Last year, we established that Instagram is an influential force in the fashion industry. The platform has provided fashion figures and fans with the ability to share and consume content in an incredibly unique way. Fashion brands bought into it, too. Retailers from Forever 21 to Nordstrom are not only sharing beautiful images on Instagram, but they’re relying on the channel as a viable driver of revenue. Today’s marketers know that there’s no disputing the value of Instagram in the retail world.

But Instagram is more than just a platform to share #ootd photos and buy awesome winter boots. There’s a massive opportunity for brands across all industries to reach consumers and market on Instagram. Here’s how seven companies across different verticals—from travel and automotive to CPG—are doing it.

1. Auto: smart USA personifies its cars.


You know the drill. You’re home in time for your favorite TV show, so instead of DVRing, you decide to watch it live. Needless to say, car commercial after car commercial comes on. Unless you’re paying attention or you’re familiar with the specs of a particular vehicle, the ads all sort of blur together.

Instagram is a great way for auto brands to set themselves apart. For example, smart USA shares photos of mini cars in front of urban art installments and recognizable monuments. The photos are memorable, and perhaps even more valuably – the images give the cars a persona. The brand’s Instagram feed tells users that smart USA vehicles are versatile, creative and downright fun.

2. B2B: GE fuels education and exploration.

B2B marketers often lament that their brands aren’t “sexy” enough to market on channels such as Instagram. GE completely defies that notion.

Much like it does on other platforms, the brand uses Instagram as an opportunity to create conversations surrounding STEM topics. The photos are typically coupled with a caption providing the audience with a bit of context.


This is the best approach for a B2B brand that might not have products or services to sell to the general public. As GE continues to prove, Instagram is a fantastic medium to educate, explore and even promote career opportunities.

3. CPG: Oreo expands its lighthearted approach.

In addition to being loved for those tasty black-and-white cookies, Oreo is constantly lauded for its content marketing strategies. Who can forget the famous “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet that made waves during the Super Bowl blackout of 2013?


On Instagram, the brand couples its familiar lighthearted approach with an informative style. Not only does Oreo’s feed highlight witty photos that consumers can’t help but like, but it also features Oreo-centric recipes that expand fans’ methods of eating the cookie.

4. Fitness: CrossFit takes its fans to the limit.

Instagram has a major fitness community. People turn to the channel to share progress photos, motivational quotes and to get inspired by others. Fitness brands that don’t take advantage of this are missing out on an incredible opportunity.

CrossFit isn’t quite a product or a service; it’s more of a philosophy, so it isn’t necessarily pushing products on Instagram. The brand takes to the platform to post images of people pushing themselves to the limit in breathtaking locations, as well as instructional videos. Fans respond well to the photos, expressing that they’ll give particular exercises a try next time they hit the gym.


5. F&B: Whataburger keeps it real.

Food and beverage brands would do well to take a tip from Whataburger. The brand posts photos that range from funny to inspirational to #goals.


Some F&B brands rely only on stock imagery in their marketing material. This is the wrong approach … particularly on Instagram. Millennials account for 70% of Instagram’s user base, according to an October 2015 GfK MRI survey. These consumers are highly cognizant of how brands market to them. They fully understand that when they visit a restaurant, their meal won’t look much like the professional photo they saw online.

F&B brands would benefit by sharing authentic photos of their products. Not only will they come across as more engaging, but they’ll also induce a hankering for those treats.

6. Travel: Hyatt shares views from the top.

Nothing induces FOMO (‘fear of missing out’) like seeing a photo of a friend sipping a tropical drink on a Hawaiian beach, or an image of a coworker strolling through the streets of Bangkok. From the dreaming phase of travel all the way to celebration, consumers turn to Instagram to revel in their wanderlust.

Hyatt taps into this perfectly. The brand relies on its Instagram feed to share scenic views from its properties, local hotspots and Hyatt guests in action. By encouraging guests to share their travel photos, the brand garners more than enough creative to work with.


Trips do require some planning, so it’s unrealistic to expect a significant number of travelers to book immediately after engaging with a photo on Instagram. However, photos like the ones posted by Hyatt are indispensable. They plant the seed every traveler needs to start aspiring and researching for a trip.

7. Publishing: Time Inc. shows that a picture is worth 1,000 words.

A publisher that produces a ton of written content might not immediately consider Instagram a valuable marketing channel. This notion is misguided. The phrase “A picture is worth 1,000 words” has never been truer. Time Inc. is a prime example.

In 2014, Time ran a user-generated content campaign on Instagram titled #howiholiday. Throughout December, brands and audiences shared festive photos of their holiday travels, meals, décor and celebrations. The best photos were regrammed by Time Inc. brands, including Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure. They received hundreds of thousands of submissions, and tons of user engagement.


To get even more out of Instagram, publishers should take advantage of the link in their Instagram bios to drive traffic back to their sites … or maybe even to advertisers and other partners.

Take your best shot!

So there you have it – regardless of your industry, there’s a significant chance that Instagram can work for you. Whether the photos originate from you or your fans, make sure that they capture a feeling, feel native to the platform, and drive users to relevant products and content. Need help getting started? Take a look at our “Instafamous!” guide for tips on how to take stunning snapshots for Instagram.