June 10, 2015

How instagram is the new power player in social currency

The old saying of “a picture is worth a thousand words” is still very relevant to this day, which is pretty impressive considering the quote first appeared in print in the early 1900s. However, just like everything it has evolved; now a great shot can be worth a thousand likes.

It’s strange to think that Instagram, which only launched five years ago, can hold such gravitas in our society, as of 2015 there are 300 million Instagrammers. Armed with its #hashtags, it really has become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to marketing oneself or ones business especially considering the coveted demographic of 16-24 year olds make up over 40% of Instagram’s users.

Let’s take for example the Marc Jacobs 2014 Daisy campaign. During New York Fashion Week the public were invited into a pop-up store and in exchange for quirky innovative posts using the hashtag #MJDaisyChain, they would then leave with their very own bottle of Daisy.

Obviously it would have been a more nuanced exchange than suggested by my preceding description (and I’m sure there were some ‘Terms & Conditions’ in place to ensure customers couldn’t steal away with a booty of Daisy bottles), but the point I wish to make is that a key reason this campaign gained so much exposure is that required no monetary exchange; instead Marc Jacobs capitalized purely on “social currency”.

It’s an intriguing concept and one that Marc Jacobs (or at least his Digital Team) have continued to use since, with slight adjustments of course. Repetition is not ideal. One of their latest social media campaigns centres on the hashtag #CastMeMarc for Marc by Marc Jacobs, which is probably one of the best ways, in my opinion, for the company to engage with its followers. Rather than pushing the upcoming Fall line with the familiar faces of celebrities and supermodels, the fashion house has invited the consumer to become a part of the Marc Jacobs family.

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To note the success of both campaigns is simple. Log in to your Instagram account and search #CastMeMarc; the hashtag has been used in over 147,000 individual posts and the initial campaign attracted 70,000 entries. Though #MJDaisyChain had less usage (though 9,639 posts is nothing to be ashamed of), it set a precedent for the fashion house by exhibiting their innovation and ability to evolve in the digital age, seamlessly integrating the brand onto multi social media platforms and driving a deep customer connection.

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These campaigns reinforce the use of branded hashtags and their popularity as a method for businesses to engage with online communities and build excitement around campaigns. By centralising the campaigns around a branded hashtag, Marc Jacobs created a win-win situation for both the follower and brand, generating free exposure to their online communities through their followers’ Instagram activity, as well as creative user generated content to repurpose via their own online marketing channels. Their followers also enjoyed a sense of personal connection with the brand they care about, while being part of an active and engaged online community, driving rewards in both a literal and psychological sense.

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In the communications industry, it’s amazingly inspirational to be able to track the innovative progress of global brands, and incorporate their strategies into our own client work.  Stay tuned for a suitably engaging activation from #teamTOH in the months ahead!

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