Social Media Week: Generating UGC with Instagram

This article was originally written by me for The Platform Blog.

After returning to base our lovely Instagrammers posed with their well deserved prizes

Our Instagram Scavenger Hunt event was flagged as one of the top 5 recommended events for Social Media Week London and it was a great incentive to ensure we made it exceptional, and enjoyable.

We’re great fans of Instagram here and lots of us use it personally but we also recommend it for clients because it tells a story visually, something which is often overlooked when it comes to creating digital assets.

Story telling was one of our objectives for the event; we chose the London Instagram Meetup communityas partners for a scavenger hunt to build a social footprint for us which tells people about where we live in London.  Based on Kingsway, we’re sandwiched between theatreland and the Royal Courts of Justice and surrounded by world famous architecture, statues, landmarks and even chocolate boutiques, so the area is great fodder for photography.

Scavenger hunts are an enduring favourite in the world of social media as they are fun and engaging and also a low-tech form of gamification.  Groups of people are challenged to solve a number of clues against the clock, photograph the answers and post them online.  This works well at events when groups are let loose on the locale for 30 minutes or so and return with a collection of images.  We chose Instagram as the visual platform for our event because it’s a great for producing cool looking images plus it gave the challenge a new edge.

The mechanics of the hunt were simple, sign up and show up.  Entrants were tasked with a 10 stop tour of Covent Garden and Holborn; they were given a series of cryptic clues which they had to solve and once they had, photograph the answer.  There were some really great photos along the way and the winning images were rewarded with prizes including champagne, whiskey and other goodies.  Images were posted on Instagram using our hashtag #SMW_FH with our ‘hunt leader’ monitoring proceedings from back at FH towers.  Prizes were awarded in categories including Best Photo, Fastest Team and Best Team Photo among others, congratulations to our prize winners, dianakakkarigerslondonef61,lesscherryshinesquadarturring, and onemanand.

From a UGC perspective, the activity delivered really well; 12 people joined the event and within one hour we had over 120 high quality images, tagged and posted on instagram.  This shows that getting great fresh content just needs the right ingredients to do it successfully.

Our key thoughts on what those ingredients to create successful UGC activity are:

– set your objectives and desired outcomes

– choose your platform and understand how to make it work best for you

– create a strong theme and publicise the event

– work with established social communities

– create a short burst of activity for maximum impact

– incentivise if you can and reward entrants with social recognition (tweets, likes  and so on)

– amplify content across your own digital and social channels

And finally, here are some of the images collected on the scavenger journey around WC2.

A huge thank you to all of our enthusiastic Instagrammers for contributing to such a fantastic event, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.


Platform 101: All about Instagram

This article was originally written by me for The Platform Blog.


Instagram is a free photo-sharing  social network that was launched in October 2010. The service allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it with other Instagram users they are connected to on the social network as well as on a variety of social networking services (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr). Instagram currently has 80 million registered users. A distinctive feature is that it confines photos to a square shape, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras.

Instagram is owned by Facebook after the social networking giant bought the platform for a reported $1bn in April 2012. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Founder, noted that Facebook was “committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, after the deal had gone through. Instagram released version 3.0 in August 2012, enabling users to geo-locate where the photos were taken and attach them to an interactive mapping system powered by Foursquare.

Key statistics:

– Each second, 58 photos are uploaded.

– Each second, a new user is gained.

– There have been more than 4 billion photos uploaded.

Key demographic:

The latest report from states that 70% of users are female.


Instagram is currently a mobile-only platform app, available on iPhone (since October 2010) and Android (since April 2011). There are currently no plans to release the app on Blackberry.

Best resources:

–      Instagram for Business blog

  • Explore how businesses are using Instagram through tips, brand spotlights, API examples and news from the Instagram HQ.

–      Instagram for users blog

  • See what’s happening around the world, right now, through photo features, user spotlights, photo tips and news from the Instagram HQ.

Latest developments:

New research published in August 2012 shows that 40% of the world’s top brands (as defined by InterBrand) now have a presence on Instagram. While the photo-sharing platform currently lags behind the big guns such as Facebook and Twitter, the opportunity to reach 80M+ potential customers means this will continue to rise – possibly rising to between 60-70% by mid-2013.

The top 10 brands using Instagram are very B2C focused, with strong engagement rates and large volumes of followers:

This research highlights a unique opportunity for corporate brands to be involved on the social networking platform. At present, there are very few organisations that have incorporated Instagram into their marketing strategy.

Saying that, General Electric has a pretty astonishing profile, which consists of glossy imagery focused on their innovative designs and Olympic 2012 sponsorship. GE use the profile as an extension of their other marketing communications, perfectly integrated with campaign activity and owned social media channels.

