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Instagram for PR: 4 Campaigns to Spark Your Imagination!

“Images represent a new currency in communications.” Shel Holz.

Do your public relations campaigns target Millennials and Gen Nexters? Then you need to include Instagram—front and center—in your strategies. Instagram, the mobile platform used to share photos and 15-second videos called “Instavids,” attracts heavy usage from the 18-29 year old demographic.

Millennials and Gen Nexters prefer images and video over words. And, they’re on Instagram.

Described by Pew Social Trends as the history’s first “always connected” generation, this demographic is notable for its use of social media and digital technology. According to Pew, they treat their multi-tasking hand-held gadgets almost like a body part and “…more than eight-in-ten say they sleep with a cell phone glowing by the bed, poised to disgorge texts, phone calls, emails, songs, news, videos, games and wake-up jingles.”

Consider these 2014 Instagram stats gathered by jennstrends.com:

  • 17 percent of all online adults use Instagram
  • 37 percent of 18-29 years olds use Instagram
  • 18 percent of 30-49 year olds use Instagram
  • 57 percent of Instagram users access the site daily
  • 35 percent of Instagram users access the site several times a day
  • The average Instagram user spends 257 minutes a month on the site
  • Instagram engagement is 15 times greater than that of Facebook

Stories that were once told in words are now being told with images.

Public relations professionals are using Instagram to supplement traditional methods for new product introductions, event promotions and to announce new hires and corporate awards. In the education sector, universities are showcasing campuses and highlighting school events and student activities on their Instagram channel. Celebrities connect directly with their fans and manipulate public opinion. People, and organizations, are using Instagram to raise public awareness on social causes and issues.

Still need some ideas? You’ll find them in the following examples of successful Instagram campaigns.

NBC News

NBC News Instagram

The official NBC News Instagram account is used to share photographs and videos shot by the NBC news team. NBC News uses Instagram to tell its stories and creates hashtag campaigns to encourage interaction and engagement. Managed by NBC’s @JonSweeney, the account has 1,069 posts, 397,153 followers and is following 172 other Instagram users. NBC uses Instagram as a central tool in its #SeekingMainStreet campaign, where it asks the public to share images using the hashtag to express what Main Street means to them. The #SeekingMainStreet campaign is also featured on the NBC News website with expanded stories, images and social updates. 

Charity: Water

Charitywater - Instagram for PR

Charity: Water describes itself as a nonprofit organization on a mission to bring clean safe drinking water to every person on the planet. Its Instagram showcases images of water, children drinking and playing in water and the many uses for clean water. The Instagram channel also showcases photos of fundraising efforts, pleas for donations, and highlights the fact that 100 percent of its donations go to funding water projects. The channel links back to the charity’s website, where further information is available. The Charity: Water Instagram channel has 987 posts, 218,083 followers and is following 2,136.

University of Southern California

USC - Instagram for PR

The University of Southern California’s Instagram channel is used to communicate directly with its students, alumni and staff and helps to foster a sense of community. One campaign that worked very well was its USC Valentine’s Day Photo Challenge in 2013, where followers were encouraged to submit photos that show what they love about the school and tag them with the #USC hashtag. The campaign was promoted on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The campaign produced images of couples who had met in college, their children, alumni and “Tommy Trojan” the university’s mascot. The USC channel has 320 posts, 8,043 followers and is following 144.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker - Instagram for PR

Warby Parker, an upscale and popular eyeglass manufacturer, is well know for its effective use of Instagram, which has included hosting the #warbywalks throughout NYC. Warby Parker fans are invited to join the walks by signing up on Eventbrite, tag their photos using the hashtag and post them to Instagram, Twitter and other social networks. The walks have evolved to include scavenger hunt aspects, allowing participants to “find” prizes. The Warby Parker channel on Instagram links back to the brand website, has 1278 posts, 121,647 followers and is following 121 other accounts.

Instagram is ideal for communicating and building relationships with your target audiences using both photography and video. Especially, but not only, when your target audiences are Millennials and Gen Nexters.

If you’re wondering how to get started on Instagram, download the Vocus Cheat Sheet: Instagram for Marketing and PR, which offers seven useful tips on getting started.

Image: Aleks Grynis (Creative Commons)

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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