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Instagram is linchpin to mobile?s multichannel success

Gone are the days when marketers solely rely on Facebook or Twitter to drive their multichannel efforts. Instagram is becoming the new engagement channel companies are leveraging to strengthen mobile, social and television initiatives.

Companies such as Grey Goose and Taco Bell have relied on Instagram over the past few months to drive consumer engagement. More marketers are turning to Instagram to roll out unique campaigns that have a highly social element to them.

?Instagram is probably the first place many brands are venturing that truly encompasses mobile and social,? said Ron Schott, senior strategist at Spring Creek Group. ?The barrier to entry is fairly low, so the appeal of the channel is still great.

?Also, the fact that users are interacting with Instagram while they're out and about is incredibly enticing,? he said. ?Brands can deliver content to consumers when they're potentially in the position to make a purchase decision, and that's the whole point."

The reign of social
Social marketing is moving quickly toward an image-heavy focus.

Take Facebook, for example. Before the social media giant bought Instagram, its site was already image-heavy.

Instagram not only offers brands the chance to tell their story through pictures, but makes sharing those images to other social channels incredibly easy.

Grey Goose recently drove awareness for its Cherry Noir vodka with an initiative that incorporated Instagram and Pinterest.

The Hotel Noir campaign featured content that spanned across all Grey Goose digital channels.

By using Instagram, Grey Goose was able to connect with consumers on a deeper level.

Most recently, Taco Bell used Instagram to help promote its new line of Doritos Locos Tacos.

The initiative offered consumers a chance to win prizes by snapping pictures of their favorite meals. By adding an incentive, Taco Bell aimed to get as much participation as possible.

?Sharing and engagement on Instagram are incredibly easy and that's huge when looking at reach for brands,? Mr. Schott said. ?Mobile and social are going to continue inching closer together. Look for Facebook, foursquare and others to offer more options for marketers that bring brands and consumers closer together at the intersection that means most ? when consumers are in the right physical and mental space to make a purchase decision.

?That takes combining location, behaviors/preferences, and offers/deals in order to deliver user-specific content that connects,? he said.

Mobile success
According to Kerri Smith, director of mobility at iProspect, mobile is the ultimate linchpin of integrated marketing, reviving the relevance of traditional advertising by enabling interactive elements in static media and bridging multiple experiences together.

Platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are compelling because they let brands see firsthand how their products are experienced in consumers? everyday lives.

?Smart brands will take advantage of these valuable insights to evolve products to make them more relatable to their customers, better address their needs and enable the sustainability of their brand,? Ms. Smith said.

?What makes these platforms so successful is that they allow consumers to become a part of the message,? she said. ?Younger generations are all about finding their individual identities and brands that make consumers feel empowered and celebrated will gain their loyalty.?

Mobile and social are a powerful pair for marketers, but require careful planning and an integrated approach to reach their full potential.

?As more brands become active in this space, we?ll get to see examples of both incredibly powerful executions as well as those that leave us wanting more,? Ms. Smith said.

?Most importantly, we?ll see brands and agencies learn from these experiences and the result will be an exciting progression of marketing strategy where brands and consumers can create together,? she said.

Multichannel success
While Instagram is a great platform for brands to push visually arresting content to mobile users, it's not a linchpin for mobile success by any means, per Richard Goldsmith, director of mobile and social platforms at R/GA Chicago.

According to the executive, for some executions and programs, Instagram is a critical component.

For others it just will not make strategic sense.

?The linchpin for mobile multichannel success is always going to be executing on the right strategy ? not a particular platform ? no matter how dead sexy that platform might be,? Mr. Goldsmith said. ?Instagram represents a chance to reach an extremely engaged community of highly-mobile and desirable consumers in a non-disruptive way that's easily pushed to other social platforms.

?Add to that the relative ease of producing and delivering beautiful content via the platform - something that's usually difficult and expensive for brands - and you've got a recipe for some serious and very justifiable interest in the platform,? he said.

2013 is going to bring a different approach as mobile and social spaces turn toward full integration.

As mobile devices increasingly become the primary method for accessing information, it will be more important than ever that brands take that platform into account as a primary access point.

?That doesn't mean a mobile-first approach ? that means an everything-first approach, using responsive design and a new breed of CMS that can deliver content and a full-featured experience that makes sense across any platform,? Mr. Goldsmith said.

?As for social, we're going to see a more integrated approach across the board ? leveraging and even combining social data pulled from a variety of platforms to deliver real value to consumers through their engagement with our brands,? he said. ?Programs like Grey Goose Hotel Noir are just the tip of the iceberg as we work to create platforms that help participants be smarter and tell their stories in relevant ways through our products and services.

?Sure, we'll still see campaigns that place the focus on the brand and ask people to upload videos, share stories about products and otherwise carry overt brand messaging, but we'll see dramatically diminishing returns from those as consumers get more savvy and look to gain far more out of the brands they associate with in social spaces.?

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York