On the face of it, they don't seem to have much in common, Instagram and the beverage industry.
One is a hot social media company that lets users take pictures and post them on various social networks. The other is a business that is solidly entrenched in the physical world. Yet, a symbiotic relationship exists. Instagram very much wants real-world brands to endorse it, and beverage brands are always looking for the imprimatur of a hot social media technology.
The pairing of Instagram and Lipton Brisk, a PepsiCo brand, illustrates how this relationship works. Jamal Henderson, senior marketing manager for Brisk, says he hadn't heard of Instagram in late 2010 until he saw fans on Brisk's Facebook page discussing it. "We just kind of dug into that digital insight," he says.
That epiphany coincided with Instagram's own attempts to cozy up to brands. In January, the company introduced hashtags, which were designed to make it easier for marketers to carry out brand campaigns.
It worked. While Instagram has proven to be a draw, for fashion brands especially, some beverage brands have had some success as well. Below are three recent examples of purveyors of soft drinks using Instagram to spread their message. And if it can work for soda and fashion, then Instagram can be a valuable asset for any business.
1. Lipton Brisk
PepsiCo's Lipton Brisk initiated a clever use of Instagram around this year's South By Southwest festival.
In January, Brisk announced a program soliciting users' photos via Instagram. The prize? Photos selected by Brisk would appear on 4,000 Brisk cans distributed at the event. In what was clearly a case of trying to reach the right kind of consumer rather than seducing the masses, Brisk has cultivated a fairly small following on Instagram—just around 500 followers.
Are coffee mugs photogenic? Apparently. There are more than 57,000 photos tagged #starbucks, says Alex Wheeler, vice president of global marketing for the coffee giant. The brand is also the biggest on Instagram, with 117,000 followers.
"Photography plays such an important role in how we visually share Starbucks offerings and experiences," he says. "This will continue to be a great network to connect with our customers as it grows."
Starbucks changed things up this summer when it initiated the #5more tag, asking fans how they'd like to spend five more minutes of the summer.
3. Red Bull
Another innovator is Red Bull, which is using Instagram in novel ways.
For instance, the brand's 67,000 Instagram followers were the first to hear Coldplay play at the new Red Bull Soundspace studio at the L.A. radio station KROQ in October. The brand also ran a photo contest in Hawaii last month and publicly challenged Instagram user @newyorkcity to a race to 100,000 followers, in Instagram comments and on Twitter.
The prize? It was mutual, says Andrew D. Nystrom, social media manager for Red Bull North America. "We mutually agreed to let the winner post a pic on the loser's account."
(Get more tips on branding your business.)
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