With 500 million active monthly users and over 4.2 billion photos liked per day, Instagram is transforming marketing and community-building initiatives. Since it burst onto the social scene in 2010, users flocked to the network for its focus on creativity and lifestyle curation.
Now, seven years later, brands have followed their audiences to Instagram and are doubling down on their platform-wide efforts. In 2016, as many as 48.8% of brands were logging on to Instagram to initiate marketing campaigns – a number that is expected to reach over 70% in 2017.
Brands are already seeing tremendous results from their efforts, as Instagram marketing has been proven to be 11x more effective than traditional banner ads. Although more brands are investing in Instagram activity, some are still missing the mark.
Unlike other platforms, Instagram is, first and foremost, about its community. Instagram users don’t want to see endless streams of product-focused brand photos and videos – they receive endless barrages of product emails and advertisements already. Instead, they want to see creative storytelling centered on them, the consumer.
As a visual storytelling platform, brands have the power to harness Instagram’s features to share human moments – inspirational stories and engaging behind-the-scenes videos – that help audiences to feel more connected to the brand’s mission and community. Here are five brands doing Instagram marketing the right way.
Slyde Handboards is on a mission to make wave-riding accessible to the masses. With a range of cutting-edge handboard models, Slyde is helping everyone live out their surf lifestyle dreams. To communicate this, the Southern Californian brand focuses on the people using Slyde Handboards within its Instagram feeds.
From re-grams of customers’ action shots on the videos, to go-pro style videos, Slyde transports its digital audience to the water. Additionally, by leveraging the power of user generated content, Slyde is letting its passionate community members promote for them; when a potential customers view a community member’s photo or videos they experience a second-hand rush.
Red Bull is often lauded as being one of the original brands to shine a spotlight on its audiences via social media. The company’s Instagram feed celebrates the incredible feats and extreme risks its consumers take every day.
Scroll through Red Bull’s Instagram page and you won’t find a single product shot. Red Bull is not using Instagram to sell energy drinks, it’s using this visual channels as a means of building a global community that continues to support and push one another to achieve the impossible.
Instagram gives people the opportunity to share their creativity with the world; whether their chosen medium is poetry, cooking, or fashion styling, Instagram users have a new means of expressing themselves. Realizing that their customers love sharing their style choices with their own followers, Fashion Nova has created a feed completed centered on their customer’s’ own stylistic interpretations.
Their followers are encouraged to tag @fashionnova and use the hashtag #FashionNova when they upload a shot featuring a piece purchased through the retailer. The result is a win-win for everybody: the brand builds deeper relationships with its followers and FashionNova’s customers get to share their sartorial senses with the entire FashionNova community.
National Geographic has long been a publication that has celebrated global communities. The images that fill a National Geographic magazine transport readers to far-off corners of the world, subsequently opening eyes and hearts to the differences, and more importantly, the similarities that connect humanity. National Geographic takes a similar approach on their Instagram feed.
Each photo or video featured in the feed is a story in and of itself. NatGeo’s 73.4M followers can simply log into Instagram to discover another facet of life they had never previously imagined. Additionally, NatGeo does not employ an Instagram team. Instead, they rely on their community of followers to fill the feed with one-of-a-kind photos and videos. Professional and amateur photographers, alike, are encouraged to submit their original work for the chance to be featured on this storied feed.
More so than any television show in history, Saturday Night Live continues to wave its way into the cultural vernacular week after week. With an audience that spans several generations, SNL has the unique challenge of creating social content that speaks to everyone.
As a result, SNL’s social team implements an Instagram content strategy that equally highlights the past and the present, and the on stage and off. From homages to historical skits of season’s past to backstage shots and table-read glimpses, SNL’s account offers a no-holds-barred glimpse of life at 30 Rock’s infamous Studio 8H.
While all of these brands provide wildly different products, they all share one thing in common: an Instagram strategy centered on their community’s interests and expectations. Instagram offers brands the power to connect, but brands cannot expect to resonate with audiences if they are only focused on promoting themselves and their products.
By offering real, human-centric content, and executing the overarching strategy of connect first, sell later, these five brands have excelled at forging deep-seeded ties with their audiences.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.