2 Top Brands Succeeding at Instagram and What You Can Learn From Them


We are still relatively early in the cycle when it comes to Instagram brand adoption.

The fact that 40% of the Interbrand 100 now have a profile is quite impressive given the network’s size, mobile-only focus, and lack of features to enable corporate users.

It’s clear that Instagram has quickly become its own valid community in the social arena, and several major brands are taking advantage of that opportunity to grow their own unique Instagram followings.

A few companies have gained a significant footing in the early race for Instagram’s 80-million plus users.

Let’s take a closer look at how two impressive brands, Audi and Sharpie, have tapped into this growing opportunity (analytics from Simply Measured’s new Instagram reporting).

Driving Engagement: How Audi is Interacting with Their Audience

Audi is a prime example of a company that has taken Instagram seriously and seen it pay off. While they don’t have the audience of some other top Instagram players (like MTV’s  813k followers and Starbucks’ 758k), they engage the audience they do have – which, at 104,511 and growing, is nothing to scoff at – at a much higher level.

Since June 20th, Audi’s seen an engagement rate of 40,500 interactions for every 10,000 fans they have. How does that break down? They average 1,423 “likes” and 34 comments per photo. Paired with a relatively high frequency of posts (normally one a day), this adds up quickly.

This success could be more about what the folks at Audi aren’t doing, rather than what they are. Instead of using Instagram to announce promotions and deals or drive that audience to sale pages and Facebook contests (of which they have plenty), Audi simply uses the image-sharing space to share…well…images.

Does it help that Audi makes a visually appealing product? Absolutely.

But they don’t post random snapshots either. Each photo seems to be a hand-picked, well-edited shot, either submitted by a fan or borrowed from Audi’s own marketing material. Combined with a generous use of the Instagram’s filters, focused tags and captions conveying their excitement (their most-used tag isn’t a type of vehicle, it’s “awesome”), Audi seems to have found a forum that both engages and excites their fans without driving them elsewhere.

Draw Your Own Conclusions: Sharpie’s Personal Touch

It’s hard to deny that some of Audi’s success in a photo-only network is due to their photogenic product. They have teams of engineers and designers that work year round to shape and develop their cars, which look great on camera. But you don’t have to be a top luxury car brand to successfully use Instagram.

Sharpie, who isn’t even on the Interbrand 100 list we used for our study, caught our eye as another creative user of Instagram. The marker makers at Sharpie have used Instagram as an opportunity to put a personal face on their messaging. That face is usually scribbled on a sheet of loose leaf, but it still adds a human touch.

Sharpie posts pictures drawn and submitted by fans, as well as their own remarkably talented interns. Doing so doesn’t only show off the capabilities of their product, but also gives a unique glimpse at the fun side to their office, and creates a community of users who want to showcase their talent and share their art.

This philosophy has helped Sharpie build an Instagram network of 19,200 followers and growing, with an average of 772 engagements per photo.

Final Filters

The lesson to be learned from both companies is that no matter your product, there’s a way for you to brand yourself visually, creatively engage your followers, develop a relationship with your share of these 80-million consumers, and then measure the success of those relationships to foster them and help them grow.

How is your brand using Instagram?


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