In just the past few weeks, there has been an explosion of brands jumping on the Instagram bandwagon. Track Social has been following brands’ use of Instagram on Facebook through it’s searchable database of active Facebook apps and we have seen a continuous stream of new Instagram initiatives.

Among the list of brands that have already incorporated Instagram into their Facebook pages, a select few deserve praise for tapping into consumer creativity. What we’ve found will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever stumbled on, say the ePrize photo stream: no one cares about your Instagram photo feed.

In many cases, brands that have set-up dedicated Instagram Facebook apps are simply providing a slideshow of blandly captioned (and totally underwhelming) photos that – despite their sepia filters – utterly fail to get anyone’s attention or generate one iota of actual online engagement.

This all seems to stem from a compete misunderstanding of what Instagram is FOR.

For millions of app users, the pleasure of Instagram is the way it makes us feel like artists. The way it allows us to instantly transform the things we encounter in our daily comings-and-goings into bits of ephemera. The way Instagram’s filters – which may soon enough become passé – allow us to inject a little soft-focus mystery into our humdrum routines. The way, with the touch of a button, we can recontextualize, and thus re-enchant, the world, capturing it in a way that encases our point of view in a seemingly timeless package. Instant nostalgia.

Which is to say, we don’t want to look at your boring PR photos slapped with sepia. We want to make our own.

Through Track Social’s News Feed, we were able to pin down just when and which brands have created Facebook apps for Instagram, and even better, which are running campaigns to not only promote their brand, but also encourage fans to be proactive. Here are just two examples of innovative Instagram-ing already underway. Each offers a glimpse at how brands can harness this increasingly useful way to entice user interaction.


Saks Fifth Avenue is inviting shoppers to come into their stores armed with smart phones and find one item they can’t live without, photograph it with Instagram, tell everyone what makes it so special and why they want it, and by including hashtag #SeeUAtSaks, they could win $1,000. Why is this absolutely brilliant? Let us count the ways:

1. Social campaigns don’t always have the advantage of directly driving in-store traffic, but this one encourages both online and offline engagement by getting users through the door.

2. Every single Instagram-ed image is an instant advertisement for the product being photographed and for Saks. Not to mention, by having users describe why they want the item, consumers are essentially writing their own sales copy.

3. All these pictures and captions get posted by users on their Twitter feed for all their friends and followers to see. For $1,000, Saks gets direct access to the friend networks of its most critical target audience. That’s a picture worth more than a thousand bucks.


We’ll let Whole Foods explain:

“Each week during Earth Month we’ll select a new theme that captures one reason why it’s more critical than ever that we take special care of this world in which we are lucky enough to live. To enter, simply take a photo that fits the weekly theme with the Instagram App and upload it with the #WFMEarth hashtag. We’ll randomly select one weekly winner to receive a $100 Whole Foods Market gift card.”

Whole Foods gets it: they understand their consumers are savvy and creative – and more importantly, that they’re eager to demonstrate just how creative and savvy they are.

So Whole Foods becomes the facilitator of creativity – much like the app itself – providing the occasion and opportunity to show off, get recognition and maybe even collect a reward.

This week’s theme for those who want to show their skills: “From two feet to two wheels to shared rides, grab a pic of the host of ways to move yourself while preserving Mother Earth. ”It won’t be long before smart brands figure out that photo-sharing is a hugely powerful way to not only engage consumers, but also have consumers help market their brands. Who knows, this might just be the summer of Instagram.