Eric Oldrin, creative strategy lead at Instagram speaks about the evolution of social photography as a content tool and how ad execs can leverage the platform for branding.

Content Takeover Content MarketingInstagram is perhaps one of the most popular social networks today due to its visually rich content and its ease of use. By offering a variety of photography effects, the platform has become the home for some of the most creative social media minds in the industry. But with so many brands trying to grab the limelight on Instagram, how can your ad creative stand out from the rest?

Eric Oldrin, creative strategy lead at Instagram, gives us some answers in the Q&A below. He also shares his thoughts on the evolution of social photography as a content marketing tool.

ClickZ (CZ): Tell us more about your role as creative shop lead at Instagram?

Eric Oldrin (EO): What's great about being on the Creative Shop team at Instagram is we work with brands and agencies to help them build compelling, awe-inspiring campaigns through Instagram. Our platform has become a creative canvas for advertisers, and I'm able to draw on my background in branding and entertainment to collaborate with brands across verticals and industries to build the most compelling content for the best possible results.

CZ: Many in the industry say that Instagram is changing the way brands look at online/social photography and it is becoming an alternative content marketing platform. What's your take on this?

EO: Billions of people now have a powerful phone and camera in their pocket. This is creating a profound shift: images are replacing words - people are communicating visually and using images to experience the world around them. Whether it's a local business or a global brand, businesses want to reach a captive audience and a community (Read more...) people looking to be inspired. Instagram helps them do this by enabling them to push the boundaries of their creative.

CZ: Instagram allows advertisers to play around with a variety of effects: sharpened, shadowed and brightened. How can advertisers choose visual styles that appeal to their target viewers?

EO: We're constantly inspired by the ways our community pushes the boundaries of what's possible on Instagram. Their imagination is what pushes us to continue to build new creative tools, and we encourage brands to also look to their followers and target audiences when determining their own visual identity. Taco Bell is a great example of a brand that is very in touch with its target audience, and its content and aesthetic on Instagram is the perfect demonstration of this. Last year it used Instagram to launch its new breakfast line, capturing the brand's youthful ethos in a series of sponsored posts with a retro, sun-bleached color palette.

CZ: Instagram launched carousel ads in March of this year. How have advertisers responded to this ad format so far? Any numbers to share?

EO: Advertisers have really embraced the carousel ad format on Instagram as it gives them greater flexibility to tell more complete stories around their brands, while also giving the community the ability to learn more about the brands and products they love. We've seen brands from across different verticals using the format in creative ways, from Showtime raising awareness of the season two premier of Penny Dreadful (each carousel ad featured a key character, providing the audience with the opportunity to connect with the show in a deeper way) to Banana Republic, who used carousel ads to showcase the diversity of its Spring 2015 collection and reach new customers.

CZ: What makes a good carousel ad?

EO: A good way to think about carousel ads is that they bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones - with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a 'look.' A car company might share different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. As with all photo and video ads, people who don't want to engage can simply scroll past carousel ads in their feed. In general, a strong carousel ad is driven by well-crafted ideas that enable a brand to connect with its target audience on a deeper level.

CZ: Where is social photography headed and how does Instagram keep up with the trend?

EO: Since we launched, we've seen a huge evolution in the way people communicate visually. The way we communicate is constantly evolving. What was once snail mail turned to email which turned into texting and now we're in a place today where someone can communicate exactly how they're feeling with a simple emoji. More than ever we are using images to talk to each other, to convey what we're doing, what we're thinking and to tell stories - whether it's enjoying a meal with friends or traveling to a new part of the world. The beauty of this new visual form of communication is that it defies language barriers, so we can communicate with anyone, anywhere.

As much as Instagram has been a vehicle of change for social photography, we also look to our community for inspiration when it comes to the latest trends in visual communication and creativity. These learnings are invaluable when it comes to our work with brands to ensure they're not only connecting with their audiences and keeping up with the trends, but setting them.

Homepage image via Shutterstock 

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