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What Is Instagram For?

What is Instagram for? What originated as an image-sharing platform has ballooned into a platform for discovery, revealing more about individuals, products, and brands than meets the eye. Users often refer to Instagram as the social network that best represents their true personality, and amateurs and professionals co-exist and collaborate on the network. We have seen Instagram used as a venue for exclusive music album and movie trailer drops, behind-the-scenes footage delivery, user-generated marketing campaigns, and hashtag movements. So really, what is Instagram for? The answer may be different depending on who you ask, but the following examples show that the possibilities are only beginning to be explored. Instagram is now being used in innovative ways to better collect and display information from both brands and individuals. This opens up the doors for creative marketing campaigns that take the functions of hashtags, tags, and search to the next level.
 
1. Shopping Online Catalogues
Making Instagram shoppable has been an increasingly desired feature thanks to the importance ofSnapshot Marketing in a brand’s social media portfolio. Vogue teamed up with the platform LiketoKnow:It from RewardStyle, which sends “where to buy” email alerts of liked items, along withfashion bloggers who are following the same strategy. Embedding links into Instagram posts is still nonexistent, but some creative thinking from IKEA shows a new way to spotlight products and create an entirely shoppable catalogue on the network. The brand created the Instagram profile @ikea_ps_2014as the homebase for its PS 2014 collection with a grid of photos and information. Click into the posted images and each product is tagged, directing users to individual Instagram profiles for each product. For instance, @ps_bureau has images of product information for the IKEA bureau like price and specification descriptions, in both English and Russian, and also displays the bureau’s function and decoration ideas through a short video and catalogue stills. IKEA’s Instagram-enabled collection functions much like a website, offering easy and targeted access to the products that users generally browse through. Creating individual product profiles is also a fun way to add personality to the brand and expose users to products that might otherwise get lost in the background.
 
2. Creating Wedding Albums
Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour is notoriously tightlipped about the inner workings of her magazine,and even more careful about guarding details of her personal life. While daughter Bee Shaffer is often Wintour’s plus one at events, her son Charlie has managed to stay out of the spotlight as a Columbia med student. But his wedding to college sweetheart Elizabeth Cordry at the end of June gained major exposure, and not just on Page Six. Attendees were encouraged to hashtag the event on Instagram with #thismasticmoment, a play on words for the estate location in Mastic, Long Island. Coverage of the wedding from the ceremony to the first dance to the honeymoon farewell were posted on the social network by Bee, Charlie, and other guests, creating a makeshift wedding album to commemorate the event and control what images were shared. (Photos of Wintour herself were not posted.) Wedding hashtags have been happening for some time on Instagram, but Wintour’s approval shows that now even the cultural elite are getting on board. Survey data from April 2014 let us know that almost a quarter of Millennials ages 25 and older have been to a wedding where the couple incorporated social media. Brides and grooms are becoming more accustomed to creating a wedding hashtag to cull pictures posted online for a real-time account of the wedding. For one of the toughest editorial critics to condone the display of photos posted online from the private family event marks a turning point for sharing culture, and the significance of Instagram to document even the most personal moments.
 

3. Filling Casting Calls
It has become common for new Millennial stars to be discovered from online networks like YouTube and Vine, and now even image-sharing platform Instagram is being combed for young talent. Melissa Stanforth, a 26-year-old casting director, found her niche and strength in the industry from her social media savvy, bypassing the Google searches of older colleagues and instead searching hashtags on Instagram to find reality TV contestants. Celebrities are known for self-promotion on their social media channels, so the same can be applied to micro-celebrities on social media in order to boost TV ratings. Follower numbers and actively engaged audiences signal to her whether or not someone can convert those followers into viewers, and Melissa even goes so far as to investigate events and openings related to a show’s vibe to found out who is most featured. Fashion brands like ASOS and Brandy Melville have also begun casting through social media, either encouraging hashtag campaigns or promoting for in-store casting calls. Marc Jacobs recently ran a campaign for the new Marc by Marc Jacobs collection using the hashtag #CastMeMarc. 70,000 submissions later, nine people from around the world were chosen that exemplify the fresh and youthful collection, going further to represent the brand with the Millennials who are actually wearing it.