Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social networks, with 400 million members sharing 80 million pieces of visual content every day. It’s also the network that accounts for highest engagement per post at over 4%, whereas platforms like Facebook and Twitter achieve less than 1% engagement.
With such eye-catching stats, you would expect companies to flock to Instagram to take advantage of this active, engaged audience. However, only 34% of brands around the world are on Instagram, compared to 80% and 70% on Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
So what gives? To Instagram’s defense, it is still relatively new in comparison to the other networks, and is often seen as more of a niche audience. It’s easy for companies to write off Instagram because they don’t feel that their products or services are “visual” enough, but most industries can find a way to make it work. Some of the most successful accounts don’t outwardly promote their offerings at all, but rather focus on their team, facility, and technology to add a visual appeal to their social presence.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not your company is a good fit for Instagram, or you simply want to take your profile to the next level, take a page from these six brands that are absolutely killing it on the network.
Nasty Gal – 1.8 Million Followers
Nasty Gal began its rise to fashion royalty on Myspace (when that was still a thing), so there isn’t a better place to start than with a brand that was launched through the help of social media. Prior to becoming a full-blown ecommerce business (that now has two brick-and-mortar stores in Los Angeles), Nasty Gal relied on social media to follow the latest trends and see what its target audience of consumers was interested in talking about.
As Nasty Gal has evolved over the past few years, they’ve continued their social media dominance, especially on Instagram. The network naturally lends itself to edgy, fashionable images, which is exactly what Nasty Gal stands for. They’re a company with sass and attitude, and that’s what their audience loves about them.
On their Instagram account, you’ll have a visual experience that perfectly mirrors their website, providing brand continuity across platforms. They’ve also created their own hashtag, #NastyGalsDoItBetter, that they share across social networks to add to this consistent image. Nasty Gal’s clothing and accessories are bright, glamorous, and far from ordinary – and they tend to place these pieces on neutral backgrounds so that the products remain the focal point. Keeping the focus on the products themselves prevents distractions, while adding to that luxurious, high-fashion feel.
Key Takeaway: Let Your Products and Services Do the Talking. Complex Backgrounds or Landscapes Aren’t Always Necessary to Evoke Your Brand Image.
GoPro – 6.7 Million Followers
GoPro is the perfect example of a company that doesn’t have an overtly attractive or flashy product, but the nature of the photography industry lends itself flawlessly to Instagram. In most of their posts, you don’t see the product at all, but rather the point of view from the camera.
In addition to creating a highly cravable product, GoPro has successfully created a culture of adventure around their brand. Every image they share begs the question of where you’ll take your GoPro next. Some of these visuals reflect once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like skydiving, whereas others show you how you can incorporate a GoPro into your day-to-day activities.
By using these vivid, adrenaline-inducing images on their Instagram account, they’re able to feature their product without outwardly “promoting” it and saying “Hey, here’s our camera. You should go buy it!”
Even though GoPro is another example of a brand that clearly fits within the Instagram model, it represents a large number of industries that may not have the most beautiful product, but contribute to a thrilling and visually appealing experience.
Key Takeaway: Look Beyond Your Product or Service to How Your Customers Use It, and Make That a Focal Point of Your Instagram Strategy.
Warby Parker – 199,000 Followers
Warby Parker is a company that was unknown by many until recently, and they have their social media savviness to thank for their rapid rise in the eyeglass industry. Affordable products, hassle-free returns, and a charitable mindset are all at the forefront of Warby Parker’s social presence, growing their follower base exponentially in the past couple of years.
Their Instagram account shares a combination of original and customer-submitted photos that balance practicality and comic relief in perfect harmony. In many of their images, dogs are wearing their glasses, so it’s safe to say they’re not just a typical member of Corporate America. Other images feature just the glasses themselves to make them the focus of the post, as well as situations where you would likely need your glasses, such as at school or work.
Beyond the products they sell, Warby Parker is also known for their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” initiative, where they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that is purchased. So far they’ve donated over one million pairs of glasses, and they’re not stopping there. Using social media platforms such as Instagram is a great way to get your customers on board with a cause that is close to your heart, while also adding a more human element to your social presence.
