Facebook just doesn’t cut it anymore.

A recent article by Jeff Bercovici details how user engagement on Facebook has fallen considerably over the last few years. Original broadcast sharing, posts that contain the user’s own words and images, has fallen by 21% from 2014 to 2015. Social media marketing is high on the priority list of most brands that are interested in reaching a wider audience. And Instagram is overthrowing older social media networks with a vengeance to be the new favourite of the masses.

With more than 400 million active monthly users and 75 million daily users, Instagram is clearly emerging as the undisputed leader of the social networks. It isn’t surprising that the visual networking site is projected to grow 15.1% this year, which is 5 times the projected growth for the social network sector as a whole. What is even more interesting is how brands on Instagram are using it to connect with their audience.

We bring you a list of brands on Instagram that are using the platform in clever and innovative ways to give their audience a glimpse of who they really are.

User Generated Content – National Geographic

National Geographic’s Instagram page is a sight for travel-hungry eyes. Their feed is replete with pictures that showcase a myriad shades of a world filled with culture and adventure. While some of the pictures are posted by their own photographers, a significant number of them are contributed by users.

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They also incorporate user-generated content through photography contests on their Instagram page. The Wanderlust photo contest ran from June till July 2015 and encouraged amateur photographers to post pictures tagged #WanderlustContest on Instagram. The prize was an all expenses paid 7-day photo expedition trip to Yosemite National Park along with a renowned National Geographic photographer. As expected, the competition was a huge success and lead to hundreds of spellbinding entries.

Thought leadership- NASA

For all the space lovers who enjoy geeking out on astronomy, there is no better place to go to than NASA’s Instagram page. It’s hard to resist browsing through their account which is filled with updates on ongoing projects, images of the Earth from space and informational snippets on various astronomical phenomenon.

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What adds to the appeal of the pictures themselves, are the short descriptive paragraphs that accompany them. The captions are educational but also terse enough to suit the platform and prevent fatigue to the reader.

Product art- Frooti

How does a beverage primarily targeted towards children make a place for itself on Instagram?

Frooti, owned by Parle-Agro India Pvt. Ltd, is an Indian mango flavored drink that’s been around for over three decades. Historically, their commercials were targeted towards kids. However, their recent campaigns are a lot more diverse.

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The Frooti life, their Instagram handle, is all about re-imagining the product with an arty twist. The focus is on using bright colours, mostly dominated by shades of yellow and orange, with an interesting use of negative space. Each picture is a creative spectacle that manages to capture the essence of the product in a clever way that translates to art.

Attracting talent- We Work

There is an element of charm associated with working at a cool place. Life goals have changed drastically over the last few decades and spending your work-life at a place that mirrors your personality figures right on top of the list.

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WeWork’s Instagram page is all about cool. Considering their business model is about providing better work spaces for collaboration, it’s crucial that their own workplace reflects the vision. But apart from doing an exemplary job at showcasing their commitment to a better way of living, they use the page to attract like minded talent. It’s the most honest way of hiring talent: instead of telling them how great the place is, just show them visual proof of your claim.

Company news and updates- Cisco

Instagram is a great place to post teasers and updates about upcoming events and important milestones for an organization. The conversational nature of the platform encourages multiple updates and makes it ideal for generating buzz ahead of big releases or announcements.

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Cisco’s Instagram page is a perfect example of using the platform to broadcast information about the company. Their posts are centered around upcoming events, current projects, new centre launches and other informational updates.

Product innovation- Nikelab

Constant innovation is the only way to stay relevant and continuously appeal to your audience. While there are many industries that have research and creativity at the core of their existence, would it be surprising to know of a shoe manufacturer with the same commitment to innovation?

It’s true that referring to Nike as just a shoe manufacturer is reductive in every sense. Nike has grown to become synonymous with sports, has an enviable digital presence and creates commercials that are nothing short of inspirational. It also has one of the most popular Instagram accounts and boasts of over 42 million followers.

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However, this post is about the lesser known Nikelab account that focusses on how Nike is disrupting the sports and apparel industry. Each post is about remarkable design advances, improved usability features and technology upgrades that cater to one need: creating better looking, super comfortable athletic gear.

Visual storytelling – Fedex

Who doesn’t love getting a package in the mail?

Global shipping and delivery giant Fedex, is next on our list of Instagram greats. All Instagram accounts, at least the good ones, are about using images to tell a story. While Fedex does an amazing job at that, what truly sets them apart is the subtlety with which they include themselves in the visual narrative.

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The level of creativity in the images is spectacular. After the first few images, your eyes automatically go looking for the hidden Fedex in the picture in a ‘Where’s Waldo’ kind of game. The subtlety accounts for a large part of Fedex’s charm because it depicts the quiet reality of how Fedex works in the shadows, without really being noticed. At the same time, it makes you realise how their services form an integral part of so many happy endings.

The quirk factor- Palace Skateboards

Palace Skateboards defines quirk. However, the London based streetwear brand is making waves among hipsters and trendsetters for more than just fashion. Everything from the product descriptions on the website to their edgy advertising is about saying things differently and not being apologetic about it.

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Their Instagram page has an interesting mix of product descriptions, catalogue excerpts and imaginative pictures that capture the essence of the brand.

Success on Instagram isn’t elusive

So, what does it take to develop an engaging presence for brands on Instagram?

We’ve looked at loads of great Instagram handles, drooled over hundreds of images and come up with a few rules that can help:

  • Keep it real
  • Develop a distinct personality
  • Give it time
  • Be consistent and post as often as you can
  • Keep each post simple but ensure that it is well thought out
  • Have fun while you’re at it

The best part about Instagram is that it presents you with a limited number of options. You can either browse through pictures, comment on the ones you like or post your own. That’s pretty much it. But it is this limitation that makes it challenging. The way you choose to use Instagram depends on what you want to achieve and who you are as a brand.

 

If you’re planning to kick-start your Instagram strategy or are trying to increase the activity on your existing page, take inspiration from these stellar brands on Instagram and see how they translate to better awareness.

If there are any other cool ways you’ve used Instagram that we haven’t covered in this post (sigh), do drop us a tweet @epictions and we’ll add them to our list!