Nine Brands Who Have Mastered Instagram

September 14th, 2017 by Search Influence Alumni

Each social media has its distinct character, but Instagram is a beast that many small businesses aren’t familiar with. Twitter is quick and to the point, Facebook friendly, and Linkedin professional. But what about Insta? We can look at these nine companies that are effectively using Instagram to uncover the secrets to its members’ hearts.

Beautiful Images Are the Core

Instagram is an image based platform. It’s where hobby photographers, style setters, food artists, and more come together to show off their photos. If your business wants to get noticed, you have to have images that resonate.

Boutique-style online fashion retailer ModCloth uses magazine quality photos that feature their staff members wearing some of the pieces they carry. Some are more glam and others silly, but they are all well lit and intentionally shot.

ModCloth Instagram screenshot

Let Your Hashtags Run Wild

On Twitter, it is best practice to keep your hashtags to a minimum, and most people only use them on Facebook when they’re being glib. Nothing could be further from the way hashtags are used on Instagram. It’s not uncommon to have 10-20 hashtags on a single image, covering every different way you can describe the image.

Inspirato uses multiple variations such as #luxuryhome and #luxuryvilla to widen the scope and make it more likely someone searching will find images of their vacation homes. They also use trendy hashtags like #travelgram to make sure they are part of the greater conversation.

Inspirato Instagram screenshot

In addition to using hashtags to be found by potential customers, hashtags can help you find your customers. Camp Brand Goods created the hashtag #keepitwild and encouraged their followers to use it when they took photos with their products. They then “regramed” those photos, showing off the testimonial while building a relationship with their customers. Customer spotlights are a creative way to build hype and fan loyalty, and they’re easy to leverage using hashtags.

Campbrand Goods Instagram screenshot

Build an #Aesthetic

The most popular Instagram feeds have a coherent theme or aesthetic that appears in each of their photos. This doesn’t mean you need to have your logo in every single photo (but if you can find a creative way to do that, then go for it!). However, having a consistent color scheme, lighting, and subject matter will help to solidify your brand identity. While the three images below from Havenly all have different subjects, the color scheme ties them all together. They all invoke the same feelings and reveal what the brand is all about—decorating spaces with a sense of calm and modern femininity.

The Havenly Instagram screenshot

Screenshot of The Havenly Instagram post

TheHavenly Instagram post screenshot

Sell a Lifestyle

Your brand identity is who you are as a company, but the lifestyle you depict in your images is who your customers are. If you’re a car dealership, what kinds of people buy from you, and what do they value? All things USA, the outdoors, family BBQs? Then show those things in your images.

You don’t have to limit your posts to just pictures of your products. Four Barrel Coffee shows images from the coffee-creation process, as well as the final product. They also post images that appeal to their hipster demographic, such as this photo of their new record player.

FourBarrelCoffee Instagram screenshot

If you want to show your products, take a page out of Sphero’s book and showcase some of the features and unique selling points of your business. Their little toy robots roll around all sorts of obstacles, and their photos and videos actually catch them in action.

Screenshot of Sphero's Instagram post

‘Gram in Real Time

In addition to sharing staged and styled photos, Instagram can be great for showing off things that are happening at the moment. Testing a new prototype? Take a short video of it in action to use as a teaser. You can also share photos from events, like Dolphin Browser did. This is especially great if you’re hosting an open house, since it can show people how much fun they’ll miss if they don’t head over right away!

Dolphinbrowser Instagram post screenshot

You can also share photos of your office, a day in the life, or other images of your energetic, smiling employees! It’s something we do here, as well, so you know it’s got to be a great idea 😉  Make sure you follow us on Instagram for updates.

Search Influence Instagram post screenshot

Get Local With It

Small businesses often have close connections with their local community. Take advantage of that by following other local businesses, Little League teams, and other community organizations you want to foster a relationship with.

Kawaii NOLA is a New Orleans clothing and novelty store that specializes in Japanese imports. In addition to showing pictures of their products, they often share flyers and other information for small businesses, local artists, and Japanese cultural events throughout the city.

Kawaiinola Instagram post screenshot

By cross-promoting other nearby businesses, you can unlock a new potential audience.

In this example, classic anime and film fans can learn more about Kawaii NOLA, and Kawaii NOLA customers may choose to see another film at this theatre after this event is over. Everybody wins!

Instagram is a brave, beautiful new world for businesses. At the center of all of the examples above is one simple piece of advice: be authentically you. Whoever you are as a company and brand, show that off, and you’ll find the customers you’re looking for.

If you want help managing your social media accounts, reach out to us to see how we can help!


All screenshots by Meaghan McCarthy. Taken September 2017.