The Rabbit Feed on Instagram - 2.0 | Instagram | Twitter

The Rabbit Feed - The Instagram edition (Updated April 2012


The Rabbitfeed on Instagram
In May 2011 we devoted the first of our 'Rabbit Feed' guides to different social networks, to Instagram, a then new photosharing network with eight million users, that only worked on Apple 'iDevices' (iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads). Fast forward to April 2012, when the 28.7 million strong network finally opened its doors up to the Android market. To mark this milestone, we've revisited the Rabbit Feed on Instagram to give an overview to any brand that might now be thinking of how to use it. 1 - What is it? 2 - What it looks like 3 - Who is using it? 4 - Why has Instagram caught on? 5 - Instagram communities and subculture 6 - What brands are using it? 7 - Metrics and measurement 8 - "But I'm not in fashion / travel / entertainment?" 9 - As a brand marketer, what should your first Instagram steps be?

have now been supplemented by a whole series of third party photo-apps where users can amend their pictures before posting. At the moment you can only post to Instagram direct via the mobile client (and most recently via the photo-app Hipstamatic as well) and indirect via a number of photo apps. A number of web based services allow you to view posts through a browser.

What it looks like

What is it?
Instagram is a mobile (Apple iOS and Android) photo-sharing network. In its simplest form, you can think of it as a visual Twitter. You post updates, though those updates take the form of pictures with a short caption instead of a 140 character message. Just like with Twitter you use hash-tags to categorise your post. Just like Twitter most accounts are public with only a minority of users having made them private. And the follower / following relationship doesn't have to be mutual. Like Facebook you 'like' posts and can comment on them. Unlike with Twitter there is no equivalent of the retweet, though a third party web service called Statigram does make it possible in a round about way. However, what made Instagram stand out from the start was a series of in-app filters. These filters can alter or enhance your photo in different ways. The in-built filters Both the Android and Apple iOS versions have similar navigation and screens. This includes a tab showing your feed - posts from people you follow. A button to upload images. A popular page tab (or tab in the app), showing which posts are popular at any one time. And your own profile and notifications tab. Once you upload an image you can share it via Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare (using the geo-tagging function), Tumblr and Flickr, provided you have synced your accounts. With the exception of hipstamatic, the Instagram app is currently the only way to directly post photos onto the network.

Who is using it?
Started in October 2010, Instagram hit eight million users by May 2011 meaning it already had a faster growth trajectory than either Facebook or Twitter at similar development stages - and despite being an Apple only network.

base will immediately double, 50 million users by year end is entirely feasible. As well as a large user base, Instagram shows a high level of engagement. At SXSW Kevin Systrom claimed that 67% of users had logged on the previous day. By comparison, Twitter's active user base is around 25% of total sign-ups.

Why has Instagram caught on?
Instagram's huge growth is down to a number of reasons: 1 - Everyone who owns a smartphone (now 51% of UK mobile phone owners) now owns a camera as good as the best cameras on the market a few years ago. The top source of photos for the giant photo sharing site Flickr is iPhones, and recently Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection and will no longer be in the camera business. Mobile photography is democratic. 2 - Related to that, it is accessible. At SXSW Kevin Systrom mentioned that he couldn't get his Dad on Twitter but he could get him on Instagram. Taking photos was something his Father already did - he was asking him to adapt existing behaviour and not create totally new behavioural patterns. In December 2011 it hit fifteen million users, and in March 2012, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom announced 27 million users at the SXSW industry conference in Austin, Texas. On the morning of April 2, we did a count for a client presentation using Instagram's API and estimated the network at 28.7 million users. Android was announced in the afternoon of 3 April (European time), when we did a new count at noon on 4 April, numbers stood at 32.1 million, meaning it had added three million users in two days - the vast majority of those 3+ million new users will have been post the Android announcement Instagram is now the biggest mobile only social network worldwide (a few country specific networks in China have more users). Though different android / Apple iOS user behaviour (Apple users account for most mobile web activity) means you can't just take Android and predict that the user Kevin Systrom said that Instagram was cross-generational and, being picture led, worked across languages and cultures too. Indeed, one of the first things we noticed about Instagram was that the early adopters weren't the usual suspects who flooded to Google+ when it opened up. It attracted a genuinely new audience, many of who didn't use any social networks outside of Facebook 3 - The filters were a huge innovation, allowing anyone to make an ordinary picture extra-ordinary. It's added what can almost be described as a gaming element with users looking at new ways of doctoring their pictures. An eco-system of thousands of photography apps now work in support, allowing you to do everything from add light flare effects to making your image look aged. One of the most popular apps, Camera+, had made $5 million via the Apple iTunes app store by the beginning of the year.

4 - There is an active community of superfans and influencers who run everything from competitions, edit challenges and real world meet-ups. In a relatively short period of time, a very distinctive subculture has grown among Instagram's most dedicated users that is different to what you find on other social networks.

different destination photos. 750 edits have been uploaded, each shared on users’ feeds, and bmi has more than tripled its Instagram following as a result. Instagram groups. A number of groups exist within Instagram that mix challenges, tutorials, community support and pop sessions (see below). One of the most well know is 'Rebels United.' Others include 'Implus' and 'Gang Family.' Pop groups. Instagram has a popular page or tab. Getting on there depends on having a very large number of likes within a short amount of time, usually 50-100 in ten minutes. As that's impossible for 99% of users, a number of pop groups have sprung up. These are closed accounts where you apply to follow. The groups post at a designated time and all post together, using secret hash-tags to like every post in the group.

