Introduction: The Instagram Channel
Three Principles: Instagram Strategy
Instagram Business Value
Context & Relevance: Instagram Local
What’s Coming: Instagram Ads
The Brand Selfie
Brand Profile: Disneyland
Brand Profile: JCPenney
Brand Profile: Barney’s Beanery
Brand Profile: Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
Reprint from The Huffington Post
By Rob Reed, Founder, MomentFeed, November 2013
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2 The Year Of The Instagram Strategy 3momentfeed.com
The Instagram Channel
As 2013 comes to a close,
marketers should be thinking
about 2014 as the year of the
4 The Year Of The Instagram Strategy 5momentfeed.com
Not only is the total number impressive, but it means
Instagram is growing at a rate of more than 100 million new
users per year, as the social network added 50 million of
them in the past six months.
Managing the Instagram channel is no longer optional.
It has become a strategic imperative for any brand or
small business, and the urgency grows daily along with
its user base. More than anything, Instagram presents an
unparalleled opportunity to build and share a brand — to
show a different side by leveraging this highly visual medium.
Plus, the rate of customer engagement is off the charts
compared to other social channels. But there are challenges.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, it’s not as easy to manage
Instagram using native tools. Plus, what exactly does it
mean to “manage” Instagram? This is a big question that
we’ll seek to answer through the entirety of this paper.
Instagram recently announced it has more than
150 million monthly active users worldwide.
More specifically, brands should be asking and answering
Monthly Active Users:
Average Photos per day:
Total photos shared:
• Is Instagram just about posting brand photos and videos?
• Are repurposed advertising images good enough for
an Instagram feed?
• Is there a conversation to be had with customers
• Is Instagram a customer service channel?
• How does one build an Instagram following?
• Can brands utilize customer content from Instagram?
• Is Instagram a local marketing channel?
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Consistent with the new media revolution, Instagram represents
the ability to connect directly, authentically, and efficiently with a
large number of consumers through a two-way medium. The
medium has evolved, however, from text and ads through PCs
to photos and videos through mobile devices.
We’ve outlined the three key principles to successfully
managing the Instagram channel and executing successful
Instagram may be a new channel that is just
now achieving massive scale, but many of the
same marketing principles still apply.
Brands can populate their Instagram feed with content
through two methods: creating original brand content and
curating customer content.
Original Instagram content strategies can vary widely.
We find that authentic, in-the-moment content performs
best...as opposed to generic advertising photography
being repurposed for Instagram. There are cases like Fab,
however, where images shot in a studio feel natural on the
Instagram platform. This has a lot to do with the brand
and brand category, as we find that authentic food photos
do better than studio shots. The top Instagram brands in
terms of original content include Ben & Jerry’s, The Gap,
Patagonia, and Starbucks. The feeds for these brands
show originality while staying true to their identities and
providing a more intimate and authentic look at what they
Nevertheless, producing a steady stream of authentic,
original content can be expensive and time consuming.
Which is why brands should consider balancing original
content with curated customer photos and videos i.e.
“re-gramming” the best brand-related content from customers.
This is similar to a retweet on Twitter...but with better
content. Re-gramming takes a customer photo or video and
reposts it to the brand’s feed with the proper attribution.
It provides brands with a limitless source of high-quality,
brand-specific content while authentically engaging
customers and encouraging them to produce more and
better photos of their brand experiences.
Note: Regramming is not a native Instagram feature.
One must generally use a third-party application, such as
MomentFeed, that automates this feature on a smartphone,
as the only way to post Instagram content is through the
mobile Instagram app.
1. Create and Curate
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First, brands need to see all of the related photos and
videos customers are posting on Instagram. This includes
monitoring all brand, sub-brand, and campaign hashtags
— positive, negative, misspellings, etc. — as well as photos
being tagged to specific locations, known as “location tags.”
With brick-and-mortar brands, up to 40% of all brand-
tagged Instagram photos are only being location tagged, and
these tend to have a stronger brand signal than hashtags.
Next, brands need to monitor Instagram comments for
critical keywords. These could be related to a campaign
or product launch to measure impact. On a daily basis,
however, Instagram comments will surface a broad range of
customer issues. Indeed, Instagram has become a critical
customer service channel alongside Facebook and Twitter.
Unlike Twitter or Facebook, though, Instagram always
includes a photo or video. So if there is a hair in someone’s
food or a messy bathroom; if employees are behaving
inappropriately or the customer experience doesn’t live up
to the brand promise, an Instagram response means there
is photo or video proof. As such, the negative impact on a
brand can be magnified tremendously as this content gets
shared to Facebook and Twitter.
