If you want to build your social media brand on Instagram, you need to be updating your Instagram feed daily with visually stunning imagery and inspiring words.
And if you’re like most people, you’re probably not climbing a mountain, diving with sharks, or jumping out of an airplane most days — so you’re going to have to improvise some epic content.
To find great photos to share that align with your brand’s core values, you will want to take advantage of stock photo websites. Then, you will probably need to add overlays of inspiring words, oneliners and catch phrases on at least some of your photos and this takes some practice for most people to get good at.
If you want to learn to engage people’s attention and produce content that emotionally resonates with your audience, then it’s best to learn from other creative brands that are already doing what you want to do.
Brands Getting Social On Instagram:
I’m not going to focus too much on the big brands because we all know they have massive teams of social media ninjas to inspire their audiences. And you’re probably just one person trying to figure out how to do-it-yourself.
But there are a few big brands that are absolutely crushing it at empowerment marketing, which means making your audience and their aspirations an integral part of your brand stories.
People turn to Instagram for inspiration and social connection, so the best brands on this social medium are those that speak to shared values, greater possibilities and personal growth.
Here is what some of the most iconic brands are doing on Instagram to empower their audiences:
When you’re hurling down on a mountain on skis or a bike, GoPro is probably the camera you will be capturing your adventure on. So naturally GoPro does a great job of sharing photos of people taking epic leaps of faith and risking everything to get into a flow state.
2. Under Armour
The ultimate underdog brand, Under Armour has been eating into Nike’s marketshare with their mastery of empowerment marketing. Instead of “Just Do It”, their motto is “I Will”, which speaks to the brand’s core mission to make “all athletes better through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation.”
Excellence runs in the family. M-V-P. #ProtectThisHouse #IWILL A photo posted by Under Armour (@underarmour) on
Yoga-themed apparel brand Lululemon inspires their largely female audience of “spiritualized” fitness enthusiasts with lots of photos of funky yoga studios, festivals, surfing, mountains and healthy-looking woman living the fitness dream in their designer tights.
4. Lonely Planet
The iconic travel guidebooks for intrepid backpackers is one of the best Instagram accounts for inspiring your next trip abroad. Their sporadic use of eye-catching satellite photos is especially impressive.
‘Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia that is the largest religious monument in the world (first it was Hindu, then Buddhist). Constructed in the 12th century, the 820,000 square meter site features a moat and forest that harmoniously surround a massive temple at its center.’ – Ben, @dailyoverview This is the last epic, aerial capture from @dailyoverview for this weekend’s #lpInstaTakeover. To peruse their prints for sale, see the link in the bio of their account. Or, to learn more about Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples check out the video we recently shot there, via the link in our bio. #lptop500 A photo posted by Lonely Planet (@lonelyplanet) on
Oreo’s Instagram account is a good example of how you can promote a simple product in all kinds of different creative ways. They do a great job of inspiring people to consume their product and they make eating sugary cookies seem extra fun by showing off how you can get all arts and crafty with your bag of Oreos.
A photo posted by OREO (@oreo) on
Other More Realistically-Sized Creative Brands:
It’s not just the big boys that can play on Instagram and build massive audiences. There are lots of examples of smaller brands and solopreneurs who have built massive audiences.
They achieve this through the power of a strong mission, clever customer engagement, shoutouts schemes with other influencers and highly creative photos that strike a chord with people.
Here are some of the emerging creative brands that really shine on Instagram:
1. The Outbound Collective
This beautifully designed “guide to everything outdoors” is giving traditional media’s adventure magazines a run for their money. They use Instagram effectively to share their best adventure content and they have a consistent “Explorer” brand that appears regularly on their images.
Take in stunning views of the Valley of Ten Peaks in #Alberta. @colin.ayers @travelalberta #theoutbound. Press the link in our bio for details on this adventure A photo posted by The Outbound Collective (@theoutbound) on
2. Foundr Magazine
This entrepreneurship magazine is a true outlier on Instagram. Foundr’s twenty-something founder Nathan Chan has built a massive audience that is bigger than most well-established magazines by regularly producing great content and growth hacking his way to the top (he is crushing Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine‘s audiences).
This fashion brand shares stunning colorful photos of interesting people and clothing styles. They also regularly share the best photos that their customers have contributed under the #mydesigual hashtag.
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4. Herschel Supply
This Vancouver-based maker of beautifully designed backpacks and luggage shares engaging photos of their backpacks in exotic places and on the backs of their most stylish customers.
Fuel your day. Photo: @damonshuler #HerschelSupply #ParkgateBackpack #CoffeeNClothes A photo posted by Herschel Supply Co (@herschelsupply) on
5. Inked Magazine
The Instagram hub for the global tribe of people with “tats”. Inked is dedicated to “the celebration of “rebellious lifestyle” and the voice of hip, edgy, and creative individualists who like to wear their style on their skin.
#blackbeard by @torok_tattoo_art #inkedmag #inkedshop #tattoo #tattoos #tattooed #art #freshlyinked A photo posted by Inked Magazine (@inkedmag) on
A creative example of a socially-conscious business that has used their powerful mission to build a massive audience on Instagram. Ten trees are planted for every item of their “environmentally progressive apparel” purchased. So far they have planted an impressive 6.6 million trees worldwide.
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Our roots are in the true north ?? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ From Saskatchewan to Vancouver, we’ve come a long way since our start in 2012. From our days operating out of our co-founder @kalenemsley’s basement, to appearing on Dragon’s Den, to reaching our first 1 million trees planted, to creating the most sustainable Instagram post on the planet… its been quite a ride. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But one thing will always ring true: we are Canadian through and through. Happy Canada Day, planters! ??? #tentree
7. Charity Water
This social organization does a brilliant job at pulling at people’s heart-strings and raising awareness about the billions of people in the world that lack access to clean water. Charity Water is leaving traditional charities in the dust by being completely transparent about how they spend every single dollar they raise.
From dinner tables to conference tables, we all have special people in our lives. Who’s at your table? charitywater.org A photo posted by charity: water (@charitywater) on
PinkBike is a great example of a crowdsourced lifestyle community that has really taken off on Instagram. They post a daily photo submitted by their community of hardcore mountain bikers. They are one of the few Instagram accounts I’ve seen to make extensive use of Instagram’s relatively new wide horizontal photos.
The Movember Foundation is a global charity raising funds and awareness for men’s health. Their brilliant revival of mustache culture has created a movement of young men that is represented in mobile cyberspace by the charm and humor of their Instagram account.
Welcome to Movember. It’s Mo time. A photo posted by Movember Foundation (@movember) on
This web-based women’s fashion brand has a great mix of cheeky humor, inspirational quotes and brightly colored objects. They have used their unique eye for eclectic style to build one of the largest and most engaged audiences in the fashion industry.
Friday, We’re In Love A photo posted by SoulPancake (@soulpancake) on
What’s your favorite creative brand on Instagram?
I trust that browsing the Instagram accounts of these creative brands will give you inspiration and empower you to take more risks and unleash your creativity on your own Instagram profile.
For more creative inspiration and thought-provoking images make sure you also follow DIY Genius on Instagram.
What are the top 3 creative brands that you follow on Instagram? Let me know in the comments.