9 Instagram Marketing Strategies for Sustainable Growth

How do you create an Instagram marketing strategy that gets your business noticed by a LOT of people?

If you’re an agency or a brand, and this is your first year on Instagram, you should make it a priority to find top brands with a lot of followers. After all, their popularity and fame, is a testament to their effective strategy.

What are these brands or businesses? Why should you follow them? Check out this list and learn from these strategies, so you’ll be bound for success by your one-year anniversary.

1. Calm

Calm is an app that encourages regular meditation to make people feel better and sleep happier. It recently won the “2017 iPhone App of the Year” and attracted 465,000 followers as a result of these calming Instagram strategies:

Sleep Stories

Calm posts Instagram “Sleep Stories” which are the adult equivalent of bedtime stories.

There are tales from the lush sequoia forests of California, the Amazon forests of Brazil, to the planets and stardust outer space and so on. These give listeners a chance to power down their minds, so they can enter a deep sleep.


#dailycalm posts

Paranoid about your promotion? Afraid you’re not good enough? Stressed out because your goals are out of reach? If you feel any of the above, then don’t worry! Head over to Calm’s Instagram account to relax and let go:


Calm has a mix of #dailycalm quotes that remind worrywarts to breathe, ask help and slow down.


There are also videos that will guide your daily meditation practice:


These are not “unique” posts but they have a practical benefit for followers.

Since Calm helps users who are distracted or plagued with worries, their account is an online space where they can unwind, during the times when they need it the most.

Masterclass Promotions

Got a new online course?

Calm used Instagram videos to promote its masterclass on calm by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, protagonist of BBC One’s TV series. The one-day course tackles meditation tips, diet and lifestyle changes, to help brand advocates take control of their health and live their best life.


Year of Calm campaign

The #yearofCalm campaign is a monthly meditation challenge.

It highlights the importance of mindfulness in everyday life through accomplishing tasks in the Mindful Living Calendar—downloaded from their website. The brand posts monthly reminders, at the beginning of each month, to inspire followers to join the challenge.


Brand #2 Blue Apron

For the uninitiated. Blue Apron makes cooking fun and easy.

It provides people with the recipe and the ingredients necessary to make a delicious meal in exactly the right proportions. Not only do they have an awesome service for foodies, but they also have a mouth-watering Instagram marketing strategy:

Mouth-Watering Instagram Feed

Blue Apron’s Instagram marketing strategy isn’t a small feat.

A great Instagram feed requires a lot of effort and planning. It’s not easy to photograph food in such a way that makes people stop and stare, but the brand gets it done.


Educational Content

According to Science Direct, our physical response to food photos is to get hungry.

Unfortunately, in the online world, the dishes of our wildest dreams are only for our eyes to see. We don’t get the recipes or the names of these dishes, so we can’t make them a reality.

This is why Blue Apron posts recipes and videos of how their dishes are made on Instagram.


There are also Q&As and hacks from chefs:


A wine connoisseur? No worries! Blue Apron has a guide on wines, and tips on which ones are best paired with cheese.


Collaborations with Companies and Influencers

Blue Apron has an upcoming collaboration with long-time epicurean Chrissy Teigen.

The partnership will feature meal kits and home recipes from Cravings, her best-selling cookbook.


Recently, Blue Apron also partnered with Airbnb for the campaign “The Best Home Cooking from Around the World,” featuring dishes curated for Airbnb Experiences in places like Paris, Florence, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and Shanghai.

For example, the post on Parisian Steak Frites with Roasted Broccoli & Lemon Aioli, from Monia Kashmire and Nicolas Derrstroff were inspired by local experiences in Paris, France.


The post on Buenos Aires Beef Empanadas with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Creamy Zucchini, are Argentinian dishes by Anahi Stratta, Adrian Stratta and Marcelo Misson.


Given how much these dishes will motivate you to get out on the road or book a flight, the collaboration seems to be a mutual success for both parties.

3. Camping With Dogs

Camping With Dogs is a lifestyle brand for outdoorsy dog owners. While the brand sells dog gear, t-shirt and hats; it has unique strategies that has grabbed dog lovers from across the world:

UGC campaign: #campingwithdogs

Unlike most brands, Camping With dogs didn’t focus on their own products.

