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Brands That Have Cracked Instagram: 7 Key Takeaways

Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has amassed 300 million users who ‘like’ an incredible 29,000 images per second. This astronomical rise and high engagement rate means that Instagram users are 58 times more likely to interact than Facebook users and 120 times more likely than those on Twitter.
So what can companies do to maximise return from this lucrative platform? We looked into three of the biggest brands on Instagram (Nike, Starbucks and Topshop) to find out how they reached the pinnacle of the platform. These are their seven key takeaways…




1. Get your personality across


Defining and then consistently communicating personality is crucial to succeeding on Instagram. While companies can be restricted when it comes to their main website, Instagram gives them the opportunity to branch out and redefine themselves. Nike, the most popular brand on the platform, has a great overall image, but its ecommerce site inevitably has to be more product-focused. On Instagram however, Nike is free to post more aspirational sport and fitness images, in line with its customers’ interests.


2. Think about your followers’ interests


Following on from this, ensuring that posts are tailored to customer interests outside of your product range is really important. Topshop is a fantastic example of how to balance products with more lifestyle-centric images. It has analysed its customer base (15-30-year-old women) and their interests outside of just fashion, and tailored its feed to them. In summer, for example, Topshop’s Instagram is populated with images of holidays, music festivals and sunny rooftop bars, all of which appeals to its target market.


3. Pay attention to your followers’ uploads


As well as considering their interests, the top brands on Instagram also analyse what their followers are uploading. The reason for this is twofold: it allows brands to tailor their own content to their users’ trends to ensure success, as well as giving them the chance to ‘regram’ or replicate their users’ best posts to help improve their own feed. Starbucks does this exceptionally well, paying attention to the sorts of filters or compositions that are proving popular, as well as cherry-picking its best hashtag posts to upload to their own feed.


4. Tell a good story


Understanding how to tell a good story is, quite simply, vital for Instagram. Sporadic product uploads with no narrative or underlying theme are not enough to reach the levels of exposure and interaction that these top brands have attained. Starbucks, for example, has mastered the art of storytelling on Instagram; its cups are present in most images, but in real-life contexts that its followers can relate to, like first dates, Christmas dinners and sunny holidays.


5. Make the most of video


Since 2013, Instagram users have had the option to supplement their images with video content, and this is something the top brands on the platform have maximised. To avoid overloading its feed with product heavy images and maintain the aforementioned lifestyle focus, Topshop cleverly uses video content to showcase a range of products at once. To achieve this with images would take up the vast majority of its Instagram and defeat the object of using the platform, so video serves a really important purpose here.


6. Think outside the Instagram box


One of the ways Nike has established itself as the biggest brand on Instagram is by integrating its activities across multiple platforms. For its ground-breaking PHOTOiD campaign, Nike linked its interactive trainer colouring tool to Instagram and gave users the chance to combine their favourite image with a custom shoe, as well as the opportunity to share their finished design across multiple social networks. This campaign has since become one of the most successful in the history of Instagram, demonstrating the value of an innovative, cross-platform strategy.


7. Don’t forget about competitions

Finally, brands shouldn’t forget about one of the Instagram staples, the competition. If executed effectively, with a theme and prize relevant to the intended audience, contests provide a fantastic opportunity to drive additional engagement. When Topshop launched a previous prom dress range, it offered Instagram users the chance to win their own customised prom dress, with the post advertising this accruing 25,000 ‘likes’ in the first hour, which works out at an average of seven per second.


Mastering Instagram requires time and an extremely strategic approach but, if companies learn from the top brands on the platform and implement these tips, they will have a great chance of succeeding.

Joseph Hill
Joseph works in digital marketing at Search Laboratory. He believes that by combining both ContentMarketing, Social Media and Public Relations you can get the most from your online marketing.
Brands That Have Cracked Instagram: 7 Key Takeaways Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Tuesday, September 01, 2015 Rating: 5

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