How 5 brands just plain kill it on Instagram

The mastery of the platform is something to behold—and to ‘borrow’ from to enhance your own organization’s profile and engagement on the image-drenched website.

Instagram is a relatively new social platform, but that hasn’t stopped brand managers from jumping on it like it’s the best thing sliced bread.

That’s where the danger occurs, because unless you use Instagram properly, it can become a problem. The platform affords you opportunities to brand your organization effectively and to create genuine engagement, but getting it right isn’t always easy.

If there are lessons to be learned about Instagram and its possibilities, you’ll find them in these companies’ examples:

Lego: Perfect timing with perfect video

This company has a plethora of Instagram accounts (because it has a plethora of products), but the official one is the flagbearer.

Come here for all things Lego—and a glimpse of marketing genius. The company knows it has one of the most visual products around, and it uses its Instagram channel to convey the instant joy that people feel when they see Lego projects done well.

Lego changed its game as soon as it started hitting the film and TV markets with its figures—these days, if it’s a blockbuster movie, there’s a Lego set for it. The Lego team is also working hard to make memorable images and videos for Instagram.

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but this “Star Wars” Lego video that worked on the father/son relationship and latched onto the Father’s Day vibe is a perfect example of the high-quality, well-produced and well-timed Instagram content its team is producing.

Happy (I am your) Father’s Day to all #LEGO dads! #LEGOStarWars #FathersDay #HappyFathersDay

A video posted by LEGO (@lego) on Jun 21, 2015 at 5:19am PDT

Mercedes: Changing the future of car sales

Mercedes-Benz has always been a bit of a trailblazer, but its approach to Instagram marketing is groundbreaking.

Take any car manufacturer’s site for a spin, and pretty soon you’ll be able to “choose your car,” through color choices, wheel choices and so on. Mercedes took that a step further by creating a multitude of accounts on Instagram and enabling people to build their own GLA (a rather snazzy Mercedes model). Every permutation and customization was available through tagging.

At the end of the process, users of the service were encouraged by Mercedes to take the finished photo and specs to their local Mercedes dealership. In other words, customers were walked through the building of their dream Mercedes and then pulled toward the checkout. It’s marketing genius.

Reportedly, it cost the company almost nothing to create this experience, yet the end result has been worth millions. The @MBUSA Instagram account gained 20,000 followers as a direct result. Mercedes found a whole new audience on social media, and that interactivity was an essential element. It brought huge results.

Ready to build a car on Instagram?

A photo posted by @gla_build_your_own on Sep 18, 2014 at 1:03pm PDT

Xbox: A study in cool imagery

Xbox has a huge, dedicated fan base, so it would’ve been pretty difficult to screw up the Instagram account. It’s important to remember, though, that said fans weren’t necessarily on Instagram.

They are now.

With an incredibly clever focus on the visual aspect of Instagram and the cheekiness and cool factor that Xbox has, the company has possibly the best-looking account out there. It’s full of incredible photos that not only look good, but also make you puzzle over how they did it.

For example, the one we have linked to below shows an Xbox controller (no slouch in the style stakes) looking incredibly sexy with a Forza theme. Making the controller look like a next-generation sports car can’t have been easy, but Microsoft pulled strings and created an amazing image.

The outcome? Over 43,000 “likes” and counting. Best of all, there are over 2,000 comments on this post alone—not bad coming from an audience that doesn’t really have much time for that social media thing (not when there’s gaming to be done).

If you have time, it’s worth checking out the Xbox Instagram account. It’s huge, and there are many amazing images there.

Ready. Set. #Race. #Xbox #Forza #racing #controller #gaming #XboxOne

A photo posted by Xbox (@xbox) on Dec 30, 2014 at 9:07am PST

Red Bull: Building anticipation and then delivering gratification

We know, Red Bull can’t really do a thing wrong on social media, but it keeps surprising us again and again. Huge and completely confident in its ability to create viral content, Red Bull crafted the video below, which is perfect for Instagram.

It’s short and sweet, and there is absolutely no way you’ll take your eyes away from the screen until the end. The level of expectation is huge, and you simply have to wait for the payoff.

It’s perfectly shot, and you instantly feel as though you’ve gained the satisfaction you wanted at the end of it, so it has an immediate effect on you-just like the drink.

We’ve tried to not spoil this one for you. Just watch it:

Throwback Thursday. @antdavis_23

A video posted by Red Bull (@redbull) on Jun 25, 2015 at 4:03pm PDT

H&M: Lose the models, focus on the product

We’ve said this time and time again: If you’re selling stuff (as in clothing or other physical products) you’ll be a lot happier on visual social media if you don’t use models.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that showing your products without human beings next to them (or wearing them) gives the audience a lot more opportunity for pure imagining. You can envision using that gorgeous phone more vividly if you don’t see anyone else using it. You can imagine wearing those pants better if no one is filling them.

Though this might not mean the death of the modeling industry, it’s certainly becoming a trend. H&M knows this. It has model-free shots interspersed throughout their Instagram account, and the results have been excellent.

Take the one we’ve linked to below. It has 133,000 “likes” and nearly 650 comments so far. It’s a perfect example of the “no models” rule. Whether you like H&M or not, you can’t deny that this is an excellent shot and it’s all the better for not having any models in it.

The takeaways

Instagram is a visual platform, of course, but you can’t crack it with simple photos you took at the office. These brands manage it well, and they (collectively) do the following:

  • Focus on a product, rather than the models who may wear it. (H&M)
  • Use timeliness. (Lego)
  • Build anticipation with video, and then deliver. (Red Bull)
  • Make the photos incredible. (Xbox)
  • Maximize interaction. (Mercedes-Benz)

If you’re going to “do” Instagram, do it right. Follow the examples these companies set, and you should find that the platform becomes a real winner for you.

Marko Saric is an advisor and blogger at A version of this article originally appeared on Locowise.

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