Key Takeaway: Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously, and Let Your Followers See the Human Behind the Brand.
FIJI Water – 43,500 Followers
FIJI Water sells a very basic product with a high-class feel. Water may not seem like an industry that would have much to contribute to the visual nature of Instagram, but the company crushes that notion – and then some. While staring at images of water bottles would likely get boring pretty quickly, FIJI Water’s profile is a nice blend of product placement and beautiful scenery from around the world. The company’s means of differentiation is that their water is bottled directly at the source of a natural aquifer in Fiji, and their imagery of bright blue water and serene landscapes plays perfectly into the FIJI Water brand.
Their Instagram photos show everyday situations where you would be likely to have a bottle of water by your side, fitting this “luxury brand” into a consumer’s daily regimen. They also emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle, often featuring a bottle of their water alongside a home-cooked meal or someone engaging in physical activity. There’s been a huge push among the medical community to replace high calorie, high sugar beverages with water, so FIJI Water uses this to their advantage.
A potential point of contention with the brand is their price. However, despite the fact that their water sells for two or three times the price of their competitors, you don’t really get that feel from their Instagram account. The way they position their brand makes them welcoming and relatable, giving them a voice in a relatively monotonous industry. FIJI Water is the perfect balance of luxury and leisure, and represents a viable strategy for many luxury brands that are afraid of alienating potential customers.
Key Takeaway: Luxury Brands Can Still Be Approachable.
NFL – 4.3 Million Followers
It’s football season, so how could I not talk about the NFL’s Instagram account? Most sports enthusiasts on Instagram probably already follow the NFL, as the account serves as a central location for anything and everything you need to keep up with the league. Even though we all have teams that we are unequivocally devoted to (Go Bills!), the NFL covers each team fairly and in an engaging way.
In addition to traditional means of following the sport, the Fantasy Football craze is at its prime. Instagram serves as a perfect platform for the sports obsessed to gather and recap the happenings of the week.
The NFL’s Instagram posts include highlights, promos for upcoming Sunday and Monday Night Football games, scores, player stats, and much more. It’s evident that the league’s fans are at the forefront of their social media strategy, and if you happen to miss a game, you can just check out their Instagram account for everything you need to know to get caught up.
This is a perfect example for brands that don’t provide a tangible product to consumers, but rather an experience or entertainment. Companies can effectively utilize Instagram by playing off of consumer emotions, telling a story, and giving them a VIP-like experience.
Key Takeaway: You Don’t Have to Sell a Physical Product to Have a Place on Instagram.
Reynold’s Wrap – 7,200 Followers
Yes, you read that right. The company that sells aluminum foil and wax paper is not only on Instagram, but is a poster child of how to do it right. Since Reynold’s Wrap is closely tied to the food and beverage industry, they emphasize the variety of creations you can make with their products. They even have original recipes on their website, which they feature a link to in their Instagram bio and in the text of individual posts.
But the most captivating part of this account is that each image connects to the next one, so when you look at several next to each other, it looks like one large image. Other brands have caught on to this idea, but it’s interesting that a company with seemingly little to offer the visual community of Instagram has made such a name for itself.
In addition to their creative approach, Reynold’s Instagram reflects larger ideals of health and wellness, as well as the importance of sitting down to have a meal with family and friends. They subtly evoke these concepts throughout their images and the prominence of their recipes across social networks.
Key Takeaway: Even the Most “Boring” of Brands Can Be a Social Media Game Changer.
With Instagram on the up-and-up, social media marketers are still figuring out how they can make it work for their company. The above brands cover a wide variety of industries and product/service offerings but all have made a name for themselves on the network, which goes to show that practically anyone can get involved. Most importantly, it comes down to staying true to your brand and having a good mix of promotional and non-promotional content.
Instagram is a platform for people to create personal connections and gain insight into the life of someone else, so keeping that in mind when creating the perfect image or video is critical. But if you can provide a human feel and add life to something that might not initially seem “exciting,” you’ll effectively give Instagram users what they’re looking for.