The moment is fleeting. You’d love for time to stop, but it doesn’t. You want the experience to linger, but you can’t hold it. You can, however, click it. And it takes only an instant.
How many of your friends and acquaintances use a still camera to record their lives? Pretty much everyone, no doubt. How many of them use a video camera? Probably a good number fewer. How about a blog, or even pen and paper? Probably only a handful. Cameras are perhaps the most universally used recording mechanisms in our lives. Next to our voices, they’re maybe the most common denominator for expression, for storytelling, for communicating what we see and feel. And we want to do that. We like to tell our stories and experience other people’s stories because they connect us, inspire us, and influence us. We are experience collectors, capturers, and sharers.
That’s why I’m not surprised that the most popular photo-sharing app, Instagram, was recently acquired by Facebook. Its popularity (nearly 100 million users) is due to a number of reasons: it’s instant, it’s simple, and, by virtue of the filters, it makes our experiences more beautiful and shareable. Instagram amplifies our photos. Instagram amplifies our lives. Instagram makes us want to express our feelings, our perceptions, and our preferences.
Then there’s the instant in Instagram. We can share our experiences and perceptions almost as they happen. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said, “At its best Instagram would be a pocket-size window to the world that will deliver a live view of what’s unfolding across the globe . . . .” Though it doesn’t show a literal live feed, it’s close enough, so close that when you see a photo within seconds of the shutter click, you feel that you’re part of the broader world, that you’re connected to a more liberal range of experience, that you’re doing more actual living.
These experiences are happening between individuals, and they’re happening between brands and people. Instagram is a powerful way for companies to connect with their fan base and expand it. Companies like GE, Starbucks, and NPR have successfully leveraged Instagram as a powerful way to connect to people.
What about Instagram for B2B? Instagram enables a company to connect, collect, and analyze consumer experiences, preferences, and perceptions of their brand. There’s little else more valuable to a company, no matter the market, size, or type. With this type of consumer information, companies can be smarter, more adaptable, and increasingly connected to their customers.