Are Brand Photojournalists The Next Big Thing?

Brands have been keen to the benefits of bringing in journalists to create content for some time, but now, they’re starting to utilize photojournalists, too.

A prime example is GE, a brand that’s long been ahead of the curve when it comes to content. Last Friday, September 20th, they invited six influential Instagram photographers/aviation nerds to geek out at their state-of-the-art aviation facility in Peebles, Ohio and test the world’s most advanced jet engines. Those invited included Dan Cole (@dankhole), Jessica Zolman (@jayzombie), Chris Ozer (@chrisozer), Christian Cannon (@seacannon), Michael O’Neal (@moneal) , and Adam Senatori, (@adamsenatori), who won GE’s Instagrapher contest in 2011.

To build hype for the #GEinstawalk event and increase user engagement, GE also held a one-day contest on September 4th in which they asked fans to comment with one-sentence explaining why they’re the biggest GE #avgeek.

By all appearances, #GEInstaWalk was a success. The contest garnered over 1,100 likes and hundreds of comments, and the influencers posted some stunning photography and videos on Friday. Each post got at least 2,000 likes, with some getting more than 10,000.

Whether it’s independent commercial producers, one-man-band videojournalists, or experienced photographers victimized by the collapse of the newspaper industry, brands now have access to creative talent that up until recently was locked behind the walls of big publishers and studios.”

Brands are only going to get more opportunities to engage with the 150 million-plus active users on Instagram. That’s because ads are coming to the platform within the year, in both photo and video form. No one knows what Instagram’s ads will look like yet, but they’re likely to be posts inserted into users’ streams like Facebook ads and Twitter’s promoted tweets. Brands will likely also get the option to pay to have their posts appear in a higher percentage of followers’ feeds, like they can on Facebook, and promote hashtags, like they can on Twitter. It should present a fantastic opportunity for brands to connect with users in creative ways through visual content.

Instagram aside, we’ve seen that there’s already a huge demand for visual storytellers to work on behalf of brands. Content marketing is still overwhelmingly dedicated to the written word, but brands are realizing that there are plenty of other creative ways to tell their story.

For brands looking to create engagement, visual content is an easy win. It’s no secret that photos, videos and infographics are incredibly shareable – just ask the guys at Upworthy, which has been called the “fastest growing media company in history.” Research by M Booth shows that for the top 10 brands on Facebook, photos are shared twice as much as stories that are purely text, with videos being shared a staggering 12 times as much as both combined. That’s a fairly persuasive argument for brands to dabble in visual content – to say nothing of platforms that are more purely image-focused, like Tumblr and Instagram.

And there are incredibly talented freelancers out there who can help brands take advantage of this trend. Whether it’s independent commercial producers, one-man-band videojournalists, or experienced photographers victimized by the collapse of the newspaper industry, brands now have access to creative talent that up until recently was locked behind the walls of big publishers and studios. We can’t wait to see some of the cool things they’ll do with it.

Image by Shutterstock
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