It’s been a while since I took a close look at Instagram, so here are some of the latest stats:
- Instagram now has more than 800 million monthly active users.
- There are now more than 500 million daily active Instagrammers.
- Instagram now has more than 300 million daily stories active users.
- The photo and video-sharing platform now has more than 2 million advertisers.
And according to latest report from the Pew Research Center, the most popular online platforms among “teens” (those ages 13 to 17) are YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%), Snapchat (69%), Facebook (51%), and Twitter (32%). Now, most brands, influencers, and publishers target several different demographic groups beyond teens, but the Pew survey shows why it’s important for all of us to update our assumptions fairly frequently. Especially when platforms like Instagram are going through the equivalent of a teenage growth spurt.
So, I really shouldn’t have been surprised to see how many sponsors and partners ran campaigns on Instagram in May 2018. But, it was more than you can shake a stick at, as my mother liked to say. So, this column isn’t a comprehensive look at more than 660,000 sponsored videos, 107,000 brand sponsors, and 15,000 influencers and publishers selling sponsored content across different platforms. It’s a more selective look at five unique sponsor and partner pairings that are driving success on Instagram.
#1 Real Madrid C.F. for adidas Football
One of the campaigns that caught my eye was created by Real Madrid C.F. for adidas Football. The soccer team created 4 Instagram videos that got 12.3 million views in May, including this one which anticipates them winning a 13th European Cup/UEFA Champions League title and become the first team in 42 years to win the biggest prize in club football three times in a row. Which they were.
What I find fascinating about these Instavids is that they are all in English even though Real Madrid Club de Fútbol is based in Spain. Now, it helps that Gareth Bale of Wales plays forward for Real. Plus, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Champions League final. After Real’s coach, Zinedine Zidane, resigned a few days after leading the team to its third consecutive UEFA Champions League title, several managers of English Premier League clubs are being considered as Zizou’s replacement. Nevertheless, who would have thought that the language barriers for soccer fans in Europe have fallen away so completely?
#2 Ellen for musical.ly
Another campaign that grabbed my attention was created by Ellen for musical.ly. The entertainer created three Instagram videos around dance dares that got 9.4 million views in May, including this one:
Okay, I totally understand why this Instavid campaign was successful. In fact, I shared the secret five years ago in a column entitled, “What does the Fox Say? Forget the Lyrics; Watch the Dance!” As I noted back in September 2013, “Dancing has been an important part of ceremonies, rituals, celebrations and entertainment since before the birth of the earliest human civilizations. Dance is performed in many cultures as a form of emotional expression or social interaction. And it is sometimes used to express ideas or tell a story. That’s why dance is often the secret sauce that makes some videos more shareable than we might suspect.”
#3 Cleveland Cavaliers for NBA on ESPN
A third campaign that deserves to be mentioned was created by the Cleveland Cavaliers for NBA on ESPN. The team created 22 Instagram videos that got 9.4 million views in May. I won’t list them all, but they include this ode to LeBron James:
Okay, I’m a fan of the Boston Celtics, which is the team that the Cavaliers are playing against in these Instavids. And, even though basketball is supposed to be a team sport, I’ve got to admit that it seemed like the entire Celtics team was playing against one super-star throughout the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. And I guess if you had King James on your team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that he’s featured in two out of three of your top sponsored videos. Hey, your objective is to get viewers to watch the next game on ESPN and who wants to tune in to see Kevin Love? And why so many Instavids? Well, the series went all the way to Game 7.
#4 Cleveland Cavaliers for ESPN
The fourth campaign is similar, but different to the third one. It included 21 Instagram videos created by the Cleveland Cavaliers for ESPN. Together, they got 8.7 million views in May. Again, I won’t list them all, but here’s one of the top three:
Now, if you asked a casual sports fan to describe the difference between these sponsored Instagram campaign and the one above, he or she might think they’re similar. Hey, all feature the Cavaliers and the Celtics playing against each other in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. But, you may find an explanation in my recent column entitled, “Strategic Insights into ESPN’s Success in the Digital Video Era.” See, ESPN isn’t trying to engage the casual fan. They’re focused on “engaging passionate fans who love sports, really love sports, and think they’ve died and gone to sports heaven watching up-to-the-minute sports news coverage, scores, highlights, and commentary.” And passionate basketball fans can tell that the Instagram videos for the NBA on ESPN feature offense and while the other Instagram video campaign feature defense. Do you think they’ve discovered a new way to segment the market?
#5 Cristiano Ronaldo for EA SPORTS FIFA
The fifth campaign is kinda, sorta related to the first one. Cristiano Ronaldo, who also plays forward for Real Madrid, created a single Instagram video for EA SPORTS FIFA. But it got 8.6 million views!
It shows the Portuguese soccer star packing for his trip to Russia. Okay, there are some highlights of his career playing on a TV in the background. But, that’s it. He got 8.6 million views simply by packing a suitcase. Oh, he also throws in FIFA 18, a football simulation video game developed and published by Electronic Arts. Hey, his picture is on the cover.
So, there you have it. An update on Instagram and some examples of sponsored video campaigns on the platform that appear to be very successful. Let me know if you spot some others that I should check out.