With 200 million active users and 1.6 billion likes added daily, Instagram is helping hundreds of businesses reach their respective audiences through a captivating and rich visual platform. The app’s simple design allows each photo or video to take center stage, making it a powerful driver of engagement for branded content.
And through the introduction of new creative tools, Instagram is making it even easier for brands to share creative and compelling content with fans. Just in case you need more convincing, here are some examples of how top brands are mastering Instagram as a marketing tool.
Ben & Jerry’s
One of the first companies to join Instagram in 2011, Ben & Jerry’s is an expert at bringing its ice cream brand to life through the photo-sharing app. The company relies on Instagram to enhance its global presence, connecting with people around the world and highlighting photos from fans enjoying their ice cream.
“It’s our visual storytelling platform,” explained the brand’s marketing manager Mike Hayes. “We’re a curator of our brand story now.” And it’s not just the brand doing the storytelling. Nearly half of the photos that Ben & Jerry’s shares through its Instagram account are from community members. “The secret is respecting the community and providing value to them.”
Chobani is a great example of a brand being where its customers are. “We’re on the platform every day so we know what’s trending,” noted Hilary duPont, a content manager for Chobani. “If our consumers are posting about smoothies, we are, too. We want to be doing what they’re doing.”
After joining Instagram in 2011, the company discovered a wealth of content from the community featuring its product. Through hashtags like #creationaday and #chobani, people looked to engage with the brand and other yogurt-lovers. Inspired by this, Chobani’s social team built an empowered following on Instagram.
As a result, the brand used visual content to push beyond the common perception of yogurt as a breakfast staple and showcased it as a core ingredient and healthy substitute in a variety of different foods. Today Chobani is a leading example of what brands can achieve through the app.
We’ve highlighted General Electric in the past, but this brand bears repeating. While it’s tempting to use social media to push products, GE’s social team doesn’t rely on Instagram to push appliances. Instead, the team saw this an an opportunity to show a different side of the brand, using visuals to tell a broader story of building, powering, and moving the world.
“We do so many things, something we were looking to solve is how to explain that to people,” explained Katrina Craigwell, global manager of digital marketing at GE. “It’s about developing an understanding for what GE does, beyond what you think it does.” So how does the company craft a compelling story out of images of massive machines?
One way is by ensuring that the messaging aligns with larger business objectives. Another way is by creating content that’s exclusive for Instagram, allowing other channels to pull from the account. An especially effective technique is the use of scale — showing people as they build and service machines.
Another great example of a brand going beyond product pushing is Nike. Sure, there are plenty of images featuring the company’s footwear, but the focus is on community. Something that makes Nike so successful across social media is its understanding of and passion for community.
In addition to its primary @nike account, the brand created Instagram profiles that reflect different communities, including @nikebasketball, @nikefootball, and @nikerunning. Instagram featured the latter in its Handbook for Brands and brand video because of the “extraordinary” way it brings the global running community together.
The team behind the account oversees everything running related at Nike, from hosting events to designing shoes. This consistency is brought to life on Instagram through photos, videos, and hashtags that capture events, products, and inspiration. All of this is done while remaining part of a larger story and the message that as runners, “we’re all in this together.”
For more examples of how top brands are engaging audiences on Instagram, check out some of our earlier articles, including this one about selfies and how using human faces can boost interactions. We also recommend reviewing the new creative tools that were announced yesterday to be sure you’re uploading the highest quality content.
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.