2. Listen 3. Respond
There are two simple ways to respond to customers via
Instagram: liking and commenting on their content.
The Instagram “like” is an easy and efficient way to thank
customers for sharing and engaging with a brand. More
often than not the customer will receive a mobile push
notification indicating that the brand has liked their photo,
thus engaging on a one-to-one basis. This also has the
effect of growing a brand’s Instagram following because
tapping on the brand’s “like” takes the customer to its profile
page. The customer may not have been aware the brand
was on Instagram before this.
Commenting can also be a way to thank customers.
However, this mechanism is best utilized as a customer
service channel to address dissatisfied customers and
resolve the issues, either within Instagram or through an
offline channel. One of the advantages of Instagram is that
the conversation on each photo is discrete. Unlike Twitter
they are not part of a brand’s open content stream. So it’s
not absolutely necessary to take these conversations offline.
Plus, a brand can comment on multiple photos with the
same message without coming across as inauthentic.
Matching #disneyland #california #losangeles
Fantastic photo! do you approve of us featuring it (with
photo credit) on our official Disneyland Instagram account?
If so, please reply ‘yes’ in the comment below.
By crafting strategies around these three basic principles,
brands can maximize the success of Instagram as a
scalable and multi-faceted marketing channel that puts
customers at the center of the experience.
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Customers that are more engaged with a brand tend
to be more loyal and spend more money. Social
engagement is increasingly becoming a reliable signal
and proxy for business performance, especially when
measured at the store (POS) level.
Large-scale social networks can be tremendous sources
of word-of-mouth promotion by a brand’s customers.
Instagram’s visual focus makes it especially compelling for
brands in the food, fashion, sports, and travel categories.
Instagram can drive sales through several mechan-
isms, many of which have yet to be enabled. The
pairing of Instagram’s visual medium with new methods
of conducting transactions through mobile devices,
both online and off, means that real commerce will
soon flow through Instagram.
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CONTEXT & RELEVANCE:
through which brands can reciprocate engagement and
establish authentic connections with their most passionate
and loyal customers. And this is just the start.
When consumers location tag Instagram photos and videos,
they infuse that content with local relevance. The content
is specific to a place and time — to an individual customer
moment. This is vastly different from a Tweet or photo at the
brand level. While consumers can tend to feel anonymous
among the millions of people in a brand’s global community,
the community around individual locations might number in
the thousands. It’s a more intimate and meaningful experience
for brands and consumers alike. One way to foster and build
these local communities is through the curation and sharing of
customer-generated content across the social platforms.
When brick-and-mortar brands make the connection
between location-tagged photos on Instagram and their
corresponding local Facebook Pages, it enables local
communities to scale in ways that were never before
possible. Consumers are creating and sharing high-quality
branded content that is specific to a business location.
Instagram becomes the source of relevant photos and
videos for that location, and the Facebook Page becomes
the distribution channel. In other words, brands can
crowdsource much of the content for their local Facebook
pages via Instagram. This creates a virtuous cycle of customer
engagement and community building at the local level.
16 The Year Of The Instagram Strategy
Location is core to both the app and the vision of its founders.
One of the long-term goals of Instagram as a company is that
you’ll be able to visit any place in the world through Instagram
photos and videos...in real time. You’ll be able to click on a
map and see what’s happening there in that moment. This
requires that a large percentage of the content be anchored
to a specific place and time.
Instagram structures content locally through two methods.
First, users can activate location through the Photo Map
feature. This attaches a lat/long coordinate (geocode) to
each piece of content, giving users the ability to view their
photos and videos on a map and providing vital context to
these precious moments and experiences. Secondly, users
can “location tag” content, which attaches the explicit place
where the photo or video was taken. For example, one
might attach a food photo to a restaurant, a video clip to
a music venue, or a fitting room selfie to a clothing retailer.
This provides unique context for the user and her followers.
It also provides the strongest possible signal of customer
engagement for brands i.e. when customers are in the
A location-tagged photo or video means that a consumer is
present at a specific location and that they are associating
(tagging) their Instagram content with that place — the same
place where they are having a brand experience and often
making a purchase. This opens a channel of communication
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is a
location-based platform by design.
For example, the following outlines the key steps for
curating and sharing location-specific content:
A customer posts a compelling Instagram photo or video of
their local brand experience (publicly).
