More than 13% (Q2, 2013) of the Internet is addicted to Instagram, the mobile photo sharing network. The Facebook acquired network today has 200 million monthly active users (Q1, 2014) and 7.3 million average daily active users. The simplicity of the app and the beautiful filters has made smartphone users share their creativity with the help of hashtags.
Today Instagram is more than a photo sharing network; it is a community of like-minded folks. Their varied interests have led to the formation of thousands of city wise Instagram groups that are bridging the online-offline gap.
Formation of Pune Instagrammers
Pune Instagrammers is one such group started early this year with the motive of bringing creative people, photographers and Instagram lovers like me, under one roof. I first came across the group month back, when I started exploring Instagram. The six-month-old Pune Instagrammer group has more than 3104 followers and is gaining popularity with time.
“Pune Instagrammers is a Pune based Instagram community started with an aim to create a group where like-minded people can come along and share their interests and knowledge. We organize Instawalks in our city and many other fun events for our members,” said Manali Parmar, co-founder at Pune Instagrammers.
The final year law student whom I met along with her co-founder Umang Oswal, have been in Pune for the last seven years with a growing passion for photography and travelling. “We came across the group called Mumbai Instagrammers and we thought that one could build an Instagram community anywhere. So we thought that even Pune should have such a community and that led to the formation of Pune Instagrammers.”
Umang, who is right now pursuing his BBA, wanted the group to evolve from just Instagram lovers to photographers and all creative minds in Pune.“We wanted the group to be multi-platform, so after opening up the Instagram page we made sure that we are present in all other social networks to reach out to all sets of people from Pune and bring them under the group.”
With the Instagram page in place, the next focus for the team was to get the word out and get people joining the community from Pune. To begin with the co-founders started following and interacting with some of the common hashtags related to Pune such as #Pune. “Having a city name to the handle did help us a lot and that got us decent eye balls to get the ball rolling,” added Manali on the early work in building the community.
Umang further informed that the group also started posting relevant content on the page along with building excitement for the Instawalks. “We shared #PuneInstagrammers and we asked people to share their lovely pics while using the hashtag. We started crowdsourcing content and we also attached a small contest with it. However, there wasn’t any giveaway but we started featuring lovely pictures which got us a lot of eye balls.”
Instawalks and the road ahead
After two months of community building activity, the team decided to have their first Instawalk at Shaniwar Wada, Pune, on March 1st which was attended by 35 people. This was followed by a second walk on 6th April 2014. The venue for the second walk was decided with the help of a poll that was conducted on their Facebook page.
The walk started around 7.00 am with everyone assembling at Aqsa Masjid from where the team moved to Yerwada Bird Watching Point. Post that at around 8.30 am the team moved towards Aga Khan Palace and the Instagrammers took photos up to 11.30 am.
The walk was backed by contests and participants were asked to upload the pictures on Instagram and tag them with pre-decided hashtags. The winners got gifts from Kodak collections – the official gift partners for the walk.
The walk saw a turnout of more than 70 people. “The second event got a good response, was planned better from our side with good pre event coverage by DNA. The success of such events have motivated us to do more such walks and get the community growing,” shared Umang.
Pune Instagrammers is no more an idea. It has been executed well and it is drawing interest from brands who want to leverage the community and blend their marketing initiatives. While this looks good, it also calls for a fine balance between community sharing and contests spamming.
“Isn’t that the most tricky part, how are you keeping the balance?” was my next question to the co-founders. “The main aim of this group is to do something which we don’t get to do everyday. We are collaborating with brands but we are trying our best not to commercialize our events. We are associating with brands so that participants get some reward for their hard work,” added Manali.
Today the Pune Instagrammer group is working with a few Pune based social media agencies that are bringing them more avenues to work with brands. The recent Phoenix Market City Mall Instawalk was an example quoted by the co-founders.
Going further Pune Instagrammer group is going to increase the momentum, organize a lot of fun events while improving with every event at their end too. “We want to stay as personal as we can with these events and we are planning to have walks focused on some social causes in the city too,” shared Manali. Pune Instagrammers has evolved from being a mere passion; it is now as good as a startup for them, she said.
Want to be part of the community then bookmark 19th July on your calendar, Pune Instagrammers have something very exciting coming up for everyone.