We say it a lot, but we really mean it. Social presence should match your brand and target audience while supporting the goals of the overall digital marketing strategy. Find the platforms right for you and leave the rest alone. Focus your attention on the places and interactions that will do the most for your business and stay away from platforms that don’t add value.

We all know and love Instagram for personal use, but what about for business? With over 400 million active users, Instagram is among the most popular platforms today. Visually-driven, Instagram requires attention to detail and strong brand identity to be successful. This isn’t to say that small businesses or traditionally ‘non-visual’ businesses can’t be successful on the platform. It just requires a little more effort. Brands of all sizes and industries can prosper on Instagram if they find their voice, know their audience and provide interesting, impactful visual content. Today I want to take a look at a few brands that use the platform with finesse using very different approaches and strategies.

Nectar Apothecary

One of the things I love the most about this brand account is the balance between promotional and ‘beauty shots’. The Nectar Apothecary is a small business that sells herbal teas, medicines and skincare products. I stumbled across their Instagram account one day and instantly followed. Their posts are beautiful, interesting and visually appealing. With a clearly identified niche, this profile reflects the lifestyle they promote. Earthy, natural and healthy. Now, their products aren’t for everyone (and honestly I’m not really into the herbal thing) but it is a great example of a small business using Instagram to not only promote their products, but a lifestyle as well.

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Brilliantly executed, the Instagram account for FedEx combines photo treatment, variety and a touch of personality to create a well-targeted, interesting account worth following. In contrast with Nectar Apothecary, FedEx doesn’t sell a product. They sell a service.

The photos and captions develop brand recognition and brand preference among audiences. The unique approach to this account is the curation and publication of third party photos reposted by their social team to the account. Photo submissions from all over the world are used to create a visual passport. In a strange way this account humanizes the FedEx trucks and planes. It makes me curious about their adventures out on the road and inspires me to keep an eye out for the next FedEx truck I see.

This account sells the experience of choosing FedEx by using photography that places the brand in everyday life. The vibrant, interesting images don’t promote specials or push sales from the account. They use Instagram to build the brand and increase recognition.


Virgin Airlines

Another example of a large company on Instagram, this account took me by surprise. I wanted to find an example of a brand balancing photos, promotions and behind the scenes images of the people behind the company. Virgin America fit the bill. As you would expect from an airline, many of the photos are travel images. Beautiful destinations, sunsets and beach pics are plentiful.

Virgin doesn’t stop there. This account makes an effort to show the personal side of the brand. Flight attendants, passengers and Richard Branson himself are fixtures of the account. Without the variety and balance of the types of posts, this account would seem bland or simply used for promotional purposes. It’s the combination of the three that make this account work.

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These are just a few examples of the variety of ways brands are using Instagram for their businesses. Small businesses, large businesses, consumer products and services all use Instagram in their own way. The commonality between them is the way they make the platform fit their brands. Each of these example use the platform to show their brand personality in a way that makes sense to their strategy. Instagram does require extra attention, but it can be very useful in a social media strategy. Before you sign up and start posting, you need to ask yourself if it is right for your brand. Already have an account but want to make the switch to a business account? Follow this tutorial.