The most popular brands on Instagram are never the ones you think they're gonna be.
Once upon a time, Instagram was a much simpler place. There wasn't any talk of pay-for-play, brands could figure out their optimal posting times and stick to a regular schedule, the territory of Instagram brands was much less saturated, and the FTC minded its own business.
Let's just say things have changed.
The channel isn't the free market it used to be, and companies have had to get hyper tactical with just about everything concerning Instagram social media strategy. From how they approach the conception of creative assets to community-building methods, all the way to optimized data analysis. And much, much more in between. Instagram and marketing were made for each other, but this happy marriage takes work.
Seeing as the visual social network is still a significantly recent addition to our generational vernacular, the playbook for using Instagram as a marketing tool is still being written. As brands truck along, the progress made for Instagram best practices inevitably brings forth new sets of challenges to master.
Let's face it: the algorithm is the industry's dirty little word, irking both brands and influencers who are marketing through instagram. While it's added a layer of complication to cracking the code of high engagement, there are ways around it. In its defense, the algorithm has chased the mediocre out of content and raised the quality bar.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the A-word has made it a lot harder for any account to drive engagement to their content, which has many marketers asking how the unicorns are doing it. For that reason, we scraped some Instagram statistics to find the top 10 performing brands on all of the app. We put together a list just like this last year to see who was crushing it.
We're sure you'll find this one just as interesting, maybe even more.
10. Hot Pockets - 8.60% Engagement Rate
Memes are forever a winning Instagram strategy. Now add to that everyone's favorite flavor profile (pizza) in the cult classic microwavable format, and you've got multiple thousands of double-taps representing unprecedented engagement levels.
9. Dickies Girl - 9.75%
Dickies Girl has a few advantages, namely its smaller audience (a modest following typically garners a higher engagement ratio) and also the fact that cool It girls like Kaia Gerber and Internet Girl can be seen in the collection.
8. The North Face Climb - 11.04% Engagement Rate
North Face is an outerwear/adventure wear giant covering various niches of the market. Its Instagram account dedicated to all things climbing proves that the more niche you are, the more you'll have avid fanatics that will never fail to passionately engage with their particular field of interest. Users who have a deep love for something specific are all in, always.
It’s been a big year for @MargoJain. To cap off 2017, Margo won the @AmericanAlpine Club Bates award, which recognizes a young climber who has demonstrated exceptional skill and character in the climbing or mountaineering arts and has outstanding promise for future accomplishment. Photo by @GregMionske
7. The Gifted on FOX - 12.64% Engagement Rate
Fandom reigns supreme on Instagram and basically guarantees high engagement. TV viewers are invested in their shows and keen to throw themselves into any conversation involving their favorites. And Instagram is the ideal platform for that dialog.
6. ARCH Motorcycle - 12.91% Engagement Rate
Another account with high engagement, another niche territory. This time it's all about motorcycles. The moto business fans the flame by delivering droves of topical fodder for followers to geek-out on. As a result, they're commenting and double-tapping like nobody's business.
Whatever was stated in #7 applies here as well, but it has to be said that the FX network's shows are exceptionally successful on Instagram, with these three garnering inordinate engagement rates. Perhaps the audiences for these programs skew younger?
4. LNA Clothing - 15.16% Engagement Rate
The LA-based indie brand with the cool-girl aesthetic and devoted following is shattering all kinds of Instagram records. This is particularly impressive considering that the engagement rate benchmark for the apparel industry is 0.83%. LNA is tapping into something that's undeniably resonating.
We are excited to share the launch of our Spring 2018 collection with all of you! We love getting to work with our talented friends and being able to collaborate together over something we all love. This lookbook was shot by @alexkenealy with our forever muse @alwaysjudging guest starting @branch_olive, Hair & Make-up by our favorite @nikkideroest. We would love to hear about how all of you collaborate with your friends ⭐️
3. The Crown - 18% Engagement Rate
Yes, THAT crown. Yet another show on our list, this time rounding out the top three. We can speculate that the Netflix series' Instagram account is remarkably popular because it touches upon two things that profoundly resonate with people: nostalgia and the royals. Put those two things together and it's basically a recipe for explosive engagement.
2. Nature Valley - 28.19% Engagement Rate
Say what?! This is quite simply stratospherically exorbitant. Pardon the superlatives, but our jaws dropped wen seeing the double digits pushing 30. This is simply unheard of. The classic granola bar company is doing something right (perhaps boosting its posts?), excelling at its apparent outdoorsy strategy. The brand journey depicted on Instagram is facilitated by high-quality nature-centric visuals, including a ton of UGC, and a tight narrative telling the story of an adventurous brand.
1. Mené - 28.85% Engagement Rate
Launching as recently as January 2nd and with only 40 posts at press time under its belt, Mené has already acquired a following of over 16.5K, making the fine jewelry startup one of those Instagram unicorns. For those that thought this type of instant success wasn't possible to reach on Instagram anymore, Mené keeps the dream alive. I suppose that's what can happen to a fledgling luxury gem company with Anja Rubik as its face.
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There's quite the diversity of businesses on this list, proving that a high engagement rate (read: strong audience resonance) is up for grabs in any industry. It's not surprising to see that segments inciting fandom are popular, such as niche accounts and television shows, but there are a few unexpected players in the top 10 that are really retaining user attention with their Instagram content.
If you're striving to be the best, there's always room for improvement when marketing via instagram. So go take a step back to analyze your current strategy and review all the best practices to make some adjustments where needed. You got this.
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