Will Instagram marketing hold you back in 2016?

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Are you struggling to get more followers and engagement on your brand’s Instagram account?

With over 300 million active users, more than 70 million photos are shared on Instagram every day and users engage with top brands on Instagram 58 times more than on Facebook.

In this post, we’ll be discussing how Instagram influencer marketing and Instagram advertising have helped brands gain more users (read here if you’re new to Instagram).

Ready to get creative? Design a stunning Instagram post free in Canva.

Influencer Marketing 101

Influencer marketing is done by brands by collaborating with famous Instagram users that have hundreds of thousands of followers. Here are 6 tips to get Instagram influencer marketing right.

01. Create an Emotional Connection

If you’ve ever used Instagram, you might already know how many dogs have their own accounts.

Barkbox used this to their advantage, connecting with several dog owners on Instagram, sending them Barkbox, and asking them to post cute dog pictures with it.

Today, Barkbox has 1.1 million followers on Instagram and adds 32,000 new followers every month, thanks to their emotion-rich take on influencer marketing.

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02. Invite Influencers for an Instagram Takeover

Birchbox, which is a beauty subscription box, took a different route than Barkbox. They asked beauty bloggers and influencers to take over their account for a day in an epic Instagram Takeover.

Basically, in an Instagram takeover, brands give their account control to an influencer for a specific time period. The influencer creates content around a specific theme that the brand focuses on and lets her or his followers know that they will be doing this Instagram takeover. As a result, the brand gains the attention of the influencer’s followers.

The most important thing while conducting takeovers is to make sure the influencers are of the right niche. Their followers should be your target followers, because if they aren’t, your engagement rate might go up during takeovers, but it will eventually decline because the new followers were never really interested in your brand, they were only interested in the influencer.

Birchbox does Instagram takeovers from time to time, and as expected, their engagement rate increases tremendously every time they do it. Birchbox has 442k followers.

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03. Different Product Placements to Reach a Larger Audience

Even though Star Wars needs absolutely no publicity, they did everything they could to remind the world the greatest sci-fi movie of all time was finally releasing. Now, a movie like Star Wars is something that breaks niche. It isn’t just specific to an age group or category of people. Everybody loves it. And they knew it.

They worked with several different influencers including musicians, graphic artists, fashion bloggers, and YouTubers to spread the message. In each one of these campaigns, the product placement was absolutely different. Star Wars collaborated with brands like HP and JC Penny to create these campaigns.

While the musicians were seen creating Star Wars covers, graphic artists designed some of their favorite Star Wars characters, and fashion bloggers tried to incorporate Star Wars T-shirts in their outfits, all with the same promotional hashtag #TheForceAwakens. Needless to say, all these posts received high engagement rate. The Star Wars Instagram account has 3.6 million followers, while hashtag #TheForceAwakens has been used 1.5 million times.

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04. Follow the Holiday Spirit

What do you do when you don’t have a specific niche but you still want people to notice your brand? You use the magic of the holiday spirit.

Fedex launched a campaign this Christmas called #HowTheHolidaysArrive. While most of the other brands were trying to market their products as the best gifts for the holiday season, Fedex obviously was trying to market how efficiently they can deliver holiday gifts to your loved ones.

They collaborated with select bloggers and influencers to create refreshing and innovative advertorial content. And of course, it intrigued the users. Fedex has 37.1k followers on Instagram, and about 150 influencers took part in their #HowTheHolidaysArrive campaign.

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05. Niche is More Important Than the Number of Followers

While the brands like Star Wars and Fedex tried to reach a larger audience and break out of a niche, there are certain brands that decided to find the right niche and stick with it. The influencers in their niche might have a smaller number of followers, but it didn’t matter. Because these were the followers those influencers wanted to target.

For instance, to launch their new 7 Series, BMW collaborated with men’s luxury fashion and lifestyle blogger Brian Sacawa (106k Followers) and photographer Sezgin Yilmaz (1.7 million followers). The campaign with the hashtag #DrivingLuxury chronicled Sacawa’s journey as he took a road trip to Milan, Zurich, and Munich with the new BMW car. Sezgin, the top Instagram photographer, took pictures of the luxury car.

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Brian Sacawa
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Brian Sacawa

Microsoft has been continuously marketing Lumia phones and their amazing cameras. Since the company wanted the customers to focus on their phones’ cameras more than anything, they decided to send their phones to some of the famous photographers on Instagram. The influencers, in return, snapped great pictures from Lumia phones to showcase their camera abilities. Even though the number of followers and likes for these influencers were fewer, the engagement rate was incredible, and that was what Microsoft wanted. Microsoft Lumia has 216k followers.

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The 67-year-old beauty brand Estee Lauder also followed the same route. They realized the brand was old, and they needed something, or rather someone, to freshen up their brand. That’s why they hired Emily Schuman, the blogger behind Cupcakes and Cashmere to run their digital marketing brand. Since then, the brand has collaborated with several other beauty bloggers for Instagram takeovers as well as well product mentions. The brand also recently announced Kendall Jenner as their new face, and I think it has a lot to do with the model’s 48.2 million Instagram followers.

