Instagram Brand

7 Creative Brand Strategies That Will Completely Blow Up Your Instagram Game. . .

Instagram, the little app that could, is hitting an all time peak.

I find the story of Instagram pretty fascinating as the perfect example of a Lean Startup pivot. In the beginning, it was named Burbn, after one of the founder’s favorite beverages, and was a completely different app altogether, similar to FourSquare.

After fumbling for a while, founders noticed that the app design was too complex for users, but data revealed heavy use of the simple photo editing function.

In a brilliant and strategic move, the founders parred down on any crazy and excessive features to create “Instagram”, a creative word play on ‘Instant’ and ‘Telegram’.

The rest of the story is a Silicon Valley cinderella cliche. In September 2015, Instagram hit 400M users, out-growing Twitter. Instagram was bought by Facebook for a billion dollars, and just hit 500 million users in 2016.

Instagram is in my trifecta of apps you must be using to push your business or brand forward. It is hitting that sweet spot where with the right strategy you can get fantastic engagement, without pouring all of your budget into ads.

Corporations haven’t quite gotten their heads around Instagram on yet, so the little guys still have time to use it effectively before getting pushed out.

Here are 7 effective strategies to making your Instagram presence effective and engaging, as well some cool accounts that can show us how it is done.

1. Inspiration  

Instagram Brand Inspiration

If you are after creative audiences, Instagram is low-hanging fruit to amass your following. Designers, artists, illustrators, beauticians, interior designers, and photographers look to Instagram for inspiration.

Interior Design Instagram

If you happen to be an artist of any kind, your work is pretty much cut out for you. Instagram’s nostalgic filtering and tile layout makes it perfect app to showcase the best of what you do, as a creative mini-portfolio.

If you are not a maker, we still have a ways to go. Let’s plunge ahead.

Who This is For:

Artists, photographers, Etsy shops, designers, makers, creators, or brands and companies that service creative individuals.

Who Is Doing This:

2. Aspiration

Depicting the life your customer wants to lead through nostalgic snapshots is the perfect strategy for any lifestyle brand.

Create a vision board for what people’s lives would be like if they started using your product or service.

REI Instagram

Urban Outfitters Instagram

Who This is Great For:

Lifestyle products (cookware, fitness, outdoor brands, etc.)

Who Is Doing This: 

3. Quotography

Typography Instagram Art

If photography isn’t your skill of choice, you can use one my favorite mediums of inspiration: quotography. Inspiration Quotes + Sexy Fonts = Social Media Gold.

The website is loaded with thousands of fun fonts, that are completely free for budding designers.

Combine your favorite words with some quality-rich, free photos from Unsplash, and voila! Your Instagram page will be a hipster magnet in no time.

Font Art

Forbes Instagram

Who this is great for:

Blogs, writers, artists, designers, inspirational & aspirational brands, everyone.

Who is doing this:

4. Heroes

Humans on NY Instagram Brand Heroes

If you have read my book, ‘How to Go Viral’ you know how our brain is biologically hardwired to respond to faces. Using the hero strategy on Instagram creates an instant community, and puts a face and a human touch to your brand.

Instagram can turn your customers, employees, or talent into heroes of your product. Showcase their success stories or personal growth they’ve experienced because of your company or service.

Hero Instagram Brand Strategy

And of course, people people love looking at and sharing photos of themselves This is an excellent ‘ego strategy’ to encourage influencers of your brand to share and connect with your content.

Hair Style Instagram Posts

Who This Is Great For:

Transformative industries & services (i.e. education or fitness), consultants, personal trainers, stylists. Anyone with customers, employees, celebrity affiliations, or personal success stories. 

Who is Doing This: 

5. Curated Customer Content

Go Pro Instagram

Does your company happen to empower people to create amazing things?

Well you are in luck. Instead of depicting photos of your team, customers, or talent, you can showcase the best of what they do.

This is a double win because the creative heavy lifting comes from your community. In turn, you offer them a platform to showcase and advertise their talent. 

Implement this strategy by soliciting user submissions. GoPro does this by showing off the gorgeous photography taken by customers with their product. Chubbies shorts does this by posting pictures of their fans wearing their gear.

Who This Is Great For:

Electronics (cameras, phones, recorders), fashion apparel, toys, games, products that delight and are fun to use, and of course, products or services that empower customers to make cool stuff.

Who is Doing This: 

User Submission Design Portfolio Instagram

User Submission Design Portfolio

6. Niche Memes

When it comes to going viral, there is just something about the insane and inane that makes us go nuts.

One of my colleagues OkSasha said it best. “The secret to marketing? Just be weird”. This is a woman who gets dating clients by ubering them around in a love-mobile. You can’t buy that kind of creative genius.

You can’t please everyone all the time, so get creative and come up with the one single, unique, interesting thing you do best, and post it over and over again.

There is a unique Instagram account out there for everyone. Here are some crazy memes and niches that make the rounds on IG.

If your product, service, brand, or style is quirky or unique, dig far into the creative dregs of your soul and pull that weirdness out for the world to see. Letting your freak flag fly will certainly attract your tribe, whomever they may be.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 9.18.57 AM

User-submitted content of bored men, from around the world.

Selfie Guy

This guy made his own Hero Story, and meme.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 9.18.44 AM

7. News & Tips

So maybe you don’t have french bull dogs and tutus at your disposal. That’s ok. Let’s rein it in a little.

No matter what industry you are in, there is guaranteed to be some interesting news or how-to blogs your audience would be interested in. Condense your content into bite-size treats for your audience.

Using a creative background, typography, and an article headline, you can link to your best products or articles in your bio and direct viewers there. You can display bulleted highlights or tips designed in an Instagram square, and publish it for the world to see.

Who This is Great For:

News & content publications, tech or science companies, anyone at a loss for visual resources.

Who Is Doing This:

8. BONUS: Story-Telling

The story of a Buddhist monk, on Instagram.

The story of a Buddhist monk, on Instagram.

While some critics rolls their eyes at the public narcissistic display that is social media (hey, I get it), at the end of the day, I still think it is beautiful and fascinating that we are all able to tell stories and create art in real time.

Whatever you decide to post on Instagram, remember that people are there with you to follow a story. You can tell a story in a single frame, or use Instagram as a story boarding tool.

While each post is a piece of artwork in itself, there should also be a bird’s eye view tie-in for what you want your company to represent, and the story you want to tell.

I discovered one Instagram story about a stormtrooper toy leading a normal life, just trying to get by. Another fun story covers two pioneers flying around the world on a solar powered airplane.

Coffee Cups on Instagram

Instagram Stories

Solar Airplane on Instagram

Some of my favorite Instagram stories are cartoons penned on coffee cups, or frame-by-frame comic strips. One of my favorites is a man who tells the story of being lead by his wife on world expeditions.

Whatever your story may be, I hope these handy tools & tips will inspire you tell it.

Instagram Story-Telling

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