Instagram for brands

It’s been a while since we spoke about Instagram and in the meantime there have been lots of novelties and improvements. But let’s start with a few numbers (November 2015): every day, about 80 million photos are published on the platform and are marked by about 3.5 billion ‘likes’ per day.

Luca Silva | Studiowasabi.com

So now there are lots of possibilities for companies to promote their activity and products. In this period (November 2015) in particular, the perception of this instrument is changing, and thanks to the arrival of Ads in Italy too, many brands are focusing on sponsoring posts (both photos and videos) where they tell us about (storytelling) their company and services/products. Fortunately, since Instagram is a “creative” platform, we can be very original by exploiting the different types of ads. But we will speak about this in more detail later.

We were saying that there have been several changes not only for what concerns the main app but also in the integration of other “supporting” apps.

WE ARE SPEAKING ABOUT Layout, Hyperlapse and the ultra-recent (November 2015) Boomerang.

Let’s analyze each one to understand how we can use them on a corporate level.

Layout: Instagram, too, has decided to implement an app to combine different photos in one image. The app can also directly identify the faces and in this way it is possible to immediately choose the photos for the composition. Very different, however, from creating a mosaic starting with one image (like Instagrids).

Hyperlapse: often we see videos created using the time lapse technique. Well, Instagram has decided to create its own app in order to be able to implement this type of video, too. Once created, it is possible to increase the video’s initial speed twelve fold, creating something special. Boomerang: this application allows creating a video in continuous sequence that runs backwards and forwards, making it possible to produce creative one second videos starting from a simple sequence shooting of five frames.

A further integration (August 2015) that started making the difference is the possibility of posting photos also in extended formats, i.e., landscape and portrait.


Indeed, it may very well happen that the issue is entrusted to the wrong people or that we ourselves do not have sufficient inside training to use these instruments. One of the first mistakes to avoid is to be too self-serving, focusing our users’ attention only on the contents of our own products and/or services; this should not happen in general because these instruments are used to test the waters and establish a dialogue, not a monologue… 

And let’s always remember that images remain more impressed in the mind than words, so content curation is important in planning what we wish to transmit. Not only for what concerns times but also relative to the angle we want to give. An attentive analysis of the audience we are addressing, an analysis of the engagement (or total interaction) in relation to the themes treated will allow to obtain (in the long term, because at least in the beginning, we need to have patience) optimal results. Above all if we respect our users and if we try to create really engrossing contents.

IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO SIMPLY TAKE A PICTURE OF THE PRODUCTS: we must try to maximize interaction with users by actively involving them (just think that a user who really loves a brand – the so-called ‘lovebrand’ – follows it and interacts constantly with it).

Let’s start with some suggestions, above all if you have not yet created your account on Instagram or you have done so recently. As we have mentioned, the first thing to do is to have an idea of your reference audience and to later analyze it more in-depth. Once this is done, one of the activities performed more often is to tell or recall the story of a service/brand and through the photo shoot, ask the audience if they know or remember the product/service. This eventual interaction generates the emotion of the memory in the user, it will most likely have an impact on him or her, leading to appreciate it not only with a “like” (a parameter considered often, but relative) but perhaps with a comment or even by reposting (through special apps like Instarepost or Regram) those contents and disseminating the company’s message even farther, thus increasing brand awareness. Recently, Instagram introduced the possibility to send, through direct messaging or DM, the post (photo or vid-eo) to other users. This, too, enhances engagement!

CREATIVITY IS THE ONLY LIMIT. An example? Creating a sort of story, both through video and photographs, that engrosses the user and leads him or her to become a customer. How? Well, with a story told in episodes, like: http://instagramersitalia.it/fertylize-i-video-su-instagram-tra-intrattenimento-e-marketing/

The automotive field offers several spurs; car producers have been very creative in integrating their presence on Instagram. A case-in-point was developed by @FordItalia for the launch of the Mustang by creating the #InstaTestRide through the streets of Rome.


It is an itinerary divided into two scenarios that the user can choose by clicking on the image (tapping highlights the tags of the ac-counts created for the itineraries). From these two accounts, we access images and special contents and by clicking on each image as it appears, we advance along the itinerary chosen. Each account created in comprised of a mosaic of images that allows visualizing different scenarios of the capital (from the Pincian Hill to the Capitoline Hill, from Piazza Venezia to the Imperial Fora, for example) but above all, to see previews of the car and its optionals in addition to new test drives and timelapse videos.



A SIMILAR CASE OF “MOSAIC NAVIGATION” WITH THE CREATION OF SOME ACCOUNTS was created by ChupaChupsWorlds lollipops for Halloween (October 2015). In this case, the story speaks of Lolli (a female chupachups) https://www.instagram.com/getlolli/ to be res-cued (for the backstory: https://www.instagram.com/p/uIcSWsqKDC/?taken-by=getlolli). For this occasion, the team created videos that featured references to renowned horror films using the semi stop motion techniques and fingers as featured characters. The story is entertaining and fascinating, the scenarios are all different and in the end, it is a very pleasurable experience for the user because he has to find the room where Lolli is hiding. Everything is based on building mosaic accounts connected to one another and featuring very special video contents. The “treasure” hunt becomes increasingly compelling along the way (indicated in the images by arrows - often we come to a crossroads - and despite this forced indication, the attention still grows) and if you find the way to rescue Lolli, an unexpected surprise awaits you: it is Halloween, after all! A very successful project indeed.

A PARTICULAR CASE TO MENTION IS THE #BETUSCAN PROJET curated by the newspaper @IlTirreno together with Tuscan local managers (the area reference persons of the Instagramers Italia association for the Tuscan provinces and “managers” of the accounts of the 10 provinces) to describe the territory. How? In cooperation, each local manager was called to tell about his or her province through daily management of Il Tirreno’s account, supplying original photos and texts.

