Brands Raising the Bar on Instagram: And what we can all learn from following along

Williams SonomaWhen I got home on Thursday night my husband asked me how a client meeting had gone earlier in the afternoon. I replied, “The meeting went great. Spent a lot of time talking about social media and Instagram.”

Blank stare.

Yes, on a daily basis my Google Chrome tabs are open to Facebook and Pinterest and I’m scrolling through Instagram on my phone simultaneously. No, I am not wasting time. I am doing my job. How cool is that?

Until recently I have purposely kept my personal Instagram feed focused on personal interests. I followed mainly family and friends and have kept my profile private to avoid the free-for-all that my Facebook page became several years ago.

While my profile is still private, I have opened up to following brands that I really admire and my mind is blown by the mix of refreshingly simple and more complex and curated content that is being posted.

Below are takeaways from brands large and small that I believe can be adapted for organizations of any size:

  • Repurpose content thoughtfully. Even huge brands like Williams-Sonoma repurpose content across multiple social media platforms. But it is their strategic formula for re-posting that makes it work. For example, #RecipeoftheDay photos get play on Instagram and Facebook. However, the captions vary quite a bit. “Don’t mess with a good thing,” describes the Salt & Pepper Shrimp recipe on Instagram, while the Facebook post allures followers with the promise of the dish as “the perfect small bite.” Different audiences – all hungry – and tailored messages for each.
  • Don’t overthink it. Hailee Grace is a small and affordable Denver women’s boutique in Larimer Square. I am extremely impressed with the store’s Instagram content, which is simply curated for their young and fashion-forward customers. Most photos look to be taken with an iPhone, some use basic filters. Affordable outfit and accessory combinations are deconstructed prior to holidays such as July 4th, and press hits are cross-promoted, giving added life to reviews in 5280 and on morning TV segments.
  • Cross-promote to grow. PhotoBarn is a small company that creates gorgeous prints of your favorite photos on wooden blocks, boards and burlap. To help grow its Instagram presence, a natural place for the photographer-owned business, the company utilized its existing newsletter database to launch an Instagram contest. The execution was clean and simple—go follow PhotoBarn on Instagram for a chance to win a framed print. I do not know what the follower numbers were before the contest, but as of today they have nearly 1,500 followers.
  • Use the entire Instagram profile. Pictures are 99 percent of the platform, but don’t forget about the section for a brief company descriptor and profile photo. The Chia Company has done a great job of updating the company profile to highlight the “right now” of the brand. As of today, the entire company descriptor is dedicated to a newly-launched sweepstakes to win a trip to Australia. You have my attention Chia Company!
  • Turn employees into Instagram ambassadors. Global giant Reebok turned the keys over to its biggest fans—employees. #EmployeeTakeover generated employee photos of everything from post-workout “power salads” to after-hours workouts at Reebok headquarters. The brand’s Instagram feed is proof that your employees are among the strongest – and already vetted – ambassadors for the brand.

What brands are getting it right in your Instagram feed?

~Alexis Anderson

Food, fitness and fashion Instagram junkie

One thought on “Brands Raising the Bar on Instagram: And what we can all learn from following along

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