Instagram introduced ads to its platform a few years ago, and like any change to a social network, it was received with quite a bit of resistance. By contrast, however, there are some brands that have garnered a significant following on the mobile app, as people willingly seek out a more subtle form of advertising and branding.
From retailers to restaurants, from news organizations and nonprofits, there are lots of brands that are making the most of Instagram and offering up some great content in the process. We’ve put together a selection of 14 of those brands, listed below in no particular order.
Photography website and store Photojojo is right at home on Instagram. And it’s not surprising since Photojojo’s store is packed with iPhoneography tools and tutorials. Photojojo does a great job of using Instagram to show followers and customers exactly what you can do with their products.
Photojojo is also great with engaging with its followers on Instagram, from featuring photographs by followers, and running really great giveaways.
It might be a little unfair to include a store like Paper Source on this list. After all, when you have nationwide stores in the US packed with gorgeous crafting and organization products, it would be hard not to take a great photo. But Paper Source is a retailer that showcases its products with absolute style.
It also does a good job of responding to customer inquiries in the comments section, which with 114,000 followers, is no easy task. Paper Source taps into the popular hashtags on Instagram that potential followers might be using, and also occasionally gives a sneak peek into what’s happening behind the scenes at Paper Source HQ. And then there are the PaperSource stop motion videos:
A video posted by papersource (@papersource) on
One of the lesser known brands on Instagram, compared to some of the behemoths on this list, is Prodjuce. An Australia-based company producing cold pressed juices and cleanses, Prodjuice’s photography is stunning.
With lots of foodies on Instagram sharing their meals on the social network, Prodjuice takes that kind of photography to another level, excelling at the popular flat lay photos sweeping Instagram. Even with basic photos of its products, thegn.co Prodjuice does a great job of sharing photos that you’ll want to see in your feed, making it feel less like advertising or product shots, and more like just beautiful photography. And who knows, it might even motivate you to lead a healthier lifestyle.
It’s no secret that GoPro is immensely popular on Instagram, with 9.8 million followers. And again, this is another brand that is right at home on a social network like Instagram seeing as its entire business is built on video and photography.
One glance at the GoPro account and you’re going to want to run outdoors and spend the rest of the day there. The quality of the photography is amazing, and the account does a great job of featuring GoPro photographers from around the world.
GoPro’s Instagram audience is also super interactive. The #GoPro hashtag has over 21 million photos, and, as is to be expected, GoPro has also been really successful at using Instagram’s video feature to share stories that will no doubt inspire you.
News organizations are constantly finding innovative ways to use social media to their advantage, and Instagram has of course been no exception. A particularly fascinating account run by a news organization is that of the Washington Post design team. The account features illustrations and graphics that are featured in the newspaper and its sister publications and is a great way to put their artists front and center.
I first came across Frooti in a General Assembly design class, when the Indian fruit juice company’s website was displayed as an example of great, vibrant web design. The company’s Instagram account is certainly no different.
There is a great explosion of color throughout the account, and the images are bound to bring a smile to your face. Frooti is one of those brands that has successfully translated its web and advertising aesthetic into a consistent and fun Instagram account worth following.
A photo posted by Frooti (@thefrootilife) on
Another Instagram account that features images somewhat similar style as Frooti, surprisingly enough is Best Buy. The electronics retailer, while sticking to its brand colors of blue and yellow, promotes products available in the store.
The account takes a really creative approach to the one thing that matters the most to Best Buy — sell products. What Best Buy succeeds at doing, like many of the accounts listed here, is to advertise its products in a way that feels like anything but advertising.
One nonprofit organization that has really excelled in its social media presence is Charity:Water. The organization works to bring clean water to people around the world, and so as you can imagine, there’s a lot of great photography from all over the world featured on the Instagram account.
A large number of the posts promote charity drives, efforts to raise money and, of course, raise awareness, and do it in a subtle way that doesn’t overwhelm followers. But most importantly, a lot of its photos go a long way to putting a face to the people Charity:Water helps and, as a result, encourage followers to donate.
A photo posted by charity: water (@charitywater) on
An Instagram account that really goes a long way to feature its followers, and how they’re using their products is Simon Says Stamp. A retailer selling tools and supplies for crafting and cardmaking, Simon Says Stamp account is all about engagement.
It features photos of cards and products by followers and customers using the supplies available in their store. The Simon Says Stamp Instagram account also publishes card making challenges for followers to participate in and get noticed. The Instagram account is a great example of showing love for their customers while promoting products in the best way possible, showing their ultimate potential.
With 56.9 million followers, National Geographic is one of the most followed brands on Instagram right now. And for good reason. As a magazine that has built its reputation on beautiful photography, and has some of the most iconic photos known in pop culture, National Geographic’s Instagram account does not disappoint. It’s a great way to keep up with National Geographic’s many photographers and get a glimpse into life from the four corners of the world.
Photo by @amivitale on assignment for @natgeo. Three-month-old cubs nap in the panda nursery at Bifengxia. A panda mother that bears twins usually fails to give them equal attention. Keepers reduce the load by regularly swapping cubs in and out—making sure each gets both human and panda-mom care. Read the @natgeo story in the August issue and online through the link in my profile. Follow @amivitale for more adorable pandas! @natgeo @natgeocreative @thephotosociety @instagram #bifengxia #sichuan #china #climatechange #conservation #natureisspeaking #savetheplanet #photooftheday #photojournalism #panda #pandas #babypanda #ipanda #giantpanda #pandacub #amivitale
A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on
Among the lifestyle retailers promoting themselves on Instagram, Urban Outfitters has got it all figured out. With 5.5 million followers, and an Instagram account featuring models, products, promotions, and more, Urban Outfitters shares photos that fit right in with the kind of content being shared by its target audience.
It also has done a really good job of connecting Instagram to its main website with the UO Community Page featuring curated photos from its followers. The genius about this page is that it connects back to selling products, where clicking on an image on the page will pull up links to the product pages on the Urban Outfitter’s website where you can buy them.
This salad restaurant, founded in Washington DC and now with locations nationwide, has a great balance of photos from their branches, food, and even photos from the farms where they get their produce. Closing in on 100,000 followers, sweetgreen has mastered the flat-lay, and is also really smart about keying in on trending hashtags on Instagram. Sweetgreen’s latest post, for example, celebrates National Watermelon Day, which saw watermelons flooding Instagram’s feeds.
A photo posted by sweetgreen (@sweetgreen) on
Another news brand that’s making the most out of Instagram is the BBC. The news organization has taken advantage of Instagram’s video feature in particular, sharing short news clips in the form of Instagram videos. With videos anywhere from 15 seconds to a little over a minute, the BBC gives a glimpse into the most important news stories of the day, while still keeping them as brief as possible to appeal to an Instagram audience.
4 AUG: Meet the Syrian doctor who returned to the warzone in his home town of Aleppo to save lives. Dr Hamza al-Khatib, a general surgeon, lives and works in the hospital. He reveals what life is like and how they help people survive in a battle zone. Watch more: bbc.in/aleppodoctor #Syria #Aleppo #BBCShorts #BBCNews @BBCNews
The Etsy Instagram account serves two purposes. It promotes Etsy sellers, which by extension promotes Etsy itself. The Instagram feed is a great source of inspiration and features some beautiful photos. Etsy also occasionally shares behind-the-scenes videos from sellers where you can see them at work creating the handmade items they sell on the site.
A video posted by etsy (@etsy) on
What are your favorite brands on Instagram? Let us know in the comments.