This engagement strategy allowed “opening” the doors of the editorial office to the public, who really appreciated this co-management.


Following a start-off phase, the project continues and it seems that interest is growing.

ANOTHER CASE HISTORY FOR INTERACTING WITH THE PUBLIC AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK? Well, this past Christmas, the company @Technogym https://www.instagram.com/technogym/ created the project @WellnessGiftFinder for gift advice for sports lovers. The account was prepared using a series of photographs with questions. Each photo contains a link and a further account that in the end illustrates the suggestion of the product gift. A very original idea to advertise your products in a different way.


1. Always plan contents in relation to your users. Creating contents (photos and videos) suited to your audience will make the account really “felt” by users. Appropriate, creative captions full of impact will substantially grow their level of interest.

2. Create quality photos and videos. Starting with proper lighting (basically, choosing whether to do this in controlled fashion in a studio or in an internal or external environment with natural light), up to contrast, to the use of shadows and chromatic variation. The important thing is to remember to be original and creative. Inspiration without copying.

3. Try to draft a scheduled editorial plan based on contents and on the audience. Certain hours are better to transmit certain contents (whether these be more or less promotional or self-serving). Remember that, on average, a photo is of interest to the audience for 3 to 5 hours.

4. Engagement: interaction with the audience is imperative for the positive outcome of the strategy associated with your corporate account. Engagement is given by interaction with the audience through the comments written on your photos and on those of the users (who can appreciate the brand by dedicating photos to it), “likes” and any repostings of the contents. 

5. Geolocalize: during events and in general, tagging your contents through localization is very important. This will allow users to understand where the frames were taken but above all, they will be able to look for them through the location. It is also useful to remember the activities performed after some time has passed. Based on the number of posts created in a year, associating them also based on the location is important, something that comes in handy also when making a report of the brand’s activities.

6. Prepare a proper bio for your account. It is important to acquaint people with the brand but without being too boring. Additionally, it is possible to add a clickable link; generally, the best advice is to add a link that allows tracing (both through the bit.ly service as well as Google Analytics).

7. Creation of challenges and contests (in Italy, they are considered contests, so it is better to get the opinion of a lawyer or of an accountant). Through these options, the most deserving users can be rewarded based on strategy. It is one thing to create a challenge to grow brand presence, it is quite another to do so in order to interact and better understand your audience.

8. Involvement of users with a high following can arouse these followers’ interest in the brand or product/service. In this case, it all depends on what we really expect from this method. It can be a strategy that yields valid results but it can also be seen as a strategy in the quest for élite groups that may not be appreciated by your audience and generate the opposite outcome.

BUT THE ISSUE IS DIFFERENT IF WE WANT TO LAUNCH A NEW PRODUCT OR SERVICE and we choose users who have technical or specific knowledge of the realm. In this way, these “chosen few” will be able to try the product and produce an indicative perception by talking about it with their followers.

9. Remember not to be too self-serving and promotional. Your corporate account should tell about particular aspects, from behind the scenes to a particular use of a product, from publishing suggestions to better use a product to reposting a user’s photo. For advertising, there is the Instagram Ads platform.

10. Analysis. To understand if the strategy chosen for our contents is correct, monitoring will have to be done, through platforms. And this is very important also in the event that we want to create a hashtag (a label to classify and look for photos) for a challenge, a contest or to customize a certain characteristic of our contents. In all these cases, we must understand the audience’s perception through precise instruments, something that will also allow to better understand at which time of the day and what type of appreciations our followers make.

THE AD PLATFORM: How to create an ad on Instagram and why. Through the Facebook entry management system (yes, Instagram is part of FB and to activate the campaigns, you must have a FB page) it is possible to create a set of ads. Why use this platform? Because there is greater interaction on Instagram and activity can be monitored.

Formats are traditional images (resolution up to 1080 px for the square format or 1200 px for the extended version), videos (max. duration 30” and max weight 30Mb) and carousels (a set of 4 – and soon 5 – horizontally running images, useful in promoting more than one product). Actions available: a link to a website (for images and carousels) through a customizable button (book now, sign up, etc.), installation of an app (for images and videos) in this case, too, through a customized button (install now, etc.).

A piece of advice for the link to your website is to create a specific page (landing page) to maximize customer interaction or requests and of course the website will have to be responsive (i.e., adaptive based on the device used).

SOME INSTRUMENTS: Iconosquare. Thanks to this online service it is possible to have a scenario of the level of engagement, best posts, best hours relative to the content posted, followers acquired/lost, followers who interact most, photos receiving the most likes, most-commented photos and lots more. It is a basic instrument that yields an overall picture of the situation.

Latergramme or Hootsuite. One of the worst nightmares of social media managers on Instagram is to prepare contents to be posted in preset hours based on the editorial plan. With this kind of service, the job is facilitated because, once the contents to be posted are prepared, the service will notify you a short time before publishing them and will allow posting them correctly. Repost, Instarepost or Regram. These types of applications allow reposting a user’s contents, enhancing the value of the user and growing users’ perception of the brand, hence increasing engagement.

Instagram partners program. Launched recently, this service allows entering into contact with people who supply technical support relative to planning of the campaigns and their contents.

IN CONCLUSION: The advice is to enhance your contents by trying to get users’ approval (even through a simple “like”, albeit a parameter that is not completely reliable if compared to number of photos, comments and the time of the interaction) but it is very important to set up a long-term strategy, trying in every possible way to interact with the public and really engross people in your brand. It is better to have a restricted but passionate group of followers of your brand, service or product, than to have one that never or hardly ever interacts.

And this is because on the web and above all on certain social media platforms, the audience tends to get bored more quickly, so attaining the goals set becomes more and more complicated. *

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