By Carlo Pacis
2016 was a big year for Instagram. This year alone, the rapidly-growing media-sharing app launched new features like longer video, Instagram Stories, zoom, Boomerang and mentions in Stories, and live video on Stories.
On top of that, the social media giant rolled out a new look, updating its icon and app design early on in the year.
This past year, Instagram was integral to marketing campaigns run by companies big and small around the world.
In this article, I’ve compiled the 13 Best Instagram Campaigns of 2016, featuring some crazy, clever, and even controversial campaigns.
Our first Instagram campaign comes from Marvel, promoting the second-highest grossing film of 2016, Captain America: Civil War. Though Marvel pulled out all the stops to promote their most ambitious production to date over a number of mediums, this post stood out in its uniqueness, its strong fit to the Instagram platform, and its viral nature.
For this campaign, Marvel put together a team of 10 graffiti artists to paint Civil War’s iconic airport fight scene across the side of a building, and documented it all to create a timelapse for Instagram. This is an exciting and unique marketing strategy because it goes beyond the usual billboard and TV advertising most films do – it’s a large-scale, real-world tactic that deserves a “wow”.
As a video timelapse, it fits the Instagram medium perfectly – it’s a strong piece of visual content and it stands on its own without audio, which is important for those browsing in public. Finally, I love that it has a longer lifespan than most Instagram campaigns. Because it’s a real-world fixture, people passing by the building will be intrigued.
A big part of marketing on Instagram is looking the part. Xbox took this advice to heart when designing one of their marketing campaigns for the Xbox Design Lab, which allows gamers to design an Xbox controller with custom colors.
Xbox shot a series of images in the popular “flat lay” style (also known as knolling) to show off various color combinations. The flat lay style has become ubiquitous on Instagram, primarily in photos of clothing, desk setups, and food, and Xbox takes this to the next level with this campaign.
These photos are great because they’re so Instagram. They don’t look like something copy-pasted from a Facebook post or some hero image on the Xbox site – they’re uniquely crafted for Instagram as a medium with the users in mind. Each photo is beautifully color-coordinated; even though the Xbox controller is central in each of them, it’s not overly emphasized. It’s just the right amount of promotional.
This campaign is also wonderful because it shows Microsoft understands their target demographic. Each of the posts addresses a specific subsegment of Xbox players, whether they’re athletes, gaming aficionados, artists, intellectuals, or speed demons. By targeting each demographic individually, Xbox found a way to maximize engagement on each of their photos.
Finally, Xbox used a hashtag, #MakeItYours, to tie all of these images together, creating a single cohesive campaign.
Batman v Superman
The other (admittedly less well-received) big superhero-versus-superhero movie of the year also found great success in its Instagram marketing. In the days leading up to the film’s launch, its official Instagram account posted several stills from the film with quotes from reviews by trusted publications like Rolling Stone, USA TODAY, CBS, and more.
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