The brand shares the customer’s photo or video (with
attribution) to the corresponding local Facebook Page, which
goes into the News Feed of its fans. The brand is giving
the customer additional distribution and exposure for their
content. Simultaneously, the brand leaves a comment on the
customer’s photo or video with a link to the Facebook Page.
The customer goes from Instagram to Facebook and further
engages with that local community through liking, commenting,
and/or sharing. The page generates more local fans.
Customers produce more branded photos and videos of
higher quality in the hope of getting additional distribution
and acknowledgment from the brand.
Rinse and repeat.
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Instagram has become a critical
component of our local strategy.
Without the benefit of our customers’
photos, it just wouldn’t scale. As a result
of engaging with our customers through
Instagram and sharing their photos to
our Facebook Pages, we’ve realized
much higher rates of engagement, and
the quality of the content has improved
over time. Now we have customers
asking for us to share their photos to
Facebook when they post them.”
– Patrice Anderson, Director of eCommerce and Online Marketing
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
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How to location-tag an Instagram photo or video
After taking a photo, tap “Name This Location”
on the subsequent screen. Note that the “Add to
Photo Map” feature must be enabled.
Choose the location from a list of venues provided
Click “Share” and note that the location will be
included above the photo in your feed.
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Ads shown within
one’s Instagram feed
are highlighted as
This will be a photo or video that brands publish with media
spend to increase distribution. Which means users who do
not follow the brand will see the photo or video in their feed,
and it will be highlighted as an ad.
In a blog post, the Instagram team reassured its community
that its photo and video ads would not only be “creative
and engaging” but also relevant, tailored to your interests
based on “information about what you do on Instagram
Of course, this begs the question about targeting.
In addition to the personal data that Facebook uses to target
its ads, Instagram knows the brands people follow uniquely
on Instagram. It knows the hashtags people use on their
photos and how frequently. Much more than Facebook
or even Twitter, though, Instagram knows precisely where
people take their photos — where they eat, where they
shop, where they vacation. It has a much richer set of
local data and can target promoted photos and videos
accordingly. This is one of the more exciting possibilities for
Instagram’s forthcoming ad platform.
Instagram recently announced that ads are
coming. The social network enters the paid
media space with native “Sponsored” products.
26 The Year Of The Instagram Strategy
Instagram is almost entirely responsible for the mainstreaming
of this behavior, and brands have an opportunity to take
advantage of it through the promotion of branded selfies.
For context, see the wildly popular website The Chive,
where its users take photos of themselves wearing Chive
clothing or promoting the Chive brand and submit them for
publication. In exchange The Chive posts these photos on
its website, giving its users tremendous reach and exposure
— a measure of fame in a fame-obsessed culture. The result
is a virtuous cycle of customers promoting the brand and
the brand promoting its customers. Everyone wins.
Non-Chive brands can borrow from this by encouraging
similar methods of engagement i.e. taking a selfie that
incorporates the brand and tagging it appropriately. For
example, a Starbucks customer might take a selfie with their
cup that clearly shows the Starbucks logo and tag it with
#starbucksselfie. As a reward, Starbucks would repost the
photo to Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter. The hashtag,
per its design and intention, would constitute explicit
permission from the customer.
THE BRAND SELFIE
The term “selfie” was recently added to the Oxford Dictionary and refers
to “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a
smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
26 The Year Of The Instagram Strategy
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The Disneyland Instagram audience has
grown by 360% to more than 250,000
followers. What’s more, the photos posted
to the Disneyland Instagram feed receive an
average rate of engagement of 10.3%, which
is more than twice that of other major brands
on Instagram and ten times greater than other
30 The Year Of The Instagram Strategy 31momentfeed.com
Many of the photos were clearly the work of professionals,
and even the amateur photographers were producing
content worthy of the Disney brand. To put it into Disney
terms, it was nothing short of magical.
Disney Resorts also realized it couldn’t hope to compete
with the combined force and creativity of its highly engaged
follower base. To scale an original Instagram strategy of
that magnitude would require tremendous resources, and it
could never match the authenticity of guests capturing and
sharing their Disney experiences in the moment. As such,
the Disney social team decided to crowdsource the entire
Disneyland Instagram feed from its guests — a 100% UGC
strategy consisting of “re-gramming” or reposting of the best
The initial challenge was Disney legal. How could a
brand so conscious of trademark issues utilize customer-
generated content for its Instagram feed? The answer was
simple, actually. They asked guests for permission. Disney
implemented a clear and efficient approval process that takes
place entirely within Instagram. Through the comments,
Disney asks for permission to re-gram a guest’s photo. When
the guest comments back with an explicit confirmation,
Disney re-grams the photo with proper attribution.
