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Phillip Moorman

If you’re not using Instagram to promote your brand, you’re missing out.

The Facebook-owned social media platform combines the powerful targeting algorithms and huge reach of Facebook with a visual-oriented format that plays well on mobile and appeals to a younger audience, making it an ideal platform to use for your ad campaigns, especially when combined with some of our favorite tools for e-commerce owners.

Instagram’s focus on pictures first makes it great for showcasing your products in an interesting and creative way, and if you can leverage it it’ll bring your business to the next level. It worked for these companies—here are six campaigns you can look at to find inspiration for your next one.

1) Zara—#IAmDenim

Zara is one of the most successful clothing retailers around, and they’ve been one of the best at using social media platforms to spread the word and maximize sales and reach. They have 29 million followers on Instagram alone, and that’s dramatically spiked in the last few years.

One of the things that sets Zara apart is its recognition of the importance of user-generated content. They’ve been ahead of the curve when it comes to driving engagement via influencers, too. #IAmDenim combined both of those things to create a campaign that was better than the sum of its parts.

When Zara launched #iamdenim to promote their new denim jackets and jeans, they went through influencer Teesh Rosa. That video post alone attracted over 360,000 views at the time, and they tapped into a younger audience than they’d previously targeted. With the hashtag, they also invited input from users, who would upload their own posts using the hashtag.

Zara’s work on this campaign was only the beginning—they’re one of the smartest brands out there when it comes to Instagram. If you don’t have their stuff in your swipe file, why not?

2) Nintendo—#OnlyOnSwitch

Nintendo’s #OnlyOnSwitch campaign took advantage of Instagram’s younger demographic and visual format too, and they tapped into their user base in a similar way to Zara. #OnlyOnSwitch was designed around the uniqueness of the Switch console—it’s the only major full-sized gaming console to be totally portable.

The campaign asked users to submit photos of themselves using their Switch in unique places around the world, highlighting one of the biggest selling points of the system while leveraging user-generated content. There was a prize for the best post, which drove engagement more than just a hashtag could have.

With #OnlyOnSwitch, Nintendo made their unique value proposition clear, engaged with their audience, and used their audience to build more awareness of their brand and their product.

They also used Instagram’s visual format to its utmost. It’s tremendous work.

3) LEGO—Royal Wedding

LEGO is consistently one of the best, most creative brands on Instagram. They’ve been great at leveraging pop culture and humor for creative posts—the LEGO Movie wasn’t an anomaly, that’s the kind of thing they’re good at as a brand.

One of the most interesting campaigns they’ve ever had revolved around the British Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They got into the spirit of things with many creative LEGO constructions that they showcased on their Instagram channel.

You wouldn’t think there’d be that much opportunity for Royal Wedding branding from a company that mostly sells plastic building blocks to children, but you’d be wrong.

LEGO’s full-size princess carriage visited sixty-five locations across Britain and documented the whole process on Instagram, and the animation they did of the Royal Wedding generated over 155,000 views. Creative, interesting and out of the box (no pun intended)—that’s what makes this LEGO campaign stand out.

4) Vans—#VansXMarvel

Vans is one of the best brands to follow on Instagram because though they’ve come far from their skateboarding roots, they still pay homage to them thoroughly through their Instagram feed.

Their feed is full of interesting, flashy product shots and videos.

One of their most-viewed campaigns is a crossover campaign video with Marvel. It doesn’t show much—it’s a teaser trailer, more or less—but it received over half a million views.

Their campaign allowed them to reach both comic fans and shoe fans, broadening their appeal to an audience that might not have ever been interested in them before.

The unique crossover appeal of meshing the two brands, especially using the video format, is something you can emulate in your own campaigns. Have an interesting partnership idea that might broaden your audience? Take some tips from Vans.

5) American Express—#AmexAmbassadors

American Express doesn’t seem like a natural fit for Instagram, at first blush. What does a credit card company want with a primarily visual format?

What they did bears noticing.

With its #AmexAmbassadors campaign, American Express utilized not the actual product it provides—credit cards—but the lifestyle it wants to promote.

Their Platinum card was aimed at jet setters, trendsetters and those who get invited to exclusive events. They focused on influencers that could showcase this aspect of the card, often without even showing the card itself.

The result was a highly successful campaign that grabbed attention in a unique way on a platform that one wouldn’t expect to be a natural fit.

6) Nike—React

Nike has consistently had a strong advertising presence and a clean, bold, interesting look. With its React campaign, they leveraged that to show off the selling points of their new shoes.

The first post they put out barely had any details, but the visual design makes it very clear what the shoe is supposed to do. Instagram’s visual format was a natural fit for the campaign, and the lack of detail generated more buzz than a full teaser might have.

Their follow-up video attracted almost 7 million views, generating a ton of engagement that might not have had the same impact without the original teaser.

Nike’s “leave ‘em wanting more” strategy and bold, simple visual language on this campaign deserve a closer look when you’re designing your own campaign.

Fill Up Your Swipe File

These six campaigns are only the start—if you’re going to use Instagram effectively, there are many more that you can take inspiration from. Dig into Instagram a bit and figure out how to use the platform effectively. You’ll be glad you did.

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