What are the key benefits?

– The social network has an audience of 80M+ users, as well as the capacity to share content across popular channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

– Visual content is a great way to reach an audience – the popularity of video and imagery content has dramatically risen in the past 5 years.

– Customers and stakeholders show greater levels of engagement when content is visual and are more inclined to share amongst their immediate community.

– Organisations can benefit from user-generated content when hosting promotional competitions and giveaways.

– Brands have the chance to offer exclusive insight into their operations, thus increasing transparency, with back-stage access to new products, services and innovations.

What are the key risks?

– Comments are not moderated and cannot be deleted – so negative comments will forever be searchable, which becomes more important were the platform to migrate to a website rather than simply a mobile-only app.

– Imagery can easily be downloaded and then manipulated free of charge – which could be used by activists or campaigners in a defamatory manner.

– Similarly, Instagram photos hold no copyright to the origin whatsoever.

– If an organisation doesn’t claim their username, a profile could be set-up and used by a member of the public or activist group in a manner that doesn’t best represent the organisation.

Social channels:

Instagram can be found on Twitter (8.1M+ followers), Facebook (1.6M+ fans), Google+ (25K+ followers) and, unsurprisingly, Instagram (7.1M+ followers).


So now that you know all there is to about Instagram, you’re ready to start shooting your own photography and telling your brand’s story. After all, there’s only one real way to understand something, and that’s to try it out!

I’m @bnfx on Twitter, if you have any questions or comments.

Top tips for a new Instagram

This article was originally written by me on The Platform Blog.

As an avid, but amateur, photographer, Instagram was like a dream come true when it hit the app store in late-2010 as an iPhone-only service. It gave me, and millions of others, a chance to share our creations like never before.


Alongside individuals, Instagram has given brands and corporate organisations a fabulous opportunity to exploit a social media channel with a huge audience reach and instant share-ability across existing Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Fast forward 21 months to the present day and the Instagram machine tells a completely different story. It now has over 50 million users and over 1 billion photos uploaded in total (that’s over 5 million every single day).

However, there have been four major developments that have dramatically changed the Instagram offering; but for better or worse?

  • Instagrammers can now login to their account and access photos via the web, a functionality that should, in theory, increase the likelihood of ‘likes’ and comments. With a website refresh, and a transfer to a Tumblr blogging format, Instagram is attempting to appeal to the mainstream, but we’ll soon find out whether this suits their dedicated hipster-army in time.
  • For all the community managers out there, Hootsuite have announced that they’ve added Instagram (and Slideshare) to their list of social networks. This means we can now line-up our photos (pre-tagged, of course) and post them at an optimum time of day. But does this mean that the ‘perfect’ time, deemed when most users are online, will now become a saturated mess and have a white-noise effect?
  • For those that like their privacy settings on, they might be concerned to know that Instagram recently had a few issues with data and that a mysterious ‘bug’ infiltrated the servers to expose everything – private or not. In the spirit of being sociable, transparency is a key issue online – but it’d be nice to have a choice, right?
  • And finally, it seems that some of the most popular #tags have been deleted by Instagram with no official announcement made as to why. This is long been a tactic by those of us who crave ‘likes’ to use common hashtags in our posts, to build resonance with our creations. But now #iPhone, #iPhone4, #Instagram and the like have all been removed. My guess is that it’s to do with the sudden influx of Android users in an attempt to level the playing field, perhaps? Or a Facebook decision…

However, as a long-term user, I can see the wider value of Instagram. It’s my platform to share my visual thoughts. It’s also a great way for brands and corporate organisations to engage and connect with a creative audience in a new environment. Exciting, powerful stuff.

Here’s one of my favourite IG photos, would love to see some of yours. I’m @bnfx on Instagram!

Instagram photography in the snow

During a recent trip to Brussels (Belgium), I was lucky enough to to visit Tervuren Park on the outskirts of the City. At the time, most of Brussels was covered in heavy snow and the park was no different.

Tervuren is also home to The Royal Museum for Central Africa – definitely worth checking out!

Hope you like the photos, let’s connect on Instagram.

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Instagram photography in 2011

This year I finally got an iPhone, and it’s the best phone I’ve ever had. There are some great apps, like FIFA12, Whatsapp, Viber, Angry Birds, Snapseed etc.

However, my favourite is Instagram and I wanted to share some photos that I’ve taken/edited. Have a look at the slideshow…

Do you have a favourite?

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I can be found on Instagram by searching ‘bnfx’… [duh!]