The $1B acquisition of Instagram by Facebook a few weeks ago is testament to how valuable digital space is in the 21st century. Brands of all different natures are jockeying for additional awareness across a multitude of social networks. 50 million users have downloaded Instagram, for free – and that’s not stopping anytime soon, gaining approximately five million more users per week. Like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, Instagram has become a creative vehicle for communication and interaction, globally.
Everyone from Kim Kardashian to Cole Haan to the Boston Celtics have Instagram accounts. I recently attended a concert series called Cosmic Opera that ran a contest in which Instagram users who tagged #CosmicOpera and posted theatrically dressed photos of themselves at the show could win tickets to future concerts. And thanks to the application, I can wake up on Monday morning knowing that electronic music artist Skrillex ate mashed potatoes and asparagus on his tour bus in Dublin at three AM, then smoked a cigarette.
All this begs the question: Does having an identity (like Skrillex or Cosmic Opera or even Joshua Books) in the digital space make you a “brand,” and are your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn accounts extensions of your master umbrella-brand?
I believe the answer is, yes.
Uploading an image to Instagram freezes time. Using a hashtag connects your story to your brands in the digital space. In a sense, we are transcending the way traditional marketing has operated. Sharing these photographs makes the brands and the stories we tell real, relevant, and current.
After using Instagram extensively for six months, I have built up a portfolio of over 400 photos and 150 followers, half of whom I don’t even know. Although these users do not pay to witness my above-average-iPhone-4S-camera-skills, they are investing their own time to follow me and include my photographs on their Instagram “timeline.”
For their viewing pleasure, they have essentially bought my brand.
Which leads me to another question: If we really all are brands, who are we selling ourselves to? Friends? Family? Popular Culture? Employers? Mark Zuckerberg? Or are we just channeling our creative curiosities that Instagram has helped us discover?
Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves (and your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and LinkedIn followers). And by the way, the W Hotel is holding the first ever NYC Instagram Exhibtion this month.