How McDonald’s uses Instagram to tell its story

The fast food company is embracing images on the social Web, particularly during the London Olympics. The company’s social media director explains how.

By most accounts, 2012 is the year of the image.

Pinterest, a virtual pinboard in which users share images, has emerged as the third most-popular social network in the U.S. Meanwhile, image-sharing service Instagram—which Facebook bought in the spring for $1 billion—just surpassed 80 million users.

Brands are taking notice of the trend, and many of them have joined Pinterest and Instagram to reach new audiences (and old audiences on new platforms). McDonald’s is among these brands.

“Social media is increasingly becoming a visual medium,” says Rick Wion, the director of social media at McDonald’s. “We are frequently seeing higher levels of engagement around pictures than just text alone.”

Instagram is an image-sharing service in which users snap photos on their smartphones and apply various filters, which often makes pictures look as if they were plucked from an old photo album.

At the moment, McDonald’s Instagram following is relatively small and, in terms of Pinterest, it’s still in the experimental phase. However, the company recognizes that pictures spark interest and drive engagement.

In fact, Instagram-styled pictures, more than any others, are the most engaging images, according to Wion.

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