Making a name for yourself on Instagram, especially if you're starting from scratch, can be tough. There's a lot to be said for what makes a brand work on the platform, but if you're looking to get started, one of the best ways to learn is to imitate the greats. Here's a quick low-down on some of the brands that I think are doing it right, and what you can learn from them.
1. Nike: The Great Motivator
It may seem rather obvious to place such a household name on this list, but when you truly start examining the ins and outs of what makes people engage on Instagram, you realize that it’s not just one big popularity contest—good content still matters, no matter how big your brand.
Nike stands out because they create an experience.
Nike doesn’t just crowd your feed with beautiful product photography. Every photo they post involves human interaction with their products and tells a story. If you’ve ever played sports, watched sports, or heard of a sport—heck, if you’ve even thrown a paper airplane—scrolling through Nike’s Instagram account for even thirty seconds will make you feel as if you're a part of something bigger. Any brand that can evoke such strong, universal emotion is a guaranteed winner. And at 1.5 million followers, I think it’s safe to say they’re doing something right.
2. IKEA: The Innovator
Some brands turn to Instagram to create a personality for themselves. Some brands turn to Instagram to post company updates. And then there’s IKEA Russia, who uses the platform to innovate.
IKEA Russia stands out because they don’t play by the rules.
As this article illustrates, IKEA Russia is doing something unheard of. They are creating a product-focused website within their Instagram account that is completely interactive and user-friendly, serving as a product catalog by using Instagram's tagging features. With Facebook on the decline for its productive marketing purposes, this comes at a perfect time. I’m sure that every advertising and marketing agency in the world is right now wishing they'd thought of this first. IKEA Russia has only just opened the door of many new possibilities for using Instagram to the fullest.
3. GoPro: Everybody’s Best Friend
When it comes to photo and video technology, it’s fairly difficult for a brand to break through as a newbie and become a household name. But in 2011, that is exactly what GoPro did. Just last month, GoPro raised $427m on the very first day of being publicly traded company, but they didn’t accomplish that without a little help from their fans.
GoPro stands out because they are relatable and useful.
As a product, GoPro and the very popular line of HERO fixed lens cameras have created a way for users to choose their own destiny. As a brand on social media, they have found a way to launch a community for thousands of people to share their experiences. The photos on the GoPro Instagram offer a sense of belonging to its followers, while also serving as a gold mine for new creative uses for the camera itself.
4. Michael Kors: The Storyteller
Due to the way that Instagram sets up their feeds, when you see similar photos from the same account in your feed at different times of day, you might be compelled to investigate further. Instagram is not typically a social platform where one account will bulk upload a set of photos from the same event, but Michael Kors has made an exception for themselves, and I am not complaining.
Michael Kors stands out because they tell stories.
When you view their account as a whole, you can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped into a glamorous fashion fantasy. Each photo plays off the one before, as well as the one after, and before you know it you’re 64 weeks back into their feed, and you don’t plan on leaving. As a brand, Michael Kors has mastered the craft of desire. They create sets of images that make viewers long to live in the same fantasy world, thus selling products that may or may not make their dreams come true. 2.4 million dreams, that is.
In a pool of 200 million users, it’s a sink or swim world for brands on Instagram, and the waters are only getting more crowded. For some brands, Instagram is just another small facet of developing their brand personalities, but for others, it's their number one source of engagement. More and more, social media is where customers and potential brand advocates are—and thus where brands need to be.
When people think of Starbucks, many think coffee, and have for many years since the company began in 1971. Lately, with a new ad campaign strategy, Starbucks has begun to tap into the human experience and sell a moment, instead of a product.
Starbucks stands out because they bring people together.
“How We Met” is one of the Instagram campaigns that Starbucks has implemented, and one that has hit home with many users. With over 79, 000 likes, the photo below is accompanied by this caption:
“We met 53 years ago in a restaurant called El Cisne. I came from school with some friends to drink coffee and he was there with his Spanish friends also drinking coffee. He sent me a card with a waitress, which said… what did the little card say?" "Mide y media de mi existencia por una caricia de amor – (translation) A measure and a half of my existence I would give for a loving caress." "I returned him the card and said to the waitress “Please return this card to that man. I don’t know him; he’s European and probably married” #HowWeMet#Bogota#Colombia”
An account that has 3.6 million followers alone could get away with posting almost anything. But a brand like Starbucks, whose quarterly revenue reached upwards of $4 billion in 2014, does not take their insta-fame for granted. Instead of an endless feed of coffee mugs, Starbucks chooses to share examples of how coffee can influence relationships, and bring people together.
Looking to get your brand started on out on Instagram? Check out our guide for top tips and recommendations!