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Brands That Are Rocking It On Instagram – And What You Can Learn From Them

Ashlie Lanning.

Nitrogram 50, an Instagram engagement and analytics platform, tracks the top 50 most popular brands on Instagram in real time. Brands that consistently rank here and are consistently named in many social media marketer's "favorite brands on Instagram" include Nike, Starbucks, Sharpie, Victoria's Secret, Forever 21, GoPro, National Geographic and Red Bull to name a few.

But brands with millions of followers aren't the only ones having success on Instagram. There are many brands doing a great job of creating meaningful connections with their followers. Here are a few ways you can apply their success to your strategy.

Live Up To The Instagram Credo

First and foremost, these brands are using Instagram as it was intended to be used: a fast, beautiful and fun way to capture and share the world's moments.

Warby Parker, a boutique-quality prescription eyewear and sunglasses brand, encapsulates the "fun" aspect of Instagram to create engagement and ultimately, advocacy. Whether it's a #whereswarby photo like this one:

Warby Parker Instagram Photo

or a photo of an employee in outrageous attire, followers can count on fun content from Warby Parker in their feeds.

Warby Parker Instagram 2

When it comes to "beautiful," makeup brand Smashbox Cosmetics consistently offers up high quality visual eye candy for the 56,000 beauty junkies that follow them. This photo from St. Patrick's Day is beautiful, as well as clever and timely.

St. Patty's Day Brand Instagram Photo

Have a Healthy Content Mix

Benefit Cosmetics shares a healthy mix of beautiful product shots alongside curated content from customers along with images that give followers behind-the-scenes access at events and company headquarters. Do you also notice how there is a pop of pink in nearly every photo? That's genius, even if it's not intentional. Pink is an official color of this brand, so this is a subtle way to brand each photo without slapping the photo in a template.

Benefit Cosmetics Healthy Instagram Content Mix

Share Merchandise in Creative Ways

Cousin Couture is located in a small North Carolina town with a population of just 18,644. Yet, they've got over 10,000 Instagram followers. Though some of the artwork leaves a lot to be desired, this brand has an active community and as a result, a successful business. (I know. I shop there and found them through social media.) I’m most impressed with how they showcase new store arrivals through photos and actually generate sales by using "Comment to hold and call to order" as a call to action in nearly every post – and it all seems to have a positive impact on engagement.

Cousin Couture Instagram

Share Your Brand's Culture

Pabst Blue Ribbon embodies fun and creatively showcases product with each post. In doing so, it actually gives followers a pretty strong sense of the company’s playful, rustic, Americana culture.

PBR Instagram

Showcasing the culture of your brand is also a great Instagram strategy for brands that have merchandise or service that can’t be easily photographed.

Show Real People And Moments

One of the biggest brand names in guitars, Taylor Guitars, has racked up just over 7,500 followers in a year. The brand's focus on quality and passion comes through in photos that are organic and "real." The occasional celebrity musician makes an appearance in photos, but the focus always stays on the product, the people who make them and the people who love them. When you can show consumers that other people actually do love your product and how it works in their lives, your chances for engagement and advocacy greatly improve.

Dwell Studio Instagram

Dwell studio is a great example of a brand that shows the "real life" of Christiane Lemieux, the founder and creative director of the brand. Her feed does a great job of showcasing her personal aesthetic, merchandise and "real life" experiences. (Thanks to Morgan Shanahan of the818 for first pointing this out, and to Thea Neal for sharing Morgan's other insights.)

Provide A Behind-The-Scenes Pass

From high quality shots during tournaments to a photo of Tiger Woods' receipt from a drive-through, the PGA Tour's Instagram feed provides golf fans with an "all access pass" to the sights they wouldn't see anywhere else.

Behind the scenes Instagram brand pass

One last thing that most of these brands have in common is the wise use of hashtags. Make sure you know how your brand can leverage hashtags to increase reach.

What other brands do you think are using Instagram well? What are they doing right?

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2 thoughts on “Brands That Are Rocking It On Instagram – And What You Can Learn From Them

  1. Heather Poduska

    I loved this post! How you portray your brand image is extremely important. The more creative you can be, the more you will differentiate yourself and the more fun both you and your audience will have together! Imagery is an area I think service-based entrepreneurs often overlook which is a mistake. What's the old saying? A picture is worth $1,000...:)

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