instagram in no longer missing from the social media strategy. It’s one of the top visual social media networks that will help businesses get the best of their marketing strategy.

over 3 years ago

Kasia Piekut

Kasia Piekut, Social Media Specialist at White.net

@Thibaut Hi Thibaut, thank you very much for the feedback. I agree with you, the Mercedes Benz digital installation is a real masterpiece. It is amazing to see the creative and innovative ways brands are trying to engage the community. They definitely add a new meaning to the description of a social brand.

@P Oneill It is a very imaginative campaign, and is one of my favourites. I wish I could see it for myself! I'm looking out for UK brands doing something similar a little closer to home.

@Stephen Hi Stephen, thanks very much. It is great to see that brands are becoming so creative and bold with their social campaigns, designing things that are truly unforgettable. This experience is very important, as it not only makes the brand become more memorable but also makes you genuinely wish to interact with them.

@Daniel Thanks Daniel. While I'm not entirely sure, I assume Kelloggs simply measured the amount of sales before, during, and after the campaign and determined that there was a significant increase. This is their second social campaign of this type, the first being "Tweet Shop" in 2012 where users could exchange tweets for a snack, so I'm sure they learnt a thing or two from that.

@Zaynab Thanks Zaynab for sharing the Superga campaign, it is great to see that on this occasion they tried to use two different channels to boost the engagement. It is lovely to see that brands are experimenting with campaigns that aim to entertain users.

@Shoplet Thanks Shoplet Promos. I think that more time should be spent on these sorts of social campaigns compared to just relying on traditional advertising. Of course the ones mentioned in the article are rather innovative, but a good campaign doesn't necessarily have to be expensive to engage and reach virility.

As long as it's focused on creating a social experience, has clear objectives and strategy, there is nothing stopping it to even become a worldwide event.

At mark-making* we tested this ourselves by organising a mobile photography exhibition at our studio in Chipping Norton. The whole campaign was launched with a competition and was finished by selecting 26 winners who were included in a book we designed (and by hosting an exhibition). If you would like to you can find out more about this campaign here: http://www.mark-making.com/news/the-a-z-of-instagram.

@Andrea Instagram is definitely becoming a regular part of brand's social media strategies. We're excited to see what will become of Instagram in the near future, and what the platform will look like to advertisers.

over 3 years ago

Shoplet Promos

Shoplet Promos, Digital Marketing at Shoplet Promos

@Kasia That campaign sounds really interesting. I really like the concept behind using instagram and a book release - combining two very different mediums and using them in complementary ways. Very cool!

It sounds like it went great (26 competition winners implies a very solid turnout) and it definitely created a social experience. Congratulations! I'm sure there was a ton of work put into it. Inspiring stuff.

over 3 years ago

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Ryan Stewart

Awesome article @Kasia! I strongly believe Instagram is the most under-utilized social media network among businesses. Your article captures the multitude of ways a business can utilize it. We all know, "a picture is worth a thousand words", and on Instagram there are a thousand ways to display a picture, so you do the math!

Our firm (Linda Media Group) works in the Instagram space. We partner companies to create Instagram campaigns and then we distribute that content to our vast network of "Influential Instagrammers" to post to their massive following. We combine campaigns (as you described above) with an endorsement method that has proven extremely effective for us.

I would love to swap stories, blog/guest blog, and just network with you! I love meeting brilliant minds who work in the same space and share the same vision as we do. Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss. Keep up the great work, we love reading your content!

Have a great day :)

about 3 years ago

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