Instagram has become a wildly-effective platform for social engagement between brands and their consumers. One could argue that it has all the killer features of its peers, consolidated into a tight, approachable package. It pulls your social network and comment functionality from Facebook, allows you to @tag and #hashtag like Twitter, and it's all visually-engaging content that is easy to consume, share, and engage. In fact, since Facebook acquired Instagram for $1.1 billion, they've become even more integrated, with 98% of Instagram posts being shared on Facebook. (Pew)
Let's take a look at what some of the most popular brands on Instagram are doing to engage their audiences and amass more of a following.
Nike is arguably the most successful brand on Instagram. Boasting more than 2 million followers and several million hashtag mentions by other users, Nike posts well-composed, high-res shots of athletes and Nike products without making them visibly commercial. The images and videos tell stories AND promote products. Nike has multiple Instagram accounts like @nikefootball, @nikebasketball, and @nikerunning (among several others), but the flagship account dominates Instagram, with hundreds of thousands of likes per photo. The Instagram engagement crown atop the Nike brand is Nike PHOTOID, a marriage of the Nike ID system, where users can design their own custom shoes, and Instagram. Users can select a photo from their Instagram account and PHOTOID will create a custom shoe design from the color scheme of the photo.
Starbucks uses Instagram to reinforce its already-strong brand, centered around their products and the atmosphere cultivated at their retail locations. Their Instagram account features pictures of coffee and snacks (obviously) but also themed content relevant to their users' daily lives. By using creative hashtags that go beyond #starbucks, they've inspired their audience to be creative with the brand. For example, #strawsome is a hashtag users are applying to their innovative uses of Starbuck's unique green straw, examples of which are below.
Comodo, a high end Latin-fusion restaurant in NYC, noticed that their customers were posting photos of their plates on Instagram, so they decided to make use of that trend with a clever hashtag #comodomenu. By telling customers on their menu to use this hashtag, they leveraged their customers' efforts, both as a means of promotion and an improvement of in-store customers' experience. Check the video below to see how they did it.
Chobani is a greek yogurt company using Instagram to engage with people who like their brand. What's great about Chobani's Instagram is that their yogurt is not only a food itself, but also a healthy alternative to other dairy products. For example, they have made s'mores, pizza, and the base for sandwich condiments with Chobani, and in the captions, they direct users to their blog where they could find the recipes. Using Instagram this way cleverly promotes the brand by demonstrating the versatility of Chobani.
There are myriad ways to cleverly use Instagram as a promotion and engagement engine for any brand. Creativity and user contributions are key to garnering attention and traction on the photo-sharing network. Instagram will only continue to grow, and we look forward to seeing it become a major promotion engine for brands large and small.
Next week, we'll take a look at how Instagram Video is helping brands push top-tier content to their audience. Be sure to check out and follow our Instagram account: @privy!