Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social networks; 400 million members share 80 million pieces of visual content daily. It’s the network that gets the highest engagement per post at more than 4 percent, whereas Facebook and Twitter achieve less than 1 percent.
Such eye-catching stats might lead you to expect companies to flock to Instagram to appeal to its active, engaged audiences. However, only 34 percent of brands are on Instagram, compared to 80 percent and 70 percent on Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
What gives? In defense of Instagram, it is still relatively new, and companies often see its users as a more niche audience. It’s easy for companies to write off Instagram because they don’t feel its products or services are visual enough, but most industries find a way to make it work. Some of the most successful Instagram accounts don’t promote their offerings, but zero in on their team, facility, and technology.
If you’re unsure whether your company is a good fit for Instagram, or you simply want to strengthen your profile, take a page from six brands that absolutely kill it on the network:
Nasty Gal — 1.8 million followers
Nasty Gal began its rise to fashion royalty on Myspace (when that was still a thing). There isn’t a better place to start than with a brand that was launched through the help of social media. Before becoming a full-blown ecommerce business (that now has two brick-and-mortar stores in Los Angeles), Nasty Gal relied on social media to track the latest trends and see what its consumers were talking about.
As Nasty Gal evolved over the past few years, they’ve continued their social media dominance, especially on Instagram. Instagram naturally lends itself to edgy, fashionable images, which is exactly what Nasty Gal stands for. It’s a company with sass and attitude, and that’s what its audience loves about it.
On its Instagram account, you’ll have a visual experience that perfectly mirrors its website, providing brand continuity. It’s also created the hashtag, #NastyGalsDoItBetter, that it shares across social networks. Nasty Gal’s clothing and accessories are bright, glamorous, and far from ordinary-and it places these pieces on neutral backgrounds so that the products remain the focal point. This simplicity prevents distractions, while adding to that luxurious, high-fashion feel.
Takeaway: Let your products and services do the talking. Complex backgrounds or exotic landscapes aren’t always necessary to evoke your brand image.
GoPro — 6.7 million followers
GoPro is the perfect example of a company that doesn’t have an attractive or flashy product, but GoPro’s industry, photography, lends itself precisely to Instagram. In most of its posts, you don’t see GoPro cameras at all, but rather the point of view from the camera.
In addition to its very desirable cameras, GoPro has created a culture of adventure for its brand. Every image it shares poses the question, where will you take your GoPro next? Some of these visuals capture once-in-a-lifetime experiences; others show you how to incorporate a GoPro into your day-to-day activities.
These vivid, adrenaline-inducing images on their Instagram account feature their product without outwardly promoting it and suggest, “Hey, here’s our camera. You should go buy it!”
GoPro is a brand that clearly fits the Instagram model, and it exemplifies industries that may not have beautiful products, but make thrilling, visually appealing experiences possible.
Takeaway: Look beyond your product or service to how your customers use it, and make that use your Instagram strategy.
Warby Parker — 199,000 followers
Warby Parker was largely unknown until recently. It has its social media savvy to thank for its rapid rise in the eyeglass industry. Affordable products, hassle-free returns, and charity ingrained in its culture and business are all part of Warby Parker’s social presence. Its followers have grown exponentially in the past couple of years.
Its Instagram account shows a combination of original and customer-submitted photos that balance practicality and comic relief perfectly. In many images, dogs wear its glasses. It’s not a typical American corporation. Other images feature just glasses in order to make glasses the focus of the post, as well as situations where you would likely need your glasses, such as at school or work.
Beyond its products, Warby Parker is also known for its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” initiative, For every pair that is purchased, WP donates a pair to someone in need. So far it’s donated more than one million pairs of glasses, and it hasn’t stopped yet. Instagram is a great way to get customers on board with a cause close to your heart, while adding a human element to your social presence.
Takeaway: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Let followers see the human face of your brand.
FIJI Water — 43,500 followers
FIJI Water sells a basic product with a high-class feel. Water may not seem like an industry that could capitalize on the visual nature of Instagram, but FIJI crushes that notion. Yes, staring at images of water bottles would induce tedium quickly, but FIJI Water’s Instagram profile is a nice blend of product placement and beautiful scenery. The company differentiates itself by bottling its water at a spring in Fiji, and their imagery of bright blue water and quiet, gorgeous landscapes plays perfectly.
Its Instagram photos show everyday situations where one would be likely to have a bottle of water by one’s side. FIJI fits its “luxury brand” into consumers’ daily regimens. FIJI shows its water as an inevitable complement to a healthy lifestyle, positioning a bottle of its water next to a home-cooked meal or close to someone engaging in physical activity.
A potential point of contention is FIJI’s price. Its water sells for two or three times the price of its competitors. But you don’t get that feel from FIJI on Instagram. It presents its brand as welcoming and relatable, giving it a recognizable voice in a monotonous industry. FIJI Water balances luxury and leisure perfectly, and its strategy could be copied by many luxury brands that fear alienating potential customers.
Takeaway: Luxury brands can be approachable.
NFL — 4.3 million followers
Most sports enthusiasts on Instagram probably follow the NFL. The account serves as a central location for everything you need to keep up with the league. The NFL covers each team fairly in an engaging way.
The fantasy football craze is at its apex. Instagram serves as a perfect platform for the sports-obsessed to recap the week. The NFL’s Instagram posts include highlights, promos for forthcoming Sunday and Monday Night Football games, scores, player stats, and more. If you miss a game, just check out the NFL Instagram account for everything you need to know to get caught up.
The NFL sets a perfect example for brands that don’t provide a tangible product, but an experience or entertainment. Companies can exploit Instagram by playing off of consumer emotions, telling a story, and giving them a VIP experience.
Takeaway: You don’t have to sell a physical product to market well on Instagram.
Reynold’s Wrap — 7,887 followers
You read right. The company that sells aluminum foil and wax paper is not only on Instagram, but is a model of how to do it right. Since Reynold’s Wrap closely ties to the food and beverage industry, it emphasizes the dishes you can make with its products.
The most captivating part of this account is that each food image connects to the next one. Other brands have copied this idea. It’s interesting that a company with seemingly little to offer visually has made an Instagram name for itself.
Takeaway: Even the most utilitarian brands can be social media game-changers.
Instagram’s astonishing growth has stimulated social media marketers to figure out how they can make it work for their companies. These six brands span several industries and many products and services. All have made a big splash on the network, which shows that almost anyone can get involved. Just stay true to your brand and create an intelligent, balanced, visual mix of promotional and non-promotional content.
This article originally appeared on Mainstreethost.