The clothing company encouraged followers to post cute pet photos with the #campingwithdogs hashtag. The best ones are reposted on the brand’s Instagram feed and are effective at spreading brand awareness.

In fact, among their 528,000 followers—most have discovered them through their user-generated content.

From puppies enjoying the wildlife to older pups having adventures, their account gives you the push you need to go outdoors and buy their products.

camping-with-dogs-instagram-marketing-strategy camping-with-dogs-instagram-marketing-strategy

The best part?

There’s no effort required to create great content.

They simply pick from their followers’ post and repost it on the site.

Instagram Ads

Once the brand managed to attract new fans and engage the existing ones, they used Instagram ads to promote their merchandise. They posted dog-themed shirts and outdoor gear with a Shop Now button that’s linked to their website.

This enables viewers to quickly buy the product with a tap of their smartphone.


The campaign got a 10x return on ad spend. This success was attributed to the creation of a custom audience composed of dog owners and campaign enthusiasts for their ads.

4. Lululemon

Lululemon makes athletic clothes for yoga, running, working out, and most other sweaty pursuits. How did the brand achieve 2.4 million followers? In part, through their strategic content:

Prioritizes Quality Over Quantity

A lot of people think that more is better, especially on Instagram.


After all, the more posts you make, the more times followers will engage and see your content. But it might be time to slow down your content publishing efforts instead.

According to Simply Measured, Lululemon doesn’t post everyday, but its Instagram results are phenomenal. Their account has a 9.4% engagement rate, 27,547 likes and 258 comments per photo.

How did Lululemon achieve Instagram success? They make every post count.

Here’s one of their top posts in 2017:


This includes many pointers for creating great Instagram posts:

  • It uses the branded #thesweatlife hashtag.
  • It tags an inspiring brand ambassador and triathlete on the caption.
  • Uses high-quality videos to deliver captivating stories and messages.

Product Photos That Highlight Key Features

Why should you buy from Lululemon?

There are tons of athletic clothes in the market, but their product photos help set itself apart from the competition.

Here’s a post that highlights their product’s features:


There are also guides on how to style and wear their products:


Promotes Healthy Living

It’s obvious that Lululemon customers love to be healthy.

The brand takes advantage of this trend by posting workout tips and recipes on Instagram stories. From yoga exercises to healthy meals, their content provides insights into how their followers can live better lives.

Want to learn wellness trends and adventure-ready styles? Check out their Instagram Stories to get updates:


There are also quotes that inspire people to hit the gym.


Living #thesweatlife is definitely more fun with Lululemon.

5. Mailchimp

MailChimp is a marketing platform that’s been praised by a lot of marketers.

Why does their Instagram marking strategy stand out? Take a look at their impressive Instagram posts:

Creative Designs and Illustrations

Mailchimp posts amazing illustrations and pop-art. It’s clear that their Instagram posts are carefully planned and their standards are high.

Posts that announce updates or product releases have the touch of a design-centric team. If a business was thinking about getting a tool to launch eye-catching promotions, they would think that Mailchimp was a brand worth trying.


This is how you get customers to try out your service.

Employee Spotlights

What’s it like to work at Mailchimp?

The company is proud of its talented employees. In that vein, look at their Instagram stories, which feature behind-the-scenes experiences of their employees:


6. Old Navy

After disappointing sales for several years, Old Navy has risen to fame once again with sales of $6.5 billion in 2015.

How did they get back to top? Highlighting their brand’s identity and personality have helped them create successful Instagram posts:

Vibrant and Bold Themed Feed

Color can have a remarkable effect on our perception of visual images.

Old Navy understood this and as a general rule they tend to use brighter shades in most of their photos. After scrolling through their bold and vibrant themed feed, it’s hard to look away.


And this is the impact that brands should strive to have.

Body Positivity and Racial Diversity

Fashion brands like Missugided, Revolve and so on have gotten a lot of flak for their models’ lack of diversity.

Fortunately, Old Navy’s Instagram feed empowers people no matter their gender, size and race. Their feed features models with different body types, ages, colors—so any customer can relate to their brand’s style:


High-Quality Product Photos

Old Navy has an impressive array of flatlays that feature their products.

Its swimsuit photo has a nice background, impressive art direction and enhancing props to boot.


Now this is how you present your products to the world.

Fun and Witty Brand Voice

Old Navy has a funky personality and value pricing. Their products are worn by customers going to school, family outings or casual vacations.

