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How brands can use Instagram and other mobile photo sharing applications today for customer engagement

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The saying is a photo is worth a thousand words and if that is the case books are being published in popular mobile sharing applications such as Instagram, Path, picplz, Burstn, Treehouse and more. Stories and experiences are being shared by uploading photos and new mobile social networking communities are being formed. Yesterday I posted an overview of Instagram and how Instagram lands its first brand partner the National Geographic. While the popularity of mobile photo sharing apps seems to be growing, I believe we will see more brands use photo sharing applications as another tool to engage with customers or gain new customers or as another marketing channel.

While more open photos sharing apps like Instagram, picplz and Burstn continue to gain users, another sad but inevitable trend we may start seeing is more users trying to increase their followers and treating photo sharing apps like another Twitter or social networking site. Just yesterday someone was searching “how to get more followers on Instagram” and landed on this site. Gaining more followers at this point just means more people will see your photos but soon as more brands partner with photo sharing applications to offer incentives for let’s say, best photo or a caption contest the race to get more followers on photo sharing apps could start.

With the rumors around how many users Instagram has and the news around Path and picplz VC funding, it will be curious to see what is next for photo sharing apps outside of multiple platforms support (Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile 7, iPad and Tablets). Will photo sharing apps create dashboard for users and brands to see analytics on photos? Will photo sharing applications create APIs for other services to pull in photos? Will leaderboards be created from photo sharing applications like Twitter had that lead to its early success?

Regardless, not just iPhone users although Instagram is said to have one million iPhone users alone, but it seems mobile phone users are joining photo sharing apps and uploading thousands of photos. The only thing left now is monetization, brands and agencies start seeing opportunities to use photo sharing apps as a way to increase customer engagement or for marketing and when they do…. please do not call it social media.

Until then, here are few ways brands can use Instagram and other mobile photo sharing applications for marketing or customer engagement.

1. Sell Cat food!

Really… do not laugh, Instagram is full of cat and other animal photos. I’m not a big animal person and not a fan of ads but a brands could have “show us your cat” and pick the winning photo for free cat food for the month. They would have to follow the brand on Instagram to win. Then the brands could reply to announce the winner in the comments.

2. The same could be said for diapers.

There are a lot of baby photos being uploaded.

3. Caption Contest.

4. For Questions and Answers:

What is your favorite artist or What CD should you buy?

5. Product placement

6. Show us your best photo of our location

7. Book Cover feedback

8. At conferences, find the exhibit booth with xzy and take a picture

9. Photographers can show there work.

10. Holiday photo tagging.

Ex: Show us your Christmas Tress

So far I have seen photos being uploaded of brands such as Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Old Spice, Staples, McDonald’s, and various energy drinks. For brands and agencies, what is one of first tips we said in social media class 101? Participate where customers are talking about your brand online. As for photo sharing applications, it’s participate where people are posting photos about your brand in mobile applications.

Do you think we’ll see more brands partner with photo sharing applications in the future?

Also read:
Will Instagram become the next big mobile social network or just one awesome photo sharing app?
On Thanksgiving Instagram is all about the Turkeys! 9 Thanksgiving Day Turkey photos on Instagram
The 7 most popular photos on Instagram, there’s more than lol cats!


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