When I first joined Instagram, I was pretty skeptical. I thought Instagram was just an app that allowed people to parade as faux photographers and take pictures of food or, even worse, take selfies. Did some of my Instagram stereotypes prove true? Sure. But I quickly realized that Instagram is much more than a culinary-capturing tool.
I found that there are a number of brands with great Instagram marketing strategies. In May 2013 Simply Measured published a study that looked at Instagram adoption by Interbrand’s top 100 brands. Simply Measured found that 67% of the top brands have Instagram accounts, and 34% have over 10,000 followers. Here are some brands doing amazing things on Instagram: what they do that works, how they leverage the platform’s power, and how you can incorporate these practices into your Instagram efforts.
Brand: Kate Spade
Strategy: Offer a behind-the-scenes look into one of fashion’s biggest brands.
Execution: The biography for Kate Spade’s Instagram account says, “Follow us for a glimpse into the world of Kate Spade New York”. This is exactly what the fashion and accessories brand does on Instagram: provide its followers an exclusive look into its inner workings. Kate Spade shared a wealth of pictures from its New York Fashion Week show: models prepping for the show, photos from backstage, previews of its fall 2013 collection, a peek at its 20th anniversary celebration party.
Kate Spade’s Instagram is a visual gateway into its world, and that world includes its products, its designers, its special events, and famous New York City landmarks.
Kate Spade also makes use of the Photo Map, so users can see the brand’s photos categorized by location.
Takeaway: Use Instagram to offer followers a behind-the-scenes look into your business. Whether they’re photos of employees at work, holiday parties, sneak peeks into new products or services, or upcoming launches, Instagram not only captivates followers by letting them behind the velvet rope so to speak but also shows that a business is made up of more than its products. It consists of company culture, collaborations, and real people hard at work on the next new thing. Give people an inside look at your business. And if you travel to events around the state or country (a photographer who displays his or her work at different art festivals and venues throughout the country for instance), use the Photo Map and let people know exactly where to find you.
Strategy: Show all of the creativeness and colorfulness that stems from the tip of a Sharpie.
Execution: Sharpie’s Instagram account isn’t about displaying or pushing Sharpie products; rather, it’s about displaying the brilliant art Sharpie products help people make. It’s also about encouraging and inspiring people to create. It’s filled with a wealth of colorful, captivating drawings all penned with Sharpie markers: food, quotes, musicians, a football posted on Super Bowl Sunday, seasonal themes, etc. Just glancing at Sharpie’s Instagram would inspire any artistically inclined individual to grab a marker and sketch away.
(And Sharpie’s Instagram biography encourages that very action through a pithy call-to-action).
Takeaway: You don’t have to sell stunning products to use Instagram. Sharpie doesn’t just post pictures of markers (that most likely wouldn’t be too interesting). Instead, Sharpie shows what those markers allow people to create. Sharpie shows the end product. Sharpie’s strategy can be used by any business: show products or services in action, being used by real people. It’s not always about the products themselves but rather what those products let people do.
Strategy: Showcase photos taken by Sony consumers and spotlight individual Instagram users.
Execution: Sony’s Instagram is filled with user-generated content. It features gorgeous photos of scenery and adorable photos of pets taken by people with Sony cameras. It displays photos people take of Sony products like a vintage Walkman or a PlayStation controller.
Sony’s user-generated content accomplishes a couple things: one, it’s great for social proof because it shows real people using Sony products in their everyday lives, and two, it spotlights fans and gives them shoutouts by featuring their photos.
Takeaway: Instagram is a great tool for tapping into the power of user-generated content. Brands can encourage people to upload photos with a specific hashtag, spotlight these photos, and even tie them into a contest: a fan of the week is selected for uploading a particularly creative photo, has his or her photo featured, and wins a gift card or a prize.
Business: Black Rock Kitchen and Bar
Strategy: Share the delicious and congenial vibe of a local restaurant through alluring photos.
Execution: Black Rock Kitchen and Bar proves that you don’t have to be a major brand to use Instagram. It’s a small restaurant located in Buffalo, NY (my hometown bias is at work here) that routinely shares photos of its delectable-looking nightly specials. It also shares photos of the restaurant’s interior and its employees.
Takeaway: A restaurant is the type of business that fits perfectly with Instagram. It shows people what the business is about and what kind of food it creates rather than simply telling them. Seeing a picture of a dinner entree can have a far greater impact than merely reading the description of it on the menu. A restaurant can even gain its own user-generated content by encouraging patrons to upload their own photos of the food they order and use a specific hashtag. This exposes the restaurant to all of those patrons’ Instagram followers, thereby tapping into the power of word-of-mouth marketing. And anyone who searches or taps on that hashtag will see pictures of the restaurant’s food. Encouraging patrons to upload food photos could even be tied into a contest: anyone who uploads a photo and uses the hashtag gets entered into a contest to win a gift certificate.
Nonprofit Organization: To Write Love on Her Arms
Strategy: Post a variety of photos, all of which seamlessly relate to the organization’s mission.
Execution: To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a nonprofit dedicated to providing hope and finding help for people struggling with depression and addiction. TWLOHA organized a tour across the U.S. that it described as “an evening of songs, conversation, and hope”. It posted photos of the performers on stage and of the crowds at various venues. TWLOHA also posts photos of its staff and spotlights the members from TWLOHA chapters at universities across the country. It highlights its #FearsvsDreams campaign, in which people pose with a whiteboard that discloses their biggest fears and dreams.
And while TWLOHA’s Instagram photos span different topics, they all relate back to the organization’s goal: to provide inspiration and promote hope.
Takeaway: A brand can use Instagram to let people know about events it’s sponsoring or partaking in. That can include everything from concerts to community events to volunteer efforts. And ideally every photo a business posts should fit organically and naturally into its mission and appeal to its target audience.
There’s some powerful data that makes the case for getting on board with Instagram if you’re not already.
How many people use Instagram?
- 100 million people use Instagram on a monthly basis. Tweet this stat!
- 1,000 comments are left on Instagram each second. Tweet this stat!
- 40 million photos are posted on Instagram each day. Tweet this stat!
- There are 8,500 likes every second on Instagram; during peak times this number increases to 10,000 likes per second. Tweet this stat!
What about brands on Instagram?
- 67% of Interbrand’s Top 100 Brands have an Instagram account. Tweet this stat!
- 37% of the top brands post more than 20 photos per month. Tweet this stat!
- 23% of the top brands post 50 or more photos per month. Tweet this stat!
- 34% of the top brands have more than 10,000 followers. Tweet this stat!
- 27% have more than 20,000 followers. Tweet this stat!
- 16% have more than 100,000 followers. Tweet this stat!
Source: Simply Measured