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06. Focus on One Thing

Back in April last year, Lord & Taylor completely blew up Instagram’s fashion feed by sending an identical paisley print dress to 50 fashion bloggers and influencers. All of them wore the same dress but styled it in their own unique way. This campaign was done to introduce the company’s Design Lab collection to their customers.

But, of course, the main motive behind the campaign was to make the users stop and think, “Why are all these bloggers wearing the same dress on the same day?” And it worked. Each picture got thousands of likes, and users were squirming about this dress and the entire collection. The brand has 57.2k followers.

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Hershey’s followed a similar approach back in 2014. The company had just launched its new holiday candy, Barkbells, which were exclusively sold at Target, and they wanted to create a buzz about it on the internet. That’s why they teamed up with 25 influencers, each of which showcased Barkbells in a different way. A total of 147 pictures were posted for this campaign, which reached over 1.2 million users. And as you would have guessed, Barkbells were completely sold out by the time Christmas came. But surprisingly enough, Hershey’s still does not have an official Instagram account.

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Instagram Ads

It might have not been long since Instagram started ads, but brands are already doing everything they can to lure in their users with them.

Here is how you can make an effective Instagram ad.

01. Stay True to Your Brand

Michael Kors was actually the first brand to launch an Instagram ad, and it would be an understatement to say they were successful. It might have something to do with the fact that people were initially confused how a Michael Kors picture ended up in their feed when they weren’t even following it. But I think it was because the brand stayed to true to itself with glamorous pictures of its watches.

Michael Kors constantly creates ads, and currently, it has 6.9 million followers.

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Michael Kors
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Michael Kors

02. Urge the People to Share Their Experiences

In 2014, right before the launch of Mercedes Benz GLA, the company started a campaign on Instagram, #GLApacked. They sent influencers Cubby Graham (787k Followers), Kyle Steed (159k Followers), and Theron Humphrey (1.1m Followers), as well as Mercedes brand ambassadors Pei Katron (861k Followers) and Rickie Fowler (735k Followers) on an epic road trip with the new GLA and asked them to post pictures of what they would pack for their trip.

All the pictures posted by them were then converted into sponsored posts by using #GLAPacked, and the company asked users what they would pack in their GLA.

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Mercedes Benz
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Mercedes Benz

03. Wittiness Goes a Long Way

We all know humor has always had great success in advertisements, and Ben and Jerry’s took this golden formula to market their ads on Instagram. It was one of the first brands who started using Instagram for ads, and just like Michael Kors, they were able to take advantage of the confusion among Instagram users. After running just three ads, their number of followers increased by 20 percent, not to mention the large number comments and likes, which increased its engagement rate. Ben and Jerry’s now have 607k followers.

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Ben and Jerry’s
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Ben and Jerry’s

04. Incorporate Things That Millennials are Obsessed About

How do you get the attention of a 20-something guy? By talking about something they love. Miller Lite decided to target Millennial guys by creating Instagram ads with cool typography and, of course, Miller bottles. This was because typography is undoubtedly famous today on Instagram as well as other social media websites. In fact, #typography has 3.3 million posts.

Miller Lite ran these ads around Labor Day last year. While the numbers might look small to you, that’s only because their ads were highly targeted. Miller Lite has 44.5k followers.

Check out these 25 Typographic Advertisements to Inspire Your Next Design.

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Miller Lite
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Miller Lite

05. Let the Product Take the Centre Stage

Sometimes, you have to forget all the complicated marketing strategies and just let the product take all the focus. Lexus ran an Instagram ad campaign back in 2013 to bring more attention to their existing campaign #LexusLens.

The brand posted photos of Lexus cars that were taking road trips across U.S. This was also the first time a brand took advantage of Instagram’s geo-tagging feature. There might have been some backlash in the comments section because it was one of the first few ads on Instagram, but the 172k likes tell a completely different story. Lexus has 399k followers.

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06. Stay Subtle and Ask Questions

Levi’s followed a very subtle approach in their ads. Instead of choosing a predictable picture of a model wearing their “signature” jeans, the brand posted a rather simple picture of a couple looking at a big city. The post was accompanied with a question on it: “It’s your frontier. Where will #LifeinLevis take you?”

In just two lines, the ad was able to incorporate the brand’s hashtag and ask users a question which would undoubtedly increase comments on the post. Thanks to this and the other ads that the brand ran, they now have over 1.1 million followers.

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Turkish Airlines followed a similar approach with their ads by being subtle and asking questions. Their ad is actually my favorite. The way they were able to incorporate their brand logo with the help of a boarding pass is absolutely commendable. They used the hashtag #EpicFood to remind people that food is the best way to experience cultures all around the world. Turkish Airlines has 482k followers.

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Turkish Airlines
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Turkish Airlines

Your Turn

Instagram campaigns, when created the right way, can be extremely successful for your brand. I would love to know your thoughts about it too — Do you prefer influencer marketing or classic ads? And how do you design your ads? Do you use Canva? Let me know in the comments.

Happy designing!