7 Brands on Instagram, and What You Can Learn from Them

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Social media is all about connecting with others and getting information - quickly and easily. In today’s fast-paced world, people don’t always have time to read 1,000 words, so it’s no wonder that Instagram is an insanely popular outlet (after all, one picture is worth 1,000 words). We scoured the Nitrogram 50 (a list of the top Instagram accounts based on multiple statistics) to find innovative brands that are doing Instagram right, and how you can follow in their footsteps.

1. @Nike

Think about your brand's message and personality: is it warm and fuzzy, or motivational and intense? Use your captions to give your brand a clear voice, as this (and not your products) will make it memorable. The most popular brand on Instagram, according to Nitrogram 50, is Nike. But what’s even more impressive is that it surpasses the second most popular brand by over 1 million followers and over 7 million posts with their hashtag. Their secret? Nike may have a cult following, which helps when you’re stemming out on social media - but you have to stay true to your message to keep that cult following. They don’t just market their products; they market the spirit of Nike. Many posts have captions motivating their audience to push farther, not give up, and #justdoit. They also encourage people to use their famous hashtag on photos of them accomplishing great athletic feats, promising to re-post a few.

The takeaway: Think about your brands message and personality: is it warm and fuzzy, or motivational and intense? Use your captions to give your brand a clear voice, as this (and not your products) will make it memorable.


2. @Starbucks

Relatability is key. Starbucks makes its worldwide chain seem like it’s run by the same people that own the small-town coffee shop down the block - all through the power of well done selfies.Coming in at number two is the queen of coffee, Starbucks. The photos come from Seattle, where Starbucks started, keeping its social media close to its roots. They use their yearly themes (the PSL phenomenon, anyone?), special effects that appear wrought from free photo-altering apps, and surprisingly personal pictures of anonymous regular Joes. The personal pics make Starbucks blend in with your friends’ Instas, but this is also what makes it special. Who doesn’t want to see that the suits behind a company are down to earth and take pictures of themselves snuggling in bed with (Starbucks) coffee?

The takeaway: Relatability is key. Starbucks makes its worldwide chain seem like it’s run by the same people that own the small-town coffee shop down the block - all through the power of well done selfies.


3. Michael Kors - @MichaelKors

Don’t throw your product in the audience’s face. Find subtle ways to make people covet your product with interesting themes and beautiful photos that match your customer’s aesthetic. This fashion brand at number 8 recently made headlines for Instagram. Why? The first ever Instagram ad happened - and it was for a Michael Kors watch. Most found the ad to be what Instagram had promised ads would be: beautiful and unobtrusive. Going by the stats, it was a huge success for Kors. You can learn from this success by looking at their whole Instagram feed. It’s beautiful, elegant, crisp, and modern - everything the woman who wears Michael Kors aims for in her style. They run campaigns like other Instas, but they aren’t gaudy and obvious. For example, there are multiple photos with one watch and various paraphernalia related to a specific location. The caption will read whatever time and the place where the watch is at the moment. It’s a simple, clean, but glamorous way to display a product.

The takeaway: Don’t throw your product in the audience’s face. Find subtle ways to make people covet your product with interesting themes and beautiful photos that match your customer’s aesthetic.


4. Christian Louboutin - @LouboutinWorld

If your product can stand alone as your brand’s voice, go for it, but in a way that’s still down to earth and amusing. Just remember that not everyone’s products are as revered or as coveted as those red soles. Another fashion brand that’s doing Instagram right is Christian Louboutin, number 25. Updated multiple times a day, the account typically displays similar products in 4 squares together, different views of one shoe stitched together, and shoes or accessories on interesting backgrounds or in pretty places. Instead of using people in the company to give life to the brand, Louboutin lets it’s product do the talking - and thanks to the cute captions and everyday backdrops, it works.

The takeaway: If your product can stand alone as your brand’s voice, go for it, but in a way that’s still down to earth and amusing. Just remember that not everyone’s products are as revered or as coveted as those red soles.


5. @Disneyland

If your business is a service that ends up pretty enough for a photo, encourage your fans and customers to take pictures and use your hashtag. Even if you don’t get many followers, you can still stay relevant on Instagram with this “outsourcing” technique. The most magical place on earth sits at number 30 - with only about 333,000 followers as of the date of this article (but growing rapidly). But here’s the data fact that makes it special: Over 3.5 million posts have the #Disneyland tag, which is a testament to how popular this vacation destination is. It’s a good thing people use that hashtag, too, because that’s how Disneyland’s Instagram gets all of its photos. It creds the outside sources and then adds a wholesome, sometimes funny, caption.

The takeaway: If your business is a service that ends up pretty enough for a photo, encourage your fans and customers to take pictures and use your hashtag. Even if you don’t get many followers, you can still stay relevant on Instagram with this “outsourcing” technique.


6. @YouTube

If you have a wide audience, focus in on specific demographics with social media campaigns. It’s a great way to make sure no one feels left out, and to get other slices of your audience interested in products or services that they might otherwise overlook. Who knew that pictures of celebs would be enough to get you to number 36? It’s a no brainer that YouTube would take advantage of their celebrity rolodex when it comes to Instagram, but they have a little something else up their sleeves, too: social media campaigns that appeal to their diverse masses. Why does this work so well? It reflects what makes Youtube so popular: it’s an open community where anyone can express their minds or creativity. While most recently YouTube was busy promoting its wacky music video award show, in the past it has run campaigns for its “Geek Week” and “Comedy Week.” It also features not-so-famous Youtube stars working on their videos, adding to the idea that YouTube is the site to use as your creative outlet.

The takeaway: If you have a wide audience, focus in on specific demographics with social media campaigns. It’s a great way to make sure no one feels left out, and to get other slices of your audience interested in products or services that they might otherwise overlook.


7. Monster Energy - @MonsterEnergy

Look for people that have a following and align well with your brand that your company can sponsor or partner with. Utilize this relationship on your Instagram to make it more exciting and get their fans interested in your business. Does it surprise you that this behemoth of a brand takes its place at number 44? It shouldn’t. Monster Energy is smart - they sponsor sports that fit right in with the demographic that their drink targets. Due to this, there’s never a dull moment on their Instagram feed. It’s full of awesome live action pictures of skateboarders, racecar drivers, snowboarders, and more, which reflects the goal of their drink: to help you #unleashthebeast. If just looking at their Instagram account can get you revved up, imagine what their drink can do.

The takeaway: Look for people that have a following and align well with your brand that your company can sponsor or partner with. Utilize this relationship on your Instagram to make it more exciting and get their fans interested in your business.

The last thing: remember to have fun. Instagram is the ultimate expression tool, and that’s what your audience wants to see. Use Instagram to truly express your brand, whether it be through epic photos, elegant campaigns, or witty captions. Maybe next time your company will be at the top of Nitrogram 50’s list.

Do you follow brands on Instagram? What lessons have you learned from them? Let us know in the comment section.