Instagram communities and sub-culture
At SXSW, Instagram's founders talked about two different types of Instagram user. The majority who use it as a visual life stream or news feed. And the minority, representing Instagram's most committed users, who see it as, in Kevin Systrom's words "performance art." The latter group manifests itself in a number of different ways, for example through: Edit challenges. There are regular edit challenges on Instagram, where a picture is posted and users are invited to change it as they see fit. One of the most popular edit communities is one run by a French pastor on @applified. Every night he posts a different image from France and every day, people think of new and creative ways of changing the picture and uploading an edit.

Most pop groups members tend to see the whole exercise as a group challenge as opposed to a popularity contest. They also claim to post high quality images with the aim of taking back the 'pop' page from the teenage and cat photos that often make an appearance there. Instagramers. The best known Instagram community is the "Instagramers" - Set up by Phil Gonzalez in Spain, Instagramers now has hundreds of chapters worldwide. They

Rabbit client, British Midland International (bmi) has over the past month been running a weekly #bmieditchallenge featuring

organise challenges, as well as real-world meet ups and photo-walks. The London Instagramers group created Europe's first Instagram exhibition in October, which Rabbit supported, and we've been working with the groups on a campaign for low-fares airline bmibaby which has seen over 30,000 destination photos being uploaded and tagged.

#shapes, all apparent Fiesta brand attributes. The campaign was supported by advertising and had 16,000 responses GE - At the end of last year GE ran a competition for a full time “instagrapher” under the tag #geinspiredme. GE also has a lighting photo app, and uses its feed to visually showcase the business.

bmibaby - myeurope. This is an going campaign we've been running since August to bring bmibaby destinations to life. Rather than launch the competition into the wild, we worked with local Instagramer groups with the countries taken in rotation. Essentially working through Instagramers, users had to upload and tag their favourite destination photos for each country.

What brands are using it?
Many of the early adopter brands were as you'd expect in fashion, the media, retail and travel. This includes Starbucks, Red Bull, Burberry, Ford Fiesta, MTV and (in travel) Rabbit client bmibaby. A few examples of how brands used it are as follows: Puma - flew core Instagram and Tumblr users to Abu Dhabi to visually document the Volvo Ocean Race, tagging them #marmostro (the name of Puma’s boat) Ford Fiesta - Ran a six week competition to win a car. This integrated Facebook and Instagram. The categories for posts included #starting #hidden #listening #entry #music

The campaign has also included a series of Instameet exchanges and a series of visual inspiration guides using the images on the bmibaby website. As of March 2012, we had 30k+ pieces of user generated content submitted

Metrics and measurement
There are a few Instagram web viewers that allow you to view posts, and also manage your account (but not post direct to Instagram). One is Statigram, which also gives you basic metrics including top followers, average likes and comments per post and best time to post.

#powerlineporn (pictures of power lines) 8143 images #buildinglover (people who love buildings) 11094 images #foodporn (an Instagram favourite) 636,164 photos #computer 32,692 photos #streetsign 5264 photos Statigram has also tried to solve the problem of the lack of a repost function by allowing you to 'repost' an image in a round about way - you send a image with a repost logo to yourself and then upload it via Instagram. #cat 1,730,793 pics - OK, no surprise there! So what should you do?

"But I'm not in fashion / travel / entertainment?"
One of the most common comments we get is 'but we're not visual.' We believe every business is not only visual, but should have a visual social media strategy pulling in the other two main image led social networks, Pinterest and Tumblr, as well. For example, take a look at the huge range of objects being featured on Instagram, some truly weird and wonderful:

As a brand marketer, what should your first Instagram steps be?
1 - Create an account and get to grips with Instagram yourself. Nothing beats first hand knowledge and the fact that many of us at Rabbit have been enthusiastic Instagram users and really understood the communities, proved key to the successes we've had 2 - Reserve your brand ID. The same strategy as other social networks applies, take your brand ID before someone else does so. Right now there have been no examples of brand-jacking, but it is not a question of if but when. Given the saying of a picture says a 1000 words, were it to happen it could be highly embarrassing for the brand in question 3 - See what people are taking pictures of. As we've said, if you don't think your business is visual, you are mistaken. The range of things people take pictures of on Instagram is huge, the chances certainly are that some tie into your business 4 - Take a look at what other brands are doing for best - and worst - practice. Plenty of brands are now on Instagram for you to follow and assess what they are doing 5 - Put together a visual strategy for your business, not only encompassing Instagram but also Flickr Pinterest and Tumblr. How can your brand be brought to life, beyond

standard photos of the CEO shaking hands to seal a deal that no one is interested in? Finally, if you want us to advise on a visual strategy for your business and how Instagram can work for you, email us! Rabbit Library Looking for more resource documents and presentations?   We've grouped them all in the Rabbit Library where you can view and download them.

We’re a young (February 2010) agency that this year has already won six industry awards, and counting. As a social media ideas agency, we look at the different ways in which online social tools can be integrated into organisations. Want to know more?  Visit us at, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or email Viewing the the html version and want to sign up to get this by email?  Sign up at

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