API Allows Brands to Post Instagram Users’ Photos on Their Websites

Bain News Service via Wikimedia Commons

The visual marketing firm Venueseen launched an API today that will allow companies to pull from Instagram photos related to their products or events and post them on their own websites.

The API identifies photos tagged a particular way or whose metadata reveals they were taken in a particular location. The corporate client can display the photos on its own domain and customize how they are displayed. Venueseen first launched a non-API version of the marketing tool three months ago.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will use the API to run an Instagram contest promoting the Indy 500. Users who tag racing-related photos with #Indy500orBust or who upload photos taken at the famous raceway will be entered to win a paid trip to the Memorial Day Weekend race.

According to Venueseen, such use does not violate Instagram’s terms of service, despite a December user revolt stemming from fears that changes to Instagram’s user agreements would allow businesses to claim ownership of users’ photos and employ them for advertising.

“There’s been the terms-of-service discussion, but one of the things that got lost is that most brands don’t want to take anybody’s content. The meaningful part for them is actually engaging with that person,” Venueseen co-founder and CEO Brian Zuercher said.

Users whose photos are selected will be automatically notified and given the chance to opt out of having them displayed on the speedway’s website.

“The spirit of leveraging consumer content is that it remains authentic. You want viewers to actually believe that it was shared by a real person,” he said.

Arranging photos submitted by users and displaying them on their own websites allows marketers to go beyond the nebulous category of social engagement and use social content to steer consumers to real business outcomes – in the Indy 500’s case, sales of tickets and gear, Zuercher said.

It will be interesting to see whether a chance to win a trip to the Indy 500 makes Instagram users forget their discomfort at having their photos used as marketing.

Venueseen and the Indianapolis Speedway are betting it will.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time people are really excited and start sharing more,” Zuercher said.

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