Last week’s NYFW Technology Firsts provided several examples of brands who made the news through the use of technology to promote their shows. While by no means new (check out Campaigns We Love: Oscar de la Renta Instagram Exclusive), this season marks the first time that Instagram was so wholly integrated into the experience, and the use of the visual platform to extend the fashion industry's reach has resulted in much speculation about the platform’s income potential and the realities of so-called earned media on the platform by brands and sponsors.
During Fashion Week, the platform experienced an incredible 25% engagement rate boost, far exceeding that of any other social media channel. According to Maureen Mullen, Head of Research and Advisory at L2, Instagram provides a valuable combination of features for those working within fashion. As both a “mobile native and highly visual tool,” Instagram is “fantastic for aspirational user generated content.” Given the digital media frenzy and the engagement rates Instagram drew during NYFW, it’s no wonder that advertisers, marketers, and PR representatives alike are drooling over the possibilities the channel creates for reach. Moreover, with large-scale online publications like The Huffington Post and The New York Times featuring on a daily basis their respective NYFW Instagram favorites, there’s a lot to be said for the potential reach of a single Instagram photo.
However, a recent Business of Fashion op-ed questioned the legitimacy of the "earned media" that brands reported during fashion week, citing Instagram images posted on the day of designer Prabal Gurung’s show: a bottle of Evian (a sponsor of his show) and a backstage display of catered food from Wichcraft NYC. While giving sponsors some love through photography is nothing new, perhaps the rules for transparency and disclosure should be attended to more closely.
Opportunities for more traditional modes of advertising on Instagram have not gone unnoticed by the company itself. Instagram, owned by Facebook, recently announced that it would also be rolling out advertising to benefit from its growing user-base (approximately 150 users). So what was once a creative space for selfies, brunch photos, puppies and sunsets, may in time, come to look more like the September Issue of Vogue with significant feed interruption from brands (similar to what we are experiencing in our newsfeeds today).
As capitalism sets its paw upon our favorite filters, it's good to remember best practices to make the most of Instagram, and that engagement versus interruption marketing will be more valuable to building sturdy relationships, in the long-term. What role is Instagram playing in your PR campaigns? How do you treat event sponsors and brand ambassador issues of transparency and disclosure?
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Photo Credit: arnevossfeldt