Brian DiFeo

Co-founder - Mobile Media Lab - @bridif
BY Taylor Davidson | February 23rd, 2014
Credit: Brian DiFeo

What do you do?

I co-founded the Mobile Media Lab in March 2012, the only creative agency dedicated to Instagram advertising. We create custom campaigns with brands then hire from a network of over 300 influential Instagrammers around the world to deliver those campaigns. I sell our services to a variety of clients, manage some projects, and oversee the company’s social media channels.

How did you come up with the idea for Mobile Media Lab?

I was an early adopter of Instagram and started the Meetup group InstagramNYC in March 2011. The community grew very quickly and our photowalks and weekly hashtag challenges caught the attention of brands such as Warby Parker. Around the same time, I joined 7 other influential photographers on a trip with PUMA to photograph the Volvo Ocean Race in Abu Dhabi. More brands contacted me about working on marketing campaigns once I returned, so we started The Mobile Media Lab in order to shape the way brands advertised on the platform since we understood it better than anyone else.

How do you blend the issues of photographic quality and follower reach when you are working with photographers?

Do brands want reach or quality? MML works with Instagrammers who have original, creative images combined with an engaged audience. The brands that understand the platform already know both reach and quality are important, and we’re in a position to educate the brands that don’t value these equally.

How many Instagram followers does it take to become a pro?

In terms of being “influential” on Instagram, we have a 10,000 follower minimum. We value engagement numbers just as much as follower numbers, so on most campaigns we hire a mix of influencers with audiences from 10,000 up to a million.

What’s the future for photography agents?

I think there will always be a need for photography agents because some creatives don’t want to get involved with the business side of the work. I’ve found that can be challenging to talk to clients about the value of my work, so agents take that burden from them.

What is the most interesting technological, cultural, business, or artistic trend in photography that you’re excited about?

I’m very interested to see where “influencer” as a marketing tool, or native advertising, is headed. I was one of the first Instagrammers to use my audience for work (Newport Folk Fest 2011, PUMA trip, Fashion Week February 2012), and since have built a company that relies on this trend. I’ve seen the value, and effectiveness, of someone who takes compelling images, grows an audience, then introduces sponsored content that fits well with their feed. This is also happening on blogs and Vine, and will probably translate to the next content-focused social network.

Follow Brian DiFeo at @bridif on Twitter and Instagram and briandifeo.com.