Instagram has had a successful few years in terms of consumer and marketer adoption. But in order to capitalize on that growth, the company is shifting into the advertising space. However, this must be done carefully while attempting to maintain the delicate balance between user experience and brand satisfaction.
To help businesses reach audiences through captivating imagery, the company has launched The Instagram Handbook for Brands which profiles 11 companies that are doing a great job of engaging their audiences on Instagram without sacrificing user experience. Unfortunately the book isn’t broadly available, but content from it will be featured on Instagram’s blog.
The first in a series of blog posts was published yesterday and which it’s aimed at helping marketers showcase their best creative work. In it, Instagram highlights brands like @warbyparker, @gopro, @generalelectric, and @nikerunning, as well as some of their more successful hashtag campaigns.
Chances are you’ve already seen a few of those brands highlighted in other “best of” Instagram lists. Here at Sprout Social, we wanted to mix things up a bit so we used some of Instagram’s tips for marketers to help us find a few more brands to add to the list.
Be True to Your Brand
Instead of featuring overly staged or serious photos of its products, @sharpie’s Instagram account is full of fan-submitted “doodles” that are created with the brand’s line of markers and pens. Instead of blatant marketing, these images show exactly what people can do with Sharpie’s products.
That’s not to say that the occasional image of markers don’t make an appearance, but it’s done so in a way that doesn’t feel intrusive or that takes away from the art being shared. Each post is simple in its message. If anything, posts featuring Sharpie products reflect the brand’s creativity and attention to detail.
One of the best things a company on any social media platform can do is offer a view into the world or lifestyle that your brand makes possible. What’s even better is when you share this view through the eyes of the people who use your products and services. This is something that NARS Cosmetics, Bonobos, and Illamsqua do very well.
For example, NARS’ biography on Instagram lets people know that there’s a real person behind the account. The person behind @narsissist is a self-proclaimed beauty-obsessed girl living her dream, working at NARS Cosmetics. As a viewer, you see the brand through her eyes and share in her experiences.
@Bonobos and @Illamasqua both encourage their followers to submit images of themselves using their products. In turn, the companies then promote those images on their Instagram account. This is a great way to show how real people are using your products. It also helps you reward fans, many of whom are loyal and advocate for your company on other social networks.
This tip can be interpreted in a number of ways. Action could refer to visiting a website, purchasing a product, uploading an image, or even telling a friend. However you define it, action is the ultimate end goal of any social media campaign. In its blog post, Instagram highlighted great examples of movements inspired by brands. Here are a couple more.
Ben & Jerry’s, a popular ice cream company, launched a different kind of campaign early on in its Instagram history. Instead of focusing their efforts around its product, Ben & Jerry’s inspired fans with the #CaptureEuphoria campaign. Fans were encouraged to take pictures of whatever “euphoria” meant to them.
In 2013, @Heineken partnered with Wieden+Kennedy to launch an Instagram-based scavenger hunt. Instead of asking fans to submit photos, the brand hid clues within photos uploaded to its account from which fans had to use in order to solve a mystery. The only way to win the reward was to hashtag the right answer in the right photo.
Know Your Audience
As a marketer, it’s important to know what people love about your brand and how you can capture the imagination of new customers. This is something that Nintendo’s Instagram account does very well. From sharing trailers for upcoming video games and messages from the company’s president, to reminiscing about your favorite titles and gaming experience, the brand knows exactly who its speaking to.
Sports teams are another example of brands knowing their audience. The L.A. Clippers uses its Instagram account to share the best action shots of players during the game, while @NFL mixes in behind-the-scenes moments as well as vintage football pictures. The people following these accounts are looking to share experiences with their favorite teams, so its important that brands know who their followers are.
As we mentioned, yesterday’s post on the Instagram blog is only the first in its series of tips and resources for marketers. The content shared is meant to inspire you to be creative with your strategy — especially now that the company is experimenting with ads. Make sure that you keep a close eye on Instagram’s blog for additional resources and brand case studies.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.