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Insta-branding: How Brands Are Telling Their Story Through Instagram


We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so if your brand had a chance to tell its story in photographs, exactly what words would it be saying? Instagram may have been designed for individuals to share their lives with their friends through photos, but because Instagram is one of the most popular social platforms today, companies are now utilizing the free photo app to share their stories through compelling images on the digital and social space. 


How it works:

Instagram succeeds because of how simple it is. Just about anyone with a smartphone can snap a photo, choose a filter, and share it with friends on several different social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and more. There’s a lot of flexibility with this app when it comes to sharing. You can keep your profile private, limiting your photo reach to only your friends, or keep it public and reach potentially hundreds or thousands of people. 


Why it’s great for brands:

Two words: Company culture. Sharing photos from the company itself adds another dimension to brand voice, and an effective one at that. This is your chance to get really creative with a broad range of consumers. Depending on the brand image you choose to portray, you can enhance it with images. Demonstrate new uses of different products, share a photo from the latest office celebration, share live images from a fun company event, and anything else you think will captivate an audience.


Best Practices:

Instagram is simple, but for fullest reach potential, the usage of the app still requires a bit of strategy for brands. Here are some best practice tips to further your brand’s social presence on this specialized platform:Starbucks Screenshot

  • Informative profile: Many times, people see profile handles (names) before the photos themselves. Make sure your handle is relevant to your actual name, if not simply your brand name itself. Set the profile photo as something explicitly relatable to the brand, like the logo. Finally, include the company homepage in the profile. It might also be good to include Twitter handles and a link to your brand page on Facebook to simultaneously drive traffic towards them as well.
  • Strategic hashtags: Instagram tells us to be specific, be relevant, and be observant. Simply put, it’s best to avoid generalized hashtags (like #iPhone and #instagram) and keep on the lookout for hashtags that are more popular than others. For instance, the #NYC tag has over six times as many photos as the #NewYorkCity tag.  
  • Post for the people: Leave the personal interests for your own Instagram profile, because a brand’s priority lies in the attraction of other people.  Post quality, interesting photos that people want to see. Consider a trial-and-error posting process by recognizing the types of photos that generate the most buzz (more likes and comments). 

 Photo: Screenshot of @Starbuck's Instagram profile

Business Models:

Here are a few examples of brands that are doing Instagram right:

  • @Sharpie: Sharpie does a great job in creating a solid brand identity. Their photos are rarely of their products; instead, they’re photos of what their products can do. Sharpie’s page is full of fun drawings, creative crafts and unique uses.WFM
  • @WholeFoodsMarket: A foodie’s favorite account, for sure. Whole Foods Market does a great job displaying company culture, plus food from worldly and local distributors that followers very clearly appreciate (just take a look at the likes and comments on their food posts!). Also, WFM has recently hosted an Instagram contest for Earth Month (April), boosting the number of followers and establishing an iconic hashtag.
  • @Celtics: This team has an extremely loyal following, and no matter what happens on the court, they don’t disappoint in the socialsphere. This account posts photos of moments that won’t always be caught on ESPN.
  • @Bergdorfs: This couture mecca consistently posts filtered fashion from the office, the runway, the store and more. Their 72,000 (and counting!) followers have a feed that won’t ever run dry!

Photo: Screenshot of a @WholeFoodsMarket Instagram with hundreds of likes

What are some of your favorite companies to follow on Instagram? 


-- Jaime Cheng

Where have all the photos gone?


photo sharing

Back in simpler times— let’s say 2006— when Twitter was in its infancy and Facebook was caught in an awkward adolescence, photo-sharing services were an essential part of one’s online persona.  Sites like Picasa, Flickr and Photobucket invited users to upload their pictures, share with friends and “follow” others long before such features had caught fire in other social systems.

But where are they now?

While the aforementioned services still enjoy a great deal of traffic, they seem to have been shuffled to the corner in terms of general buzz.  Soon Picasa (along with Blogger) will lose its unique brand nameas part of the Google+ integration— a decision that could relegate Picasa (neé Google+ Photos) to the ranks of Instagram and Facebook Photos.

In 2006, Webshotswas my photo-sharing service of choice. Five years later, the site still sends me regular updates on my albums’ activity (surprisingly, people are still looking). The appeal of Webshots lay in its low-pressure yet dynamic atmosphere; it was a place to share images with non-Facebook users and to show off my shots to anyone who happened to stumble upon the account. While Webshots never boasted a strong community environment, it did feature a “Picture of the Day” and invited users to get lost browsing a smorgasbord of images— some funny, some pointless and some extraordinary.  Bought by American Greetings in 2007, what was once a tidy and quiet site now seems cold, cluttered and too commercial.

Is the friendly, inspiring and not-too-social atmosphere a thing of the past for photo-sharing sites?  Perhaps not.

500px, a startup from 2003 and recent darling of Microsoft BizSpark is attempting to create a home for professional photographers and photo-lovers alike. While the site features a follow function, Twitter account and Facebook page, its tie-in to social media is more conservative. LiveJournal, not WordPress or Tumblr, hosts the site’s blog. Eschewing the share-happy mentality, their mission is “to help photographers get greater exposure, reduce some of the marketing headaches, and to let creatives concentrate on what they do best.”

