Instagram is a veritable goldmine of marketing strategy and visual inspiration, with many brands utilizing the platform to share visual content and connect with their audience. One of the best ways to make your own business successful on Instagram is to take inspiration from other companies that are doing it well. To help you do that, we put together this list of seven companies that are successful on Instagram and discuss why what they're doing works so well.
What kind of content performs best on Instagram?
Instagram can feel like a constant, enigmatic push-and-pull of what works well and what doesn't perform, but there are some key guidelines you can follow to help ensure your content performs well and encourages your followers to engage. With each post, you should aim to have these elements:
1. Quality visual content
This doesn't necessarily have to be a professionally shot and edited photo; it can be a short video, a fun reel or an interesting graphic. However, it should be a high-quality visual, which means it shouldn't be blurry, pixelated or unrelated to your brand.
Instagram is first and foremost a visual platform, so putting good visuals on your page is the most important thing you should do to be successful. If you want, you can go a step further and create a strategy for a cohesive look on your profile, using filters and carefully selecting your images to have similar colors or vibes.
2. Interesting captions
While captions are secondary to the visual content, they still play an important role in engagement. Make sure all of your captions are clear, free of errors, and engaging and include a call to action – directing followers to a link in your bio, for example. Try to maintain a consistent voice in all of your captions that fits and supports your brand.
3. Relevant hashtags
Hashtags make it possible for your content to be discovered by new followers and tracked by existing ones, so you should make a point to include a few on each of your posts. You don't want too many, however, as that can make your caption look cluttered. Aim for three or four hashtags at most; if you feel the need for more, you can use them in the comments.
It can be helpful to create a hashtag that's unique to your brand or specific campaign to make the posts stand out and easy to find.
4. Engagement with followers
Engagement begets engagement, meaning if you engage with your followers, they'll engage back. Try to reply to comments and DMs, tag followers where applicable, and consider using follower-submitted content. This shows your followers that you care about them and want to build a community with them.
7 best Instagram business accounts
Looking at other businesses' successful accounts on Instagram can be a great way to get inspiration and learn how to adapt the strategies that work for other organizations to your own business. These brands have mastered the elements of solid imagery, engaging captions, and communication with followers. We've identified some of the most successful businesses on Instagram and broken down why they're successful, as well as what you can learn from them.
Go Fund Yourself
What it is: The Go Fund Yourself Instagram page is created by Alice Tapper, the founder and author of Go Fund Yourself, an online platform and book by the same name. The GFY Instagram account serves as an accompaniment to Tapper's brand and book, which focus on teaching young people the ins and outs of personal finances that they "weren't taught in school."
Why it works: The GFY Instagram works because it knows its audience – young people interested in learning about personal finance – which makes Instagram the perfect platform to reach them. GFY also has a solid grasp on its brand, which makes it easy to create content that hits.
"[GFY] knows what it wants to achieve and does it perfectly," said Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. "Its aim is to have simple and easy-to-understand tips for getting your finances on track pop up on your timeline."
What it is: As one of the best-known brands in the world, Apple utilizes its Instagram account to showcase the capabilities of its products through its #shotoniPhone campaign, which encourages users to submit photographs taken on their iPhones.
Followers: 24 million
Why it works: Apple uses Instagram for what its iPhone does best – capturing beautiful images – in a way that actively engages its followers and utilizes a custom hashtag. The result is an Instagram grid that's pleasing to look at and makes you feel engaged and interested as a customer. By using its Instagram this way, Apple is marketing its product without ever posting a photo or caption about that product.
"Apple wants you to see what their hard work amounted to," said SEO consultant Daniel Foley. "They want you to see what you could do if you bought their products."
What it is: BossBabe is a popular blog and online community that focuses on entrepreneurial women. It was founded by two millennial women and serial entrepreneurs who wanted to help other women launch their careers, which they do via their blog, membership site and Instagram. On these platforms, they share inspirational quotes, connect with their followers and feature profiles on inspirational women.
Followers: 2.6 million
Why it works: BossBabe is successful on Instagram because of its high engagement, knowledge of its market and audience, and transparency with followers.
"BossBabe is my favorite account because they give behind-the-scenes looks at the owners' actual lifestyles and business, and the account does a really great job interacting with its audience," said Stacy Caprio, marketing and SEO expert. "Every time I've DM'd, I've gotten a response almost instantly."
BossBabe's Instagram also features a cohesive look with similar colors, uniform fonts and a clear visual style that makes scrolling through its feed pleasing to the eye.
What it is: Fast-food brand Wendy's has become well known for its lively, pop culture-ridden and cheeky tweets in recent years, and its Instagram is no exception to its inventive social media strategy. Its Instagram page is a masterful mishmash of traditional food shots, memes that appeal to Gen Z, and user-generated content that makes for a highly engaging and fun feed.
Followers: 1 million
Why it works: Wendy's made a name for itself on social media through sassy tweets, and it wisely carried that strategy over to its other social media platforms. The strategy works because Wendy's posts are genuinely funny and work within the various meme formats; they don't come off as trying too hard to relate to their audience. Wendy's also intersperses the pop culture content with traditional shots and captions relating to its food, which keeps the content grounded and related to the product.
What it is: Google uses Instagram as a place to showcase its products, people, and ideas, all in an innovative, artsy Google style. Its Instagram thrives off of variety, with reels, graphics, photographs and videos all featured throughout the feed. Google also gained success with Instagram followers through its #MySuperG user-generated content campaign, encouraging followers to create the iconic Google "G" logo out of various materials and designs using a branded hashtag.
Followers: 12.2 million
Why it works: Google's Instagram is a flawless and direct extension of its brand – clean, artsy and visually engaging, with plenty of user engagement.
"Google is an excellent business page to follow for their informative, fun and quirky posts," said Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva. "People anticipate Google's next artsy creations, and it's a reason why their followers choose to continue following their page."
What it is: Netflix's Instagram is, true to the brand, video-heavy and filled with pop culture references and jokes. It features and promote its movies and TV shows with short clips, GIFs, and memes that use details and branded content from the shows and movies themselves. This approach is fun for viewers and incorporates fresh imagery.
Followers: 24.8 million
Why it works: Netflix knows that its greatest strength is the content on its streaming platform, and it makes full use of that content on its Instagram. The company knows it would not be worth its time, nor in the interest of its followers, to try to come up with original content strictly for Instagram. It does an excellent job of repurposing content from the streaming platform and relating it to memes and pop culture references through its Instagram visuals and captions.
"Netflix shares iconic scenes from movies to entice people to watch films," said Jerry Han, chief marketing executive at PrizeRebel. "Aside from being funny, these movie moments help keep the relevancy and demand for media consumption high."
What it is: As a global sportswear brand, Adidas takes a unique approach to Instagram by not promoting or featuring its products; rather, the focus of the Adidas account is its athletes and mission statement: "Through sport, we have the power to change lives."
Followers: 25.9 million
Why it works: Adidas knows that an Instagram page full of pictures of shirts and sneakers wouldn't be appealing and engaging for users – that's what an online store is for. Instead, it chose to make its Instagram account embody the company's mission statement, which doubles as its Instagram bio. This gives Adidas the feel of a brand followers can aspire to and be inspired by without being sold to, while showcasing its brand personality and encouraging user engagement.
"Their profile embodies the message that nothing is impossible," said Hamna Amjad, marketing consultant at Gigworker. "Through their posts, they push people to break all sorts of boundaries and accomplish everything that seems out of reach."