The Secret Sauce for Brands on Instagram

Wait, what?! Is there really such a thing?

Madewell perfected their formula with a killer Insta feed boasting a following of 404K. Source: Instagram

Stop the fist-pumping, there is no one size fits all formula, one reason being that there are so many factors that come into play when a brand is trying to build a successful IG account. Both as an audience member and as a company Instagram manager, I’ve gathered some insight over the years that could be useful if your label is having a hard time surfing the ‘gram wavelengths.

The struggle is real.

The social media manager appointed to curate the Instagram feed of a brand that has spent years figuring out their customer and exhausted millions of cold, hard dollars on traditional marketing and advertising might sound like they have an easy job, but it’s far from a no-brainer. When brands – fashion brands in particular – were figuring out that being on Instagram was kind of a do or die, falling short of figuring out the semantics was what was trending.

It’s the nature of the beast: Instagram, while being a form of marketing for brands, should not be regarded in the same way that marketing has worked for years. It’s not about market research, it’s not about blasting out boring corporate images, it’s not about calculations or focus groups. Mostly, it should not be an afterthought.

Whether a label was born and raised in the age of social media or has been around for many moons and had to adapt to the new machine, one thing remains true: the successful accounts are creating a feeling and inducing feelings. The bigger picture should be regarded as conceiving an ongoing story that reveals what your brand is all about.

Compelling brand Instagram feeds are not blatant promos. They don’t feel corporate. They’re not detached. They don’t feel forced.

Tell me more!

A label’s gallery should be a genuine extension of the brand. It’s an incredible advantage to have direct access to consumers on a daily basis. Brands who make the most of it are the ones who bring them into their world.

Christian Louboutin rules the 'Gram coming in at 4 million followers. No surprise as their handle puts it quite literally - @louboutinworld. Source: Instagram

We consume so much information at such a fast pace, often without scratching any surfaces, making the opportunity to reveal more about the brand – what it stands for, what they’re working on, how they get involved in projects – all that more interesting. Building an Instagram for a brand is seizing the chance to involve the fans, all via the best way to hook someone at first sight: by the use of visuals.

As we know, Instagram is an aesthetics game. But it doesn’t seem that obvious for some – there are so many feeds out there that are plastered with badly composed photos that send all kinds of mixed signals. I sincerely hope yours isn’t one of them.

Aim to put out emblematic imagery that your target wants to look at: furnishing your gallery with beautiful visuals that represent the company while tying into its corporate brand strategy.

This is entirely different than putting out print ads four times a year; it's about captivating your audience, reeling fans in by telling the story of the brand via a continuous stream – a combination of honing in on the narrative, your voice and information flow. Akin to developing a highly tailored mood board.

Everlane is a small indie label with no brick and mortar stores that has managed to rack up a following of 148K. They must be doing something right. Source: Instagram

So you wanna play with magic? Here are some of the ingredients.

  • Know who you’re talking to. You basically have direct access to your followers, so don’t feel like this isn’t a conversation.

  • Find your voice. This is something that is reiterated over and over in all aspects of publishing because it is so crucial. It’s pretty much your personality in a nutshell.

  • What is your message? What do you want people to know about your brand? Make your visual information flow a derivative of your corporate strategy.

  • Get personal. Social media has tapped into our voyeuristic tendencies and our desire to feel important. People want insider information about that aspirational world, not just glance at what’s on the surface. They want to feel like they’re being spoken to by a real human and know that brands care about them, i.e. genuine interactions and feeling valued. That’s why being overly corporate tends to fail. Side note: there’s a fine line to tread here (pics of your date night: NO / BTS pics of the spring campaign shoot: YES).

For Love & Lemons pretty much skyrocketed to fame thanks to Instagram. Source: Instagram

So, what does this all mean?

While Instagram may look like fun and games, it’s far from an easy task. The person manning the account should have a deep knowledge of the company whose image they are responsible for, but also have a keen eye, as well as an understanding of aesthetics and how they can tell a story.

Consider this the foundation to build on – get these things right and then hit the ground running.

Interested in maximizing engagement and ROI from your Instagram? Learn more and get a demo.