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Image Is Everything: Why Brands Large and Small Should Be Using Instagram

APRIL 2013 Millennial Marketing Insight from HypeLife Brands: "Image Is Everything: Why Brands Large and Small Should Be Using Instagram"

Picture this: You wake up in the morning and make yourself a delicious breakfast. You sit down, you place your napkin on your lap, you prepare to dig in. Except first you arrange everything just so, stand above the food at just the right angle and... Snap. 

If you or your brand is already on Instagram, you know this moment well. You’ve seen it a thousand times. It is, quite simply, a picture of food. That’s all. And this picture of food perfectly captures the simplicity of not only Instagram, but the Millennial mindset with regard to marketing. It’s no longer about fugue mixtures of puns and verbs and catchy phrases, it’s not about the placement of phone numbers and urls and direct response strategy. It’s about three very simple, very transparent rules:

  • Engage with the world. 
  • Do good things. 
  • Be true. 

Pictures are what they are – they capture a moment in time. They expose our flaws, they tell stories, they evoke memories. In many ways, there’s nothing more authentic than a photograph. And in today’s heavily mediated world, it’s authenticity that Generation Y craves above all else. They want a connection with the person or brand they choose to follow and they want to be a part of the story that person or brand tells. Perhaps better than any other social media outlet, Instagram is equipped to deliver on those connections. 

What’s arguably most fascinating about photo sharing applications like Instagram or Pinterest is their reliance on an idea that’s been around for more than a century: taking pictures. After all, the world we live in is messy. It’s busy and cluttered and saturated with media and messaging and 3,000 other things fighting for your precious attention. Millennials know this. They grew up with it. So it’s only natural that the thing making its way through all the clutter and into their minds is the one thing that isn’t new. 


Instagram is still the purest form of social media, mainly because it has yet to be bogged down by agendas, URLs and the guise of covert marketing campaigns. Its users, for the most part, adhere to an unwritten code that exists to maintain this purity. It’s an honest effort to keep what has become a haven for expressions of art and passion and experiences free of direct response clutter. And for these reasons, cultivating a following on Instagram may also be the best way to develop loyalty and reach the Generation Y consumer base. 

Put simply: If they dig your vibe on Instagram, they’ll dig your vibe anywhere. So, here are some simple ways to reach out and connect with Millennials simply by posting your brand’s photos.

Quality, Not Quantity
Aside from pretty much everywhere else, be selective in your posts. Editing your pictures is good. Editing your posting is better. 

Tell a Story
Instagram is designed to capture a day in the life of your brand. It’s a chance to pull back the curtain a bit and reveal its inner workings. Make sure each picture continues your brand’s ongoing story.

Save the Sales Pitch
Not the time nor the place. This isn’t the tool for shelling your latest product or service. If you’ve got 2 million followers, fine. All bets are off. But for the rest of you, save the elevator speech for the elevator.

Follow Carefully
Who you choose to follow is as important as what you’re posting. Follow those that inspire you, that do things you admire. Your followers will take notice, and this is how connections are made. 

Have Fun
If posting on Instagram becomes a chore, your followers will notice. For most, taking pictures is about capturing moments that HAVE to be shared. Your brand has these moments every day. Show us.

Zach Russell
Brand Strategist
HypeLife Brands