When Apple launched its Instagram account, rather than posting shots of products, it dedicated the account to the creativity of iPhone photographers around the world. The world’s biggest brand made its branded account about iPhone photography, not ads. From established photographers, to people with no more than a hundred followers, Apple elevates the voices of its users through the lens of iPhone. With spotlights, creative briefs and showcases, Apple actively inspires people to take more photos and participate in a larger community — expanding the definition of photography and creativity for its four million followers worldwide.
Apple’s Instagram is a branded account dedicated to elevating the voices and creativity of people from every corner of the globe — they only need to tag #ShotoniPhone to take part. It is an account dedicated solely to iPhone photographers and their perspectives on the world. Apple’s Instagram account is 100 percent user generated content. By curating unique content in new ways — through photographer spotlights, creative briefs and showcases, global collaborations, topical posts, and stories — Apple is actively inspiring people to take more photos and participate in a larger community, greater than the sum of its parts. Community briefs and showcases inspire and challenge the #ShotoniPhone community to go out and take more photographs based on a theme — such as #TheBlackandWhiteSeries and #TheLightSeries — resulting in an active creative community constantly taking photos with the potential to be featured on the account.
The iPhone camera is an important driver of upgrades and Android switchers. Therefore, it was critical to have continual messaging about the human benefit the camera provides, such as the creative output. In 2015, Apple launched “Shot on iPhone: World Gallery,” but as time went on, competitors began releasing similar campaigns. Apple needed to once again reclaim the creative high ground-while also rejuvenating “Shot on iPhone” for a new, more participative era where people want to be part of the movement, not just an out-of-home ad campaign.
Apple put community first, by increasing the participative nature of “Shot on iPhone” on the world’s most participative photo-sharing platform: Instagram.
But, we had to launch “@apple” from scratch, seven years late to the platform; Instagram users expected instant value, before following and contributing. So in order to make the launch about the Apple community, not the company itself, Apple celebrated everyone, from the amateur, to the professional photographer by turning on the account with a page full of nine unique carousels, each with their own unique user generated content, and an intention film as the centerpiece which proclaimed Apple’s goal to the world.
Once the first 48 hours had passed, it was time to start engaging with the community, challenging them with “community briefs.” These briefs were open calls for users to submit their best images on a given subject, the first challenge being “Water Brief.” These briefs are a core tenet of the community, happening biweekly, with a refreshed creative perspective and challenge every time.
“@apple” needed to remain strictly for, and by the community. This meant no cross promotion, no homepage placements, no press release, no outside sources — just the creative collective which thrives on Instagram.
“@apple” delivered 562 followers per minute on day one, with over one million in the first month. In the first week, the company saw a 27 percent increase of #ShotoniPhone lifetime usage, with over 200,000 uses, more than the total lifetime usage of its competitors, Google’s #TeamPixel & Samsung’s #ShotFromTheGalaxy.
The first community brief, #TheWaterSeries, earned over 10,000 submissions in a week, 81 percent more than the two “Instagram Weekend Hashtag Projects,” posted during the same time. The success continued, with week two engagement rates above 6 percent while its competitors earned on average less than 1.2 percent. Apple broke all paid media expectations from Instagram by reaching 64 percent of all users on its platform during the first 24 hours of going live.