The days of Instagram being synonymous with selfies and food pics are long over. With 600 monthly million users as of December 2016, the social network has enough clout to get big brands very much on board.
At the same time, Instagram is still perfect for smaller brands who love its simplicity. Aside from its vast reach, it’s a great platform simply because of its visual nature. In the world of social media, however, not all images are equal.
Some brands do it better, so to get you inspired we’ve rounded up some of the most creative brands on Instagram right now, explaining what it is that sets them apart.
Vodka for Dog People
The size of your budget should never limit the scope of your creativity. When Tito’s Handmade Vodka started supporting a non-profit pet clinic, the Texan craft distiller decided to start an account for rescue dogs in partnership with a non-profit called Emancipet.
The @vodkafordogpeople Instagram account does more than just make a statement about good vodka – it’s also about ending homelessness for dogs.
Vodka for Dog People combines the two things that Tito’s loves most: dogs and vodka. The account features previously adopted dogs and dogs in need of a new home, almost always posing with a plush toy shaped like a bottle of Tito’s vodka – you can buy these on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka site, along with dog bowls, leashes, and t-shirts for vodka- and dog lovers. Tito, who created the vodka, has rescued many dogs himself and some of them spend their days at the distillery and office with his team.
What Makes Them Great?
CREATIVITY: Dogs and craft vodka aren’t the most obvious of social media partnerships, but it works when you’re promoting southern values. Statistics say 44 percent of people in Texas, home of Tito’s, own at least one dog. That puts them in the top 10 dog-owning states in the country. This feed’s pet-centric focus also brings a bigger female audience to a brand that’s are very masculine.
CUTE FACTOR: Pets have been popular on the internet for as long as people have been online and pictures of loveable animals still work. Nine Superbowl ads featured animals in 2016, including ‘Dorito Dogs’, Honda’s flock of sheep singing along to Queen, and what MTN Dew called a ‘Puppymonkeybaby’.
CARE: The man who created Tito’s has his own adopted dogs, also featured on the account. This lends authenticity to the account, while reinforcing the idea that a lot of care goes into the ‘handmade’ vodka.
Every year, Nabisco celebrates the Oreo cookie’s birthday on 6 March. There could be no National Oreo Day without a social media campaign, and this year Oreo went all out and brought in some drones to take part in an Oreo dipping challenge.
The campaign starts with a very simple video reminding people that #NationalOreoDay is coming up. It shows the page of a calendar being flipped repeatedly, with each day saying the same thing: ‘06 March – National Oreo Day’. The zero in the date is an illustration of a big chocolate Oreo.
What is probably the highlight of this year’s Instagram Oreo content to date is a lot less simple. It shows five giant Oreo-shaped drones dropping Oreos into milk in what the brand calls the ‘most height-defying dunk’. The button used to trigger the drone to drop the cookie is also, unsurprisingly, an Oreo. Viewers are prompted to follow a link and enter a competition after watching an Oreo being dropped from the same height as the Statue of Liberty.
What Makes Them Great?
IMAGERY: Oreo knows how to use product shots in simple and effective ways. Showing that Oreo is as commonplace – and necessary – as a calendar or a switch on a remote control illustrates the idea that every day should be National Oreo Day. Fans tend to agree.
ENGAGEMENT: Oreo’s impressive drone video may have received fewer views than the calendar clip did, but it still got outstanding engagement. Offering people prizes to do what they already want to do on Instagram, like take selfies and pictures of food, is a very good idea. The chance to win $2,000 and a ticket to a celebrity dunking event garnered 3,924 posts of people dunking an Oreo using the hashtag #oreodunksweepstakes.
TAILORED, CREATIVE CONTENT: The campaign also ran on Twitter and Facebook, with content that was carefully adapted to audience. In keeping with Instagram’s versatility as a visual platform, this is where the creativity of the team behind the campaign really shone through.
WeWork (In Beautiful Spaces)
American company WeWork provides shared workspaces across the globe. As you’d expect, their Instagram feed is packed with pictures showcasing their working communities, which happen to be incredibly beautiful.
They do an amazing job of taking photographs you wish you could dive into – laptop and coffee in hand.
The account is about work-life balance, which reflects WeWork’s mission: ‘To create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living’.
Inspirational quotes are often posted, but they’re never boring. Steve Jobs’ saying, ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’, written in black and white floor tiling in one of their shared workspaces, is an example. This was a collaboration with Eric Friedensohn (@efdot) from design agency Lunch Money.
Another collaboration to look out for is the WeWork #60kDay campaign with philanthropic leisure sock brand @bombas. They got 60 shelters and 60 companies to join in donating 60,000 pairs of socks to the homeless in New York – that’s one pair for every homeless man, woman, and child in the city on any given night.
What Makes Them Great?
AMAZING IMAGERY: Working with great design teams on their Instagram feed and in their office spaces makes this account as good looking as WeWork’s product. The images are beautifully but subtly edited and many are taken by professionals.
COLLABORATION: WeWork collaborates with professional photographers from around the world, helping them create striking posts featuring their spaces that reflect the fact that they’re international. The images often focus on architecture and design, appealing to their audience, many of whom are creatives with a critical eye themselves.
CONSISTENT MESSAGING: WeWork’s content is always centered around their core value: that work should be a passion, not just a way of earning a living. Their Instagram account focuses on inspirational quotes, inspiring work spaces, a sense of fun, and giving back to their communities.
Pro Tips For Taking Bold Images
Taking great images and shooting good video is as important as having creative, engaging, campaigns. For now, the majority of posts on Instagram are still images, so while you polish off your video skills for Instagram stories ads, make sure your photography is on point too.
1. Use your eyes before you use the lens
‘My first photography teacher used to say that the eye is just another muscle in your body that needs training. Unfortunately, most people don’t use their eyes first, but rather hold up their phones and immediately snap. Instead of taking over 100 shots to settle on the best one, take a moment to look. Use your eyes to frame the picture. Taking a few minutes to really observe what’s in front of you may open new ways of looking at it, and the perfect composition will likely present itself on the first or second try.’ – Niv Rozenberg, @nivroz
2. Draw the viewer in with a clear point of interest
‘A good photo has a clear point of interest, whether that’s a person in the foreground or a landscape with leading lines that draw the viewer’s eye into the image. Great photos have multiple points of interest without feeling cluttered. Try and shoot photos that tell a story about the person or place.’ – Sam Horine, @samhorine
3. Look for strong colours, shapes and lines
‘A powerful Instagram image should have strong colors and very defined shapes and lines. You need to get close to some element in the photo that will loom large in your frame and draw the viewer into the photograph. Train yourself to see photos that convey some kind of emotion.’ – Ira Block, @irablockphoto
If You Remember One Thing…
Make it this: Great Instagram campaigns can be done on a budget if you use your creativity and come up with striking, unique, concepts and images to match. Even big brands like Oreo, who can afford massive stunts, rely mostly on simple but smart still content to populate their feeds.