As Instagram recently announced new marketing tools for business, taking another step further in accommodating brands, we wanted to take a look at what is already happening on this successful mobile photo sharing social network. At the moment, Instagram ads are only available to the US, but the company is looking into bringing them to a few more countries later this year (UK, Australia, Canada).
But what is Instagram? The popular photos sharing social network hosts around 60 million photos (selfies, landscapes, fashion photography, delicious food, holiday photos) per day and 200 million monthly users on average. In a nutshell, it is home for celebrities , professional photographers, bloggers , brands and anyone who wants to show his/her visual creativity in photo or video format, with plenty of filters to top it.
Over 90% of instagrammers are under the age of 35, which makes it an attractive platform for many brands. Similar to Pinterest, the platform seems to be dominated by women, as Business Insider point out in one of their recent reports.
As you can probably guess, brands that have successfully embarked on the visual marketing strategy have already build a consistent presence on this platform, using relevant and in context imagery to communicate their stories to the world and of course, gain new fans and customers.
Who are these brands? Popular site Nitogram – now TOTEMS– displays a breakdown of the most successful brands on Instagram, by both number of followers and posts on brand hashtag
As you can see, the Top 3 brands are Nike -with more than 5,871,942 followers, Starbucks with 3,006,784 followers and Adidas with 2,606,380 followers.
But what makes these top brands winners of Insta-marketing?
1) They understand the philosophy of Instagram. These brands have figured out that adding a filter to an ad featuring their product is not what their followers would expect of them and they know that having a strategy and plenty of visual content adapted to the specifics of this platform is the way to go. They also get creative and share best quality photos to showcase their products, which turns these assets into invitations for customers to be part of their world and story.
Both Nike and Starbucks have broken the barrier of understanding the Instagramer’s frame of mind in that they don’t treat their Instagram presence as just another display of their online catalogue, as pointed out in this Forbes piece.
2) They involve their followers in the conversation and participate in the conversations on popular hashtags.
Starbucks is not only constantly regramming (the Instagram share) content from fans posting to their #starbucks, but also from other popular coffee related #s , such as #coffeelove.
GOPro, the famous camera that has more than 2,786,114 followers on Instagram, re-shares one awesome fan photo per day, as part of the Photo of the day campaign that runs across multiple social channels.
This strategy clearly moves away from just broadcasting content and shows fans the love they need, encouraging them at the same time to share more of their real experience with products and express themselves creatively. This requires an active understanding of followers, constant research on popular hashtags and keeping track of how fans respond.
Fashion Retailer Asos with 2,075,705 followers and 1,185,945 posts on the brand # encourage customers to show how they are wearing their products. This clever move is happening on their popular asseenonme hashtag present on both Twitter and Facebook.
3) They post lifestyle visual content- sometimes content in the right context is exactly what your customers want to see. Asos have fully understood this by posting content that is different from what they usually have included into their editorial calendar, as you can see in their weekend series (plus, foodporn+instagram= <3)
4) They are alive and talking. They comment on fan photos and they reply to fan questions and comments.
Having a presence on Instagram requires attention and dedication. Whether they offer support or just congratulate fans on their shared photos, winning brands on instagram understand that constant communication is one of the keys to success.
5) They reward fans not only through regramming their content, but also through incentives and prizes offered in different contests.
Check out this contest organized by H&M in partnership with one of their collaborator artists.
6) They’re not afraid to welcome you into their homes. They offer behind the scene photos that fans wouldn’t normally find on other channels and successfully paint a picture of the company culture and of the working environment.
What brands do you follow on this platform and what winning programs have you ran into , specific to Instagram? 🙂