Disneyland announced the strategy in May on its Facebook
Page. At the time, it had fewer than 70,000 Instagram
followers. The following day, Disney fans posted more than
13,000 photos with the Disneyland hashtag, a 40% lift from
the previous day. Since then, the Disneyland Instagram
audience has grown by 360% to more than 250,000
followers. What’s more, the photos posted to the Disneyland
Instagram feed receive an average rate of engagement
of 10.3%, which is more than twice that of other major
brands on Instagram and ten times greater than other social
platforms. And yet Disney Resorts has never taken or shared
a single original photo.
In considering an Instagram strategy, Disney Resorts analyzed how
its guests were engaging through the channel. The social team
found that the quality of the photos far exceeded what they’d seen
through other user-generated-content (UGC) channels.
Disneyland Official account of Disneyland resort, showcasing some of our favorite
Guest Instagrams. Be sure to add #Disneyland to your photos. http://Disneyland.com
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“ We launched our Instagram presence earlier
this year and have made it a point to engage
those who take the time to mention our
brand. Our customers are our best advocates,
and their voice is extremely important. Since
we began featuring, commenting and ‘liking’
their content on Instagram, we’ve seen a
marked improvement in the quality of user-
generated content. It’s been a win-win for
our brand and our customers.”
– Sean Ryan, Director of Social & Mobile Marketing
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JCPenney customers have posted nearly 70,000 Instagram
photos and/or videos with the #jcp or #jcpenney hashtags.
In 2013, another 5,600 photos and/or videos have been
explicitly place tagged to a JCPenney store. The retailer
began to engage with customer photos in June through
liking and commenting on them. Since then, the number
of brand-tagged photos has risen by more than 50% from
1,000 per week to more than 1,500 per week, and the
brand’s Instagram following has grown by 476%.
For its back-to-school campaign, JCPenney promoted
the #firstdaylook hashtag through Facebook, Twitter, and
Instagram. This generated more than 2,500 #firstdaylook
Instagram photos alone. Most of these were images of kids
on their first day of school, a moment that parents cherish
and look back on for decades to come.
Overall, JCPenney observed that the increase in volume
of customer photos accompanied a noticeable increase in
quality. This was attributed to the retailer’s direct engage-
ment with customers and its nurturing of the channel,
such that customers are inclined to not only share more of
their JCPenney moments, but they’re taking more care in
JCPenney has been active on Instagram since February, 2013.
The retailer started with original, behind-the-scenes images
of a fashion photo shoot, and its photo feed has evolved
to include a mix of studio product shots, launch events,
JCPenney models, and seasonal styles.
JCPenney Bringing you the quality and comfort you want with the style and affordability
you deserve! http://www.jcpenney.com
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Over the past year, Instagram has become
the most important social channel for
Barney’s Beanery. Our customers tend to be
in their 20s and 30s, and this demo seems
more engaged on Instagram compared to
Facebook and Twitter, although we manage
all of them. The Barney’s Cash rewards pilot
showed how flexible Instagram can be as a
– AJ Sacher, Regional Manager
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It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also a full
bar with countless microbrew beers on tap. The restaurants
are decorated with old license plates, hubcaps, street signs,
magazine clips, and even a full-sized Harley Davidson chopper.
In other words, copious amounts of Instagramable material.
By March of 2013, the restaurant chain had been managing
the Instagram channel, together with Facebook, Foursquare,
and Twitter, as part of its broader social strategy for nearly
a year. Given the quality of the content its customers were
producing on Instagram and its unique local dynamics,
Barney’s Beanery wanted to test a program that increased
both customer engagement and loyalty. The answer was the
Barney’s Cash (#barneyscash) rewards program.
Customers were directed to sign up for the program at
BarneysCash.com. It asked for their name, email address,
Instagram handle, and home street address. After signing
up, rewards could be earned as follows:
Customers posted Instagram photos at any Barney’s
Beanery restaurant using the #barneyscash hashtag and
earn rewards points.
Barney’s Beanery is an iconic restaurant chain in Los Angeles,
California, with locations in West Hollywood, Burbank,
Pasadena, Westwood, and Santa Monica.
Customers earn bonus rewards points if Barney’s Beanery
“likes” the photo on Instagram and additional bonus points if
the photo is shared to the corresponding Barney’s Beanery
Facebook page. For Facebook sharing, the photo also has
to be location tagged, which is proof of presence. This step
mitigated potential gaming of the program.
