November 25, 2012 by

Instagram is this non-assuming app that is a snap to download and use on your iPhone or Android. It helps us makes the most of our increasingly busy, visual, and social lives. And people love it. According to a recent Forbes article, Instagram saw “remarkable growth” in the first half of 2012, going from 15 million users early in the year to 80 million in July. That’s a 400 percent increase in users.

Founded by two Stanford grad geeks who majored in Management Science and Symbolic Systems with a focus in Human-Computer Interaction, the inspiration they got from working at Google, Microsoft, and a few start-ups led to the big idea—an easy way to take a photo, give it a cool effect, affix your location, tag your friends, and share with the world (or at least your world) through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more. With Instagram, you can broadcast a visual experience to thousands in a matter of seconds.

That’s what the world’s major brands like about Instagram.

The Starbucks and Redbulls of the world may be obvious early adopters of the cool Instagram technology. Performers, fashion companies, and sports teams use Instagram to showcase what they do best. But savvy marketers in the halls of General Electric and other corporations are leveraging this tiny tool to make big waves in building their brands. Here’s how GE did it:

They birthed their Instagram account by sharing photos of their innovative jet engine and health care technology as “art.” Then they launched a contest inviting Instagrammers to share their photos of items that illustrate any of GE’s four main areas of innovation (moving, powering, curing, and building). Contest photos were marked by a hashtag (that groups and feeds similar photos to users) “#GEInspiredMe,” and shared on GE’s Facebook page. This allowed other Instagrammers and Facebook fans to see and vote for the best photo. The winner was flown to Germany to photograph a world-class jet engine plant. A little ingenuity and a lot of creativity helped GE emotionally engage thousands of prospective customers and  grow brand awareness and sales.

To see the more than 4,000 user photos submitted to GE, search “GEInspiredMe” from your Instagram account.

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