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Expert commentator | Smart Insights | Wed, 14 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000

How you can replicate the success of the most engaging brands on Instagram

When it comes to social media marketing, Instagram continues to be one of the most successful platforms available to brands. But with so many users and so many different brands using it, some more successfully than others, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some of the best examples of successful brands on Instagram and what you can learn from them to improve your own Instagram presence.

Oreo: speed drawing

Open up with Oreo and share a new view on the world together.

A video posted by OREO (@oreo) on

Open up with Oreo and share a new view on the world together.

A video posted by OREO (@oreo) on

There’s only so much that you can do in terms of visuals when your product is a biscuit, but Oreo are always finding new and creative ways of driving more engagement using the popular biscuit as a starting point.

While their cute, funny and promotional images get a lot of likes and comments from their 2.1 million followers, it’s their videos that truly stand out and generally gain the most engagement. Among the videos they post, speed-drawing videos always collect an impressive amount of views.

Just take a look at the video above – using a simple Oreo biscuit, they created a short, fun video that showcases their product and gained close to 140k views. It’s worth noting that videos usually tend to get more engagement on Instagram than images do, so it’s useful to post the occasional video, rather than just images.

What you can learn from Oreo: Videos are extremely popular and somehow they are only gaining more. In fact, the way things are going, it looks like video will be one of the top game changers in digital marketing in 2017.

Tobi: Cuteness overload

Ruff morning? These pups are here for you   #humpday

A photo posted by (@shoptobi) on

Fashion brands definitely have an advantage on Instagram over other types of businesses, being that they are so visual in nature. But even so, you can’t only post images of beautiful clothes on beautiful models to get those coveted likes and comments, but rather you need to try out a few different types of content in order to drive more engagement.

Tobi, a fashion brand from LA, has plenty of success on Instagram generating thousands of likes for most images they post and dozens of comments. But their most successful posts are cute dogs. In fact, they tend to drive twice the amount of likes than other images get (even the ones featuring world famous stars like Kendall Jenner) and ten times the amount of comments.

The thing is, most brands have caught on to this trend, so even here, there’s a need for creativity. Or, rather, a need for more cuteness – just take a look at the Instragram above, there’s not one, not two, but nine incredibly cute and fluffy puppies to get those fingers clicking on the like button, which led to over 5,700 likes and 261 comments.

What you can learn from Tobi: Cute animals work on Instagram and really, social media in general. They are so successful, in fact, that some go so far as to create Instagram profiles for their dogs, cats and other pets. You might even have a cute pup on your team that you can use from time to time to drive more engagement on your Instagram profile.

Whole Foods: Ask and it shall be answered

Sometimes, when you want to drive more engagement, it’s as simple as asking for it. Asking questions in your captions will get you more comments, which is something that Whole Foods have quickly learned. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find one post on the Whole Foods Instagram page that doesn’t have a question included in the caption. Whether it’s asking for opinions on a dish, or asking for their followers’ preferences for different types of meals, Whole Foods are always trying to engage them through questions and hopefully get them to leave a comment – which is definitely working, as they are always getting dozens, if not hundreds of comments per post.

What you can learn from Whole Foods: Ask your audience engaging questions and you are more likely to get likes and comments.

Zevia: build a vibe

Zevia (while not as big a brand as some of the others in this list) has managed to build an impressive and very engaged community on Instagram. The beverage company is very clear on what their brand is all about and how it should look and that shows on their Instagram page.
Their use of beautiful and calming pastel colors, yummy foods and beautiful sceneries helps to build a calming vibe that is perfectly in concordance with their overall brand look and feel. Not only that but seeing their Instagram images makes you want to go to your nearest store and get some Zevia so that you’ll hopefully gain that calm and peace that the images effortlessly evoke.

What you can learn from Zevia: It’s important when using such a visual medium like Instagram for promotional purposes to stay true to your brand’s overall look and if you can create a ‘vibe’ in the process – all the better.

Saturday Night Live: Going behind the scenes

Welcome to 30 Rock, @thexx! #LiveFrom8H #WiigOnSNL

A photo posted by Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) on

Saturday Night Live may be a huge brand, which definitely gives it a great head start on Instagram, but at the end of the day, they still need to think outside the box and post great content if they want to be successful. One of the best parts about SNL’s Instagram is that they take their audience behind the scenes of the famous live show.

By showing these behind the scenes clips and images, they give their followers a glimpse into what happens on the set and candid visuals of their followers’ favourite singers, actors and comedians.

What you can learn from SNL: Behind the scenes shots, both images and videos, humanize your brand, which helps drive more engagement. Even if your photos and videos won’t feature superstars like Dave Chapelle and Benedict Cumberbatch in them, they will still help you drive more engagement. You can take pictures of your team, partake in challenges that you film, show how to create your products and much more.


Although many of these brands have a head start as compared to other businesses, as they are huge brands with an already established audience, there is still quite a bit that you can learn from them. After all, it’s not enough to have a recognizable brand, if your posts aren’t good enough. Even they need to think outside the box and be creative if they want to get those likes and comments. What are your favourite brands on Instagram? What types of posts are most engaging?