Instagramming Your Relationships

That coveted young generation. They are so desired yet so hard to attract due to the enormous range of entertainment options open to them both in the online and physical world. Largely inspired by visual media, Instagram photographer Dave Krugman is leading the charge in creating engaging content to revolutionise cultural institutions’ Instagram accounts and their relationships with the followers.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

When it comes to cultural institutions – galleries, museums, libraries – effective use of social media is more than just plugging shows and exhibitions to the online audience. In fact, the longer that my generation spend on social media the more desensitised we become to content directly advertising a product. This is largely due to the exponential increase in advertising and promoted posts on Facebook which have refined our skills in blocking out this unwanted material.

So how do you get around these barriers to effectively build a relationship with younger consumers without being dismissed for advertising?

Upon seeing a great opportunity for Instagram relationship building when visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), Instagram photographer Dave Krugman petitioned the institution with letters explaining the effectiveness of Instagram as a marketing tool for promoting exhibitions. It turned out that The Met’s Online Community Manager was in the process of setting up an Instagram page for the museum and the two came up with the #emptymet strategy.

This #emptymet campaign began with Krugman and a number of fellow Instagram photographer friends touring the museum after hours when it was closed. The photographers took all manner of photos which were then uploaded onto The Met’s Instagram page.

Due to the huge jump in traffic as a result of this strategy, #emptymet has taken off for the museum. Monthly tours are run with Instagram photographers generating new content for #emptymet hashtag and have resulted in attracting 187,000 followers in less than 18 months.

While this idea may have revolutionised the cultural institution’s online presence, the idea of using stylistic photos to promote attractions is nothing new. Organisations have been uploading photos online for years but often without this level of success. So what is different?

Two things:

  1. Leveraging existing connections

Social media platforms rely heavily on connections. Users find out about exciting attractions, noteworthy artists and rising trends because a friend gives their personal recommendation by sharing, hashtagging or following. Since we generally form relationship, both online and offline, with people who share our interests, chances are that the new phenomenon we have fallen in love with will attract a similar response from a number of our friends.


This organic style of development which actively involves Instagram photographers taking these photos themselves and sharing with their followings has a greater hit rate of reaching interested parties who are most likely to engage with the content.


  1. The personal touch

As we are exposed to increasing amounts of advertising, we can easily tell an advertisement or promotion from a mile away. This is why specifically shot promotional images do not work. These Instagram photographers are leveraging what Instagram does best – perception. Photographers are using their own points of view, their own idiosyncrasies and highlighting their passions through their photography. The point of the photography isn’t to create pictures that would have traditionally satisfied a PR department, the idea is to create meaningful content which deserves to be shared.

Social media is often dismissed into the ‘too-hard’ basket. But when used properly, as is done here with The Met and Dave Krugman, it can be the ultimate tool in creating lasting, meaningful relationships with your current consumers ensuring a lasting involvement with the organisation.