successful instagram campaigns

Instagram is one of the hottest visual image social media channels. Instagram campaigns have been very popular over the last year for brands to increase brand awareness and social reach. However, it is a relatively new medium for brands to dip into, so it can be uncharted territory for many social media teams.

Let’s take a look at some of the best Instagram campaigns of 2014 and put together some tips from the common elements in each of the successful marketing efforts.

1. Marc Jacobs modeling agency’s #CastMeMarc campaign saw over 70,000 Instagram hashtagged entries submitted with aspiring models sending in photo entries.

2. Applebee’s #Fantographer campaign had customers tag pictures of their meals. They increased their Instagram following by 32 percent and engagement by 25 percent.

3. Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest brought in over 4,000 artist cup drawings in just 3 weeks.

4. Hillside Beach Club ran a very creative Instagram contest called #JobAtHeavenOnEarth which they used to source 6 new “Chief Instagram Offices” from the campaign.

5. Madewell’s Instagram campaign involved employees and followers sharing images of their favorite Madewell denim and resulting in more than 2,000 posts and over 160,000 likes from those posts.

Common Elements of Success

Marc Jacobs found the face of the 2014 fall/winter campaign via photo-tagging.
Marc Jacobs found the face of the 2014 fall/winter campaign via photo-tagging.

Analyzing what these and other top Instagram campaigns have in common can help other companies know how to use the successful elements of the campaigns, to build their own campaigns to bring in more followers and increase social reach. Here is what the successful campaigns had in common:

  • Each one is unique to their brand. Find a way to showcase your brand, product, or service through the visual imagery and user generated content elements of Instagram campaigns.
  • The campaign or contest you run on Instagram does not have to have a big, expensive prize. The hotel chain offered free stays, the modeling agency offered a modeling contract (an expense they regularly have), and other brands just announced a winner that was featured on their channel.
  • User generated content is worth more than any expense. The goal of your campaign should be to acquire user-generated content. Images of your products and services from others are the best word of mouth marketing and content that helps build up your own channel.
  • Imagery is the key. The success of Instagram and many other social media channels is the visual nature of them. People are engaged more by pictures and images than text alone. When users participate in your contest, their image and video entries show up on their stream and can increase your reach as well as your content.

Takeaways for Your Social Media Team

Diners are encouraged to tag their photos #Fantographer to be featured on the official Applebee

When you start any social media campaign, it is important that first and foremost, you are committed to the success of the campaign. Along with the campaign, develop a calendar with scheduled posting times and enough time allowed for engagement, response, analyzing statistics, etc. You must hire the right amount of staff to see the campaign through. Nothing is worse than a social media campaign where your followers and the participants are posting on Instagram but you don’t have enough staff to respond back and engage.

Here are some other tips you should follow when running an Instagram contest or campaign:

  • Research what your fans and followers are posting about. This will help you better understand your audience, and also assist you in being more successful at engaging with user-generated content.
  • Find the best days and times to post. Each brand’s followers have a frequency that you can tune into. Some are most popular during business hours, some are more popular nights or weekends. Find your best posting times and be sure that you have posts ready to go or scheduled to launch during those important time frames.
  • Measure results for reporting and for the future. Not only do you need to measure success to report on the results of this campaign, but it also can give you very important insights for future campaigns. That knowledge can help your marketing department for other areas and other social channel campaigns you might run.
  • Test out different types of campaigns. As good marketers we all know that testing is very important. Especially with a new medium like Instagram, testing out campaigns to see what works and what does not work is incredibly important. Try running multiple campaigns or even polling your followers to see what type of contest peaks their interest most.

Armed with the knowledge and looking to past campaigns’ success will help you develop the best type of Instagram campaign that works for your business and your brand. When dealing with a relatively new frontier like Instagram, it is important to do your research and give your team the best chance at success with best practices and looking to early pioneers in the field.