The Naked Face of Instagram

In terms of online creative advertising, using Instagram is like going to a friend's house-party. It’s most effective without pretensions. Don’t get us wrong: we're not against the highly made-up, sleek atmosphere of hip nightclubs or a night on the town. But what Instagram lacks in glamor, it makes up with a raw, personal, and intimate quality that other platforms can’t replicate.

In advertising, your medium is the message, meaning where you decide to build your advertising campaign forms, to a certain extent, what the message is going to be. If you’re a newspaper-ad-only kind of company, it not only dictates what the ad’s format is going to be, but also what the company represents.

According to statistics, only 25-percent of Fortune 500 companies use Instagram. And recently, one ad got me thinking how many companies actually understand and have command over the medium to its fullest potential. A sponsored Lexus ad popped up in my feed, showcasing luxury sedans parked in front of a swanky cabin with six or seven above-average-looking models scattered around them. Well, there’s money down the drain, I thought. Although Lexus keeps a relatively robust Instagram account compared to other companies, this particular campaign is a bust because what they’ve essentially done is transplant a Time Square billboard onto a tiny smartphone screen. They overlooked taking the medium into account.

An example of a great Instagram account is that of the mega-star Rihanna. Through her account, she exposes a side of herself that is a little more intimate, at times with a lot less makeup. This gives fans a tantalizing glimpse of her personal life, and Rihanna’s brand gains authenticity that would be impossible to construct through almost any other means, be it tweets, interviews, or videos.

If Lexus were to do it right, it might have its own test-drivers or mechanics take phone pictures of the new models undergoing tests and doing laps on the company track, and release sneak peeks of exciting things to come from a more personal point of view. Fans would be granted insider access to what goes on behind the scenes, where the intoxicating smell of leather and rubber would fill their imaginations and desires.

So what does it say when a company has an active, well-maintained Instagram account? When used properly, it reveals a less guarded, relatable side, signifying that it is an honest, authentic brand that is willing to connect with customers, users, and fans in a candid manner. In other words, it imbibes brands with human connection and a face, something other platforms just can't compete with.

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