Although 500px might not be the best fit for an amateur photographer like me, it’s reassuring to know that high-quality images (see editors’ picks) have a community base unfettered by tags and tweets.

Nicole Duncan

Joyful (Inappropriate) Art Viewing Gains Popularity on Web



  What I consider socially acceptable is often not in line with the views of others.  Here are three examples of the inappropriate (I call them
joyful) acts I commit on a weekly, if not daily, basis: dancing to my iPod in public, calling my superiors "Dude," and playing with other
people's children (being a stranger).

While other art students from my old school in Boston would quietly sneak touches of artworks by artists they adored (if you're shocked,
get over it – artists frequently touch each others pieces), I would get hyper and jump and shout when a piece really knocked me out.  I have
received the nastiest "Your-behavior-is-SO-inappropriate!" glares in the gallery setting.   

Today, I found a sister in art reaction, Allison Reimus, a MFA student at American Univeristy in Washington DC.  Her blog, a compilation of
user-submitted photos gathered since 2007, is titled Jumping in Art Museums.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Diesel Fumes Over Global Warming


Diesel_global_2Parrots replacing the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square?  A tropical rainforest sprouting from the fields in Parc du Champs de Mars?  Could this be a wonderful version of future life, or a timely juxtaposition exposing the subtle horrors of global warming?

Diesel, while reducing the contents of my wallet, has also decided to reduce global warming. They’ve taken iconic locations from around the world, added some of the long-term effects of an increasingly hot Earth, and put some good looking folks in denim in the photos. This accomplishes three things:

  1. It cleverly illustrates the need for global warming regulations.
  2. It sells their clothes.
  3. It looks cool.

While it may not have the Bono-tastic marketing push of (Red), it takes chutzpah to have your company’s website feature such a message. and so prominently.  It’s a worthy effort from a brand trying to do more than just sell clothes.

The Red Cross: Scaring the Piss Out of You Since 1863


I love Michael Bay movies if only because he makes things explode better than anyone. I’ll watch as he destroys Grand Central Station, causeways over Biscayne Bay in Miami, and most of San Francisco, knowing I can go home and sleep comfortably in a much less chaotic world. 

The Bay Area Red Cross (no relation) has taken a chapter from Bay’s book and created pictures of a destroyed San Francisco, blown them up to billboard size, and slapped them on the side of trucks, which just happen to park in front of the non-destroyed scenes they’re depicting.  Each ad has a message urging citizens to create earthquake emergency plans and other safety precautions.

Little White Flakes


H_sWe didn’t want to be the ones to break it to you.  But if not us, who?  We’ve established a trust these past few months and, quite honestly, we only want to help. 

That black sweater you bought which, in your words, is fiercewhen combined with those new shoes, makes for a great outfit.  We agree on that.  But your dandruff problem makes your shoulders look like a Colorado mountain pass five hours after a blizzard. 

These conversations don’t have to be so awkward.  The gently-reassuring folks as Head and Shoulders have placed a camera on the ceiling of British photo-booths so those concerned about psoriasis can get a bird’s-eye view of their noggin. 

A good secondary use is keeping track of that rapidly expanding bald spot. 

Share the Air


ShareairLast Friday evening, we launched the new Panasonic Action

Sports Site.
The interactive site is a cool place for action sports enthusiasts to
experience the Panasonic brand while expressing themselves creatively. The site
features an Action Sports film contest, Dew Tour info, a gear section, and an
Oxyride sweepstakes page.

Another highlight of the site, the photo blog, offers unique
perspectives from action sports heroes Atiba Jefferson (photographer, editor of
“The Skateboard Mag”), Sam Smyth (Team manager of Girl Skateboards), and Jimmie
Mcguire (motocross athlete). The photos are, of course, taken with Panasonic
digital cameras.

LA’s Baseball Team


First and foremost, I need to give love to my LA Dodgers. They are actually playing well (i actually just jinxed them) and Jeff Kent probably just fell off his motorcycle (again).

In my first official post, i want to comment on an idea that the Dodgers came out with.

EricgagneThe Dodgers coupled their "LA’s Baseball Team" marketing campaign with an Eric Gagne look alike contest. LA Dodgers Press Release This contest featured the pride of the Dodgers and the most emotional, and recognizable face on the team.

I feel like this contest was incredible and very much a Renegade Idea. First, it was newsworthy as Gagne just won the CY Young, an incredible feat as a reliever. Second, the contest allowed fans the opportunity to meet their hero (insert emotional connection here). Third, the Dodgers were able to measure the results of the contest via online submissions and the increase in hits and unique visits to their website.

The contest was very successful as the winner of the contest made it to the Los Angeles area print and television media outlets.

Some skateboard photography


Polaroids04Ryan AllanShad Lambert, and Phil Blair all do really great photography, specifically for skateboarding.

Flickr Photobooth


While all the digital camera companies seem to be coming up with easier ways to print, my bet is on the company that figures out how to make it easier for people to share images online.

[From PSFK]

The Shine bar on Mission is San Francisco has installed a photobooth that sends photos directly to photo sharing site Flickr. It’s turned out to be pretty popular as CNET reports

CNET Article
Pic Of Photobooth In Use (On Flickr of course)

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