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Instagram and luxury brands – a match made in heaven?

Instagram requires no introduction. Since launching in 2010, it has grown so rapidly and acquired such a vast and loyal user base that it is one of the few social networks whose name has made it into everyday English (it’s even a verb, depending on who you talk to). And Instagram’s star has only continued to rise in the aftermath of its acquisition by Facebook – while once the private domain of iPhone users, it is now compatible with any Apple or Android device.

Some users have expressed concern over plans to introduce native advertising, which the official Instagram blog has attempted to assuage by saying that the intention is to “focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community.”

And according to Steve Olenski at Forbes, “there will be no shortage of brands chomping at the proverbial bit to be part of the ‘small number’… Instagram’s growth has been so substantial that it now rivals Google and Pinterest in terms of brand adoption.” Olenski based his assertion on a recent study by Simply Measured, which indicates that brand adoption on Instagram is up 40% on last year.

Another salient point highlighted by the study is that automotive, media and luxury brands dominate in terms of engagement on Instagram – and these engagement levels are continuing their growth. Brand engagement has increased by 350% in the last year, due to more and more brands embracing the platform as a means of reaching their followers.

So why are brands flocking to Instagram, over other apps and networks? The first and most obvious answer is that lifestyle and luxury brands want to tell inherently visual stories (which is also why many brands are establishing a presence on Tumblr). An extract from the study suggests that “aside from the 150 million users, Instagram offers an extremely intuitive interface… Instagram also gives brand marketers the ability to share their advertising collateral in an organic way, doubling down on the assets they’ve already invested in.” A guilt-free way of recycling content, and by extension, their budget? No wonder marketers are excited.

Of course, these are the marketing teams at some of the world’s leading brands, so it is reasonable to assume that there is a more solid strategy behind this opportunistic behaviour. Instagram’s advertising plans have been common knowledge for almost a year now, after all. It is more than likely that, once Instagram starts rolling out its native advertising features, it will turn to the highest performing brands on the platform, i.e. the brands that have been laying the groundwork.

So who can we expect to see in the first wave of luxury ads on Instagram? The top ten luxury brands on Instagram right now, as gaged by follower count and volume of hashtagged posts, are:

  1. Michael Kors
  2. Gucci
  3. Louis Vuitton
  4. Burberry
  5. Louboutin
  6. Marc Jacobs
  7. Prada
  8. Ralph Lauren
  9. Versace
  10. Armani

(Statistics provided by The Nitrogram 50.)

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