Author   |    Speaker   |    Chief Content Officer

I talk a lot about using social media for storytelling (rather than simply sharing), and I also talk a lot about creating content that’s useful, inspired and empathic to the needs and wants of the people you want to reach.

Inherent in all that is the idea that you should reach people where they are – which might not be on your own website.

Which is why I love this Instagram program from Mercedes-Benz, created as part of a larger program to promote its new 2015 GLA.

(I’m particularly grateful to my friend Dave Cutler, who generously shared it with me.)

Mercedes is looking to reach Millennials, and the program, Build Your Own GLA, allows potential buyers to assemble a custom automobile on Instagram by choosing color, wheels, roof, grill options, and so on…. in one of 132 possible combinations. Merecedes worked with Razorfish on the program.

The idea is that you click-through a series of linked images on the platform, giving the campaign a kind of down-the-rabbit-hole romp:

It’s clever and feels a little magical. Take a look here:

This works for four reasons:

  1. It’s a great way to reach tire-kickers (literally, in this case!) where they are, on Instagram.
  2. It evolves the idea of a familiar Build Your Own web tool and gives it a fresh, innovative, social spin.
  3. It works because it tells a visual story of the highly customizable GLA.
  4. It works because it allows buyers to essentially envision their own vehicle — the first step toward buying it.

In 2015, business-to-consumer marketers are looking to learn how to tell visually stories in more engaging ways, according to research from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.

Instagram seems an obvious partner here, especially given that many B2C marketers are already on board: Instagram isn’t the most popular social channels among B2C marketers, but it’s experienced the most growth in our most recent study – jumping 17 percentage points in usage in the last year:

Instagram as the fastest-growing social platform.

Instagram as the fastest-growing social platform.

You can see the full report on Slideshare here.

In other words, Instagram still isn’t quite as popular as Pinterest or YouTube (or, inexplicably to me — Google+!). But it’s got the most momentum. That’s especially true for brands looking to reach millennials – because they love it.

(As do I, for the record.)

Which brings us back to Mercedes, and the GLA.

This is the second Instagam program from the carmaker. This summer, Mercedes launched a contest fans to pack their cars (or a similar space) with the things they carry on a road trip, to highlight the GLA’s cavernous storage area. And, of course, to align the car with a bit of an adventurous spirit.

Instagram contests are one thing. But you can’t scroll through Instagram without stubbing your toe on one. Which is why I really like the innovative of the GLA’s most recent effort, which takes what’s native to Instagram and car buying… and combines them in a wholly engaging way.

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8 Responses to Mercedes-Benz and Instagram: A Clever Way to Build Your Own Car

  1. Vahe Habeshian says:

    Smart. Gets you to imagine your own car… the first step toward actually owning one. But goes a step further by creating a virtual sense of “ownership” via the customization interaction–(tap/touch/feel).

  2. Jack Vincent says:

    My big takeaway here is your second paragraph. “Inherent in all that is the idea that you should reach people where they are – which might not be on your own website.”
    More specifically, Mercedes Benz is looking to engage Millennials, so they use Instagram as a channel.
    With so many “channels” today, I’ve been saying, “The medium is no longer the message. The message (content) is the message.”
    Of course, I qualify that, but this example of Mercedes Benz on Instagram gives me reason to qualify it even more.
    Thanks for not just giving me new information, but provoking me to think more deeply while reading!

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks, Jack. Couldn’t agree more, of course. The key to engagement is meeting customers where they are — not trying to drive them (in this case, literally!) where you want them to be.

  3. Pingback: Mercedes-Benz and Instagram: A Clever Way to Bu...

  4. Instagram and Mercedes-Benz are two of my favorite topics. I’m definitely going to check them out! My dream vehicle is a Sprinter (big family)
    P.S. IG is where I found you.

  5. Great post. But it’s surprising how often you still get content that doesn’t really work on mobile and you need to pinch and zoom to be able to use it. Specially if you try to have a customer dialog or to get feedback.

  6. Zane says:

    I really like what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the great works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to our

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