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“To Stand Out, You Have To Fit In” – Learnings From Instacamp NYC

Instagram advertising has arrived. The platform is bustling with activity, growing to 300 million users who post 70 million images daily. With high prestige, and significant penetration among upper-income clusters, marketers who use the platform properly have an excellent opportunity to drive awareness and build affinity.

After attending Instacamp NYC – a gathering for Instagram marketers, artists and visionaries – we learned a few key lessons about what “use the platform properly” really means. Let’s take a look.

Build Your Brand Before You Sell Your Stuff

GianCarlo Pitocco, chief strategy officer at Attention/Kbs+, explained during his Instacamp presentation that the platform is one of the most light-weight in digital. While this will likely change, Instagram currently sheds much of the complexity of direct response. Instead marketers are building brand equity with beautiful visuals that go easy on the salesmanship.

Instagram’s Brand Development Lead P.J. MacGregor echoed this point in an interview with Digiday, saying that the platform will “have the most impact on upper-funnel brand metrics — creating awareness, driving changes in perception and changes in consideration.” While this concept is evolving with the recent introduction of offsite linking, platform representatives insist the new functionality is to drive learning rather than sales.

The point is that brand marketers should align their Instagram strategy with what works on Instagram: not use it as another platform to deliver the same sales messages in a different way. Because as MacGregor states, if the platform “becomes a medium of redundant frequency, we’ve failed the advertiser and we’ve failed the community.”

“…to stand out, you have to fit in.”

– P.J. MacGregor, Instagram

Find A Consistent Perspective

Many of the professional photographers at Instacamp emphasized a unique perspective on their subject matter. Presenters referenced artist Murad Osmann, whose Instagram series “Follow Me To” shows the world through a central theme that keeps the viewer grounded in a consistent story. There’s no reason brand marketers shouldn’t deploy the same principles. For example, a travel brand could easily integrate a concept similar to Osmann’s, speaking to the virtues of discovery and camaraderie people find when exploring the world.


A more specific brand example is Capital One’s “What’s In Your Wallet” campaign, in which people hold up the can’t-live-without possessions they carry on their person. The people running the brand’s Instagram account maintain consistent photo quality, with the same composition, white balance, exposure, contrast and filter choice on every new installation. And while the creative evokes an emotional, human connection, the familiar tagline connects the effort back to business goals.


To conclude with another quote from MacGregor’s interview, “we fully admit that we don’t have it figured out.” While early best practices have emerged, Instagram is still for the taking. So test and experiment now as part of brand-building campaigns, preparing to scale once Instagram’s place in the larger marketing mix is solidified.

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  • Sinan Imre, Creative Design Lead

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