Customers who earn enough rewards points receive a $10
Barney’s Beanery gift card in the mail.
Rinse and repeat.
As a pilot test, Barney’s sought to enroll 50 customers in
the program using Facebook and Twitter to direct people
to the Barney’s Cash website. This goal was exceeded by
Barney’s Beanery http://barneysbeanery.com
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What wasn’t entirely expected was
that customers would share photos
of the gift cards themselves. This
generated additional engagement
and sharing. Plus, it offered proof that
the overarching objective had been
achieved: reinforcing and strengthening
the emotional connection customers
have with the Barney’s Beanery brand,
which has a direct impact on loyalty.
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Instagram has provided another opportunity
to acknowledge our customers’ passion for
Margaritaville, and we continue to explore ways
to get the most from this interactive channel.”
– Kyle Collins, Director of Marketing
Margaritaville Hospitality Group
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Recognizing the value of their local fans and followers,
Margaritaville wanted to get even more of its customers to
engage locally at its restaurants and to also understand what
stimulates this type of engagement.
Over the course of five months, Margaritaville listened to
and engaged with customers through Instagram who were
already taking photos at its restaurants by both liking photos
and replying to them directly in the comments. These photos
included those with the #margaritaville hashtag as well as
those that were location tagged to specific locations.
As a result, Margaritaville realized a dramatic increase in
customer engagement across its locations, which has led to
dramatic lifts in monthly impressions and reach, as well as
its overall social audience. In this case, the brand started by
listening and responding to customers on Instagram, which
had a significant impact.
Named after the 1977 hit song, Margaritaville has restaurant
locations across the US as well as franchisees in the Caribbean,
Australia, and Mexico. The company has additional locations
under its LandShark Landing brand.
48% total lift over five months
74% average lift per month
249% average lift per month
302% average lift per month
Margaritaville It’s a state of mind! http://www.Margaritaville.com
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Digital marketing is now a visual medium. It is driven by
photos and videos. Whether being consumed through PCs,
tablets, or smartphones, visual content is driving the bulk
of consumer engagement, and consumers are playing a
vital role in producing and distributing it. At the center of
this trend is Instagram, a mobile-first platform built for the
creation and consumption of visual content.
Instagram has now achieved significant scale. Growth is
accelerating. And the underlying infrastructure that powers
Instagram — smartphones — is becoming more robust and
dynamic with every new product cycle. The possibilities for
innovation are limitless. But first marketers need to become
familiar with the medium itself. Early investments will earn
huge returns in the form of competitive advantage as the
platform matures and integrates new ways to reach and
influence a brand’s target audience.
As 2013 comes to a close, marketers should be thinking
about 2014 as the year of the Instagram strategy and how
this visual medium can drive not only customer engagement
but quantifiable business results.
CONCLUSION ABOUT MOMENTFEED
MomentFeed provides the most comprehensive and
innovative set of tools for managing the Instagram channel
at both the corporate and local level. Most importantly,
these tools are provided not as a point solution but as part
of the MomentFeed marketing platform, which integrates
Facebook, Twitter, Google, Foursquare, Yelp, Instagram, and
a brand’s internal systems. All with a goal of driving growth
MomentFeed’s unique tools for managing the Instagram
channel include the following:
• Comprehensive monitoring of both hashtag and location
• Synchronization of Facebook local pages with their
corresponding local Instagram IDs for the purpose of
• Indexing of Instagram comments for the purpose of
listening, searching, sentiment analysis, and direct
• Identification of brand influencers and advocates
• Optimization and moderation of a brand’s Instagram
• Mobile re-gramming app to curate the best customer
photos for a brand’s Instagram feed, complete with
approval workflow process
• Mobile app for local managers or representatives to
manage Instagram and other social channels at the local
level with corporate oversight
MomentFeed launched in July of 2010. Instagram followed three
months later. This is no coincidence. The respective founders drew
inspiration from the same convergence of technology and culture — the
mobilization and localization of social media through rapid smartphone
adoption. As predicted, these megatrends have lead to dramatic shifts
in consumer attention. The Instagram mobile app alone commands
more than five hours per month from its 150 million active users.
Combined with Facebook, the two apps account for one in five of all
minutes spent on mobile. Since attention is finite, this comes at a cost
to television, print, out-of-home, and other mediums. Marketers have
to adapt accordingly. While Instagram is stealing consumer attention,
MomentFeed provides a scalable solution for marketers to connect
with these audiences and manage this highly visual channel at both the
corporate and local levels.
THE INSTAGRAM IMPERATIVE