The team has a great understanding of the brand’s identity and target customers. After scrolling through their feed, the brand seems like a friend you can have fun with. The captions have a casual tone and a smart sense of humor, which definitely helps it stand out.


7. JetBlue

JetBlue offers flights to 90+ destinations with free in-flight entertainment, free brand-name snacks and drinks, lots of legroom and award-winning service—but that’s not all they’re famous for.

They also have a great Instagram marketing strategy to boot! How did they do it? Here’s what you need to know:

Stunning Skyline Photography

We love sitting by the window seat, and for good reason. The view is stunning and to die for. Who wouldn’t love to see clear blue skies and oceans? Or sunsets and landscapes?

If you don’t have the travel bug, then JetBlue’s posts will show you what you’re missing:


Supports Advocacies

According to the Boston Consulting Group, millennials are more receptive to cause marketing than previous generations and are more likely to buy items associated with an advocacy.

Apparently, JetBlue is making the most out of this trend by teaming up with influencers and celebrities to deliver supplies to poor communities.


Their employees, customers and partners are also a part of the #JetBlueForGood volunteers which inspire the youth and provide them with the tools they need to succeed.


Promotes JetBlue Cards

JetBlue also promotes its JetBlue cards through Instagram posts. The credit card earns you points whenever you use it to pay for groceries or restaurants.

To get more people onboard, the company teams up with local chefs and features their creations on their account.


It’s a simple trick, but it’s convincing enough to buy a Jetblue card.

Travel Hacks

How do you stay fresh at 35,000 feet?

Check out skincare tips from the company’s cabin crew to find out what you need to know:


8. Food Network

Want to find the best recipe ideas, cooking videos, healthy eating advice and tips from top chefs? Head on over to Food Network Instagram!

What makes them stand out? Here’s what we’ve learned from their Instagram:

Educational Food Posts

The lifestyle network teaches its followers how they can recreate amazing meals themselves, showing the various stages on how to make these dishes come to life.

food-network-instagram-marketing-strategy food-network-instagram-marketing-strategy

Fun and Engaging Posts

The brand doesn’t rely on food photography alone to increase their engagement.

For example, their “Would You Rather” posts encourage people to respond in the comments section.


Food-themed memes and pop culture references also spice up their feed:

food-network-instagram-marketing-strategy food-network-instagram-marketing-strategy

Who doesn’t love a good laugh? While memes might not be as refined or classy as their mouth-watering food photos, they can make Instagrammers stop and stare.

Food Network also posts unique food trends.

Take a look at the Churro cones below:


And what about insider information, like what top chefs eat on their birthdays? No worries! They have all the answers:


9. Small Business Revolution

We’ve heard about the Instagram successes of brands like Airbnb, Burberry, Starbucks and many others in the travel, lifestyle, food and fashion industry.

It’s easy to create product posts when you have sexy and attractive products. Take a look at Rolex’s feed, which can take your breath away.

But what about those brands with not-so-sexy products? How do you sell software on Instagram? How do you get UGC? You’ll need to think outside the box to grab your audience’s attention and grow your businesses’ value.

The good news is success is not impossible.

One example of B2B success on Instagram is Deluxe Corp. In the past, they had less than 1% brand awareness. Now, thanks to their Small Business Revolution content marketing program, they’ve earned more than 1.1 billion media impressions!

Here’s what you need to know about this standout campaign:

Features Small Business Stories

Small Business Revolution’s content marketing program features photo essays that tell the stories of small businesses in America. The high-quality posts are enough to draw viewers in and incite their curiosity, so they’ll check out more posts and head over to the main site.


Shows “Behind-the-Scenes” Photos

What’s it like to work in Deluxe.Corp?

A check company isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, when people think of getting a job.

To attract new recruits and show how their content comes to life, the company shows behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram stories to highlight their amazing team and give updates on what’s to come.


Over to You

Creating an Instagram marketing strategy and feed that stands out definitely takes a lot of work.

You can use Instagram Stories to feature employee spotlights, campaigns and recipes. You can also create Instagram ads to attract new fans and engage existing ones. Partner up with celebrities and influencers to spice up your feed. Engaging and high-quality posts are sure to grab your consumers’ attention.

What’re some of your favorite brands on Instagram? Let us know in the comments.

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