If you haven’t heard of Instagram, you are missing out on a social media gem that boasts over 100 million active users. That’s a hefty number and, as a result, big brands are increasingly joining Instagram’s ranks–sharing photos and videos and increasing engagement with existing and potential customers the world over.

ms-increase-engagementHere are some of the international players that have put Instagram to work for them.


This heavy-hitter in the world of sports apparel and equipment knows the value of social media when it comes to marketing a brand–and it has identified Instagram as a requisite social media marketing tool. Nike also knows that humans love to create and share their creations with others. Here’s how they used Instagram to cash in on our inner Picassos and earn a massive following.

An Instagram follower need only visit Nike’s Photo ID site to start designing their own custom-made pair of running shoes. First, you select one of your favorite Instagram photos as a backdrop. Then you select your model of shoe and–voila–a unique sneaker will be generated based on the colors in the background photo. Try different photos and create different shoes. You can share your brainchild on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and check out the masterpieces that others have designed. To top it off, you can even purchase a pair of your customized shoes to wear in real life. You have to admit, that’s pretty cool.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Prestigious brands are turning to Instagram for audience engagement as well. Saks Fifth Avenue used the social media venue to cleverly lure traffic through its doors. By launching a contest that required entrants to take photographs of their favorite merchandise in the store and upload them to the contest’s hashtag, they were able to increase foot traffic, get their brand’s name out there, and engage potential clientele. Plus, any product descriptions that clients composed about their favorite merchandise were posted on Twitter–doubling the marketing value of Saks’ efforts. And, whether the participant won the $1000 prize or not, they still likely had a good time playing.


This breakfast cereal powerhouse recognized the potential of Instagram early on, so it is no surprise that they have used it to embark on a clever campaign to win over a new generation of taste buds. It all began when they converted the Special K store in Stockholm — you probably didn’t even know there was such a thing — into an Instagram photo swapping location. Customers were invited to upload photos to Instagram using the special hashtag #nyaspecialk. They would then receive proof of the upload that they could take to the store cashier in order to receive their free cereal. Not only did this product sampling win over new customers, but it advertised the brand and dramatically increased public engagement.


While Starbucks hasn’t rolled out a large Instagram event like the aforementioned companies, they have established a huge presence on the social media platform. How? By being ever-present. They offer a gallery of high quality photos, customer experiences, product spotlights, and insider info–and consistently generate new content. They have become an entity that Instagram users can count on as a steady source of news and engagement–earning them an awesome brand image.

As these brands have shown, Instagram is a great addition to your social media marketing tools — enabling you to not just “tell” a story, but to “show” it as well. If your company can benefit from sharing visual content–and it can–you need to get started with Instagram today.


What clever campaigns have you seen on Instagram? What made them stand out?

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger. She has written on a wide range of topics including WordPress plugins, social media marketing, and online reputation management. You can follow her at kimberleylaws.com.

Image courtesy of photos.com.