[8 Instagram Marketing Campaigns] To Inspire Your Shopify Growth

Last updated April 16, 2018

In 2017, Instagram officially surpassed Twitter for the highest number of active users. This was a hot topic. For years, there has been a debate as to which social media platform is the best for startups, brands and SMEs. With this new data, it seems that Instagram is forging a path ahead of its competitors. It has successfully challenged Snapchat in the visual media sphere, and developed its advertising space with a helping hand by its Facebook owners.

Scroll to the bottom to download the Best Brands Cheat Sheet. Learn the top 40 strategies the best brands on Instagram use to grow.

This status does not come as a surprise. For years, digital marketers have paid close attention to Instagram as the rising social media platform, and it is a clear contender for B2B and B2C industries. Visual content is king, and Instagram is at the heart of this.

Engagement is key for brands using Instagram. A study published by Forrester Research revealed that users on Instagram are 58% more likely to engage (follow, like, or comment) with the brands they follow, as compared to other social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Facebook’s own algorithm changes haven’t helped brands; organic reach is tough to achieve, regardless of content relevance or quality.

How popular is Instagram? Here is some data from Statista to consider:

  • As of September 2017, there are 800 million active users on Instagram
  • 75 million daily users
  • 30% of the US population is on Instagram

The numbers are impressive, and engagement rates are high. Content on Instagram is easy to digest, share, and interact with. The human need for visual stimulation has combined with better smartphone cameras and other tech developments. The platform has built-in immediacy through Instagram Stories, and artistic tools to provide full customisation of images and videos.

Instagram enables true visual storytelling. But how can this be achieved, and who has done this well in the past? Firstly, let’s look at what makes a great Instagram account.

What makes a great Instagram strategy?

You should not be on Instagram just for the sake of it. You need to have business goals, tied to your social strategy. You need to map the Instagram strategy to your audience personas, and see the content in the context of pain points and/or aspirations.

Firstly, understand your audience deeply. Set audience research into the context of what competitors are doing, and use this as an opportunity to learn what other brands are doing with their profile and how they increase engagement. Whilst there are plenty of active users on Instagram, it’s up to you to attract the most pertinent section of that user base to your work.

Instagram is most suited to brand awareness. In order to achieve this, it must reflect your brand in profile, message, and content. Creativity and consistency is key for generating brand awareness. You must also tap into timely issues and topics that will resonate with your audience at the time of posting. Integrity is key, and alignment of content, audience, and brand is critical.

Let’s look at some of the key tactics that are employed by successful Instagram accounts…

Influencer marketing and user-generated content

One of the most powerful trends to have emerged on Instagram is that of influencer marketing. It’s no secret that word-of-mouth is highly effective, as people like to buy from places that are recommended by someone they know or trust. This is the premise of influencer marketing. It’s about utilising the reach of an individual or group who has influence over an existing audience; one which mirrors your own, and taps into the same emotions.

Influencers have developed their following over a long period of time through engagement and trust. Thus, they value true partnerships with brands because they want to protect reputation. This is why their audience trusts their opinion, and and follows their brand relationships. It’s about resonating the true quality and value of your brand in a receptive audience. The biggest challenge is to find the right influencer to complement your business goals.

There is another type of content that brands should be utilising on Instagram: user-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) is created by the user, and integrated into the brand’s content campaigns. Sometimes these images and videos are submitted directly, and sometimes they are picked up via hashtags and repurposed on the branded accounts. User-generated content is authentic, and usually not paid-for.

This type of content is most prevalent on Instagram than any other social platform. In this study, 76% of individuals on Instagram trusted content that was posted by users versus those by brands. You’ll see plenty of inspirational examples later in this article.

10 Tips for Instagram success

As a business aiming to leverage the power of Instagram as a social media platform, your focus should be on generating creative and compelling content. Being creative with your content ideas can be difficult, but it can be achieved when you use the following techniques:

1. Tell an original and unique story:

Use custom imagery to tell your brand’s story. Do not simply use stock photos. Add texts, logos, and other creative content to those images to make them unique to your brand. It also brings more credibility to your marketing campaign.

2. Engage with your user base:

Share or regram user-generated content. You can get regram apps, or you can manually share other people’s updates with their permission. This drives more engagement, and helps build a relationship with loyal users who produce great content.

3. Create branded hashtags:

Hashtags are critical for gaining exposure on Instagram. Aside from expanding reach, you can also use hashtags as part of a branding effort.

4. Support a good cause:

There are many ways to go about this, but always ensure that your support for a good cause has integrity and aligns with your company’s values. This could be a charity or nonprofit, or just a topic that you wish to advocate. For example, a swimwear or clothing brand might promote the need for society’s healthy body image. Alternatively, you could partner with a chosen charity.

5. Use non-brand-centric imagery:

Avoid posting content that overly promotes your business or brand. Vary it up with random posts that showcase different personalities, characters, and topics. Add uniqueness to your page and showcase diversity as much as possible.

6. Behind the scenes:

Provide a behind-the-scenes look at your company. You can show photos and videos of the team at work, providing a sneak peek into what happens at the heart of your organisation. This promotes the human side of your brand, and can celebrate the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. This exclusivity is great for loyal fans and followers.

7. Use videos:

Make use of videos, in the form of adding permanently to your feed or uploading to your Instagram Stories. This is the feature which has troubled Snapchat, and rightly so. You can do how-to guides, behind the scenes peeks, short interviews, and much more. Incorporate subtitles, and integrated your videos with other content like articles and podcasts, or link to your YouTube for longer in-depth video pieces.

8. Advertise and sell directly:

Thanks to the new advertising capabilities, you can now advertise and sell directly through Instagram. This is perfect for eCommerce stores and individuals. Given Instagram’s unique artistic character, it’s particularly suitable for creatives and craftspeople to advertise and sell their own custom merchandise.

9. Repurpose existing content

If you have a wealth of content that has already been created, check whether it can be altered to suit an Instagram campaign. Perhaps a video can be chopped up into smaller 1 minute sections, or perhaps you can upload a section of a podcast with an animation, artwork, or photo.

10. Tap into trends

Use qualitative and quantitative data to identify trends in creatives, but also in topics and themes. Make your visual content relevant for the time, and it will get a reaction.

8 of the the best Instagram marketing campaigns

Planning a successful marketing campaign on Instagram requires research, creativity, and skill. Before you launch your campaign, you need to know:

  1. Your target audience
  2. Your creative strategy
  3. Your goals and objectives

If you want to expedite your research, there are plenty of successful campaigns from which to take inspiration. By taking a closer look at these successful Instagram campaigns, you can devise the right approach for your brand or business.

Without further delay, here are 8 of the best.

Nike – #AirMax


Campaign overview

 Nike is one of the most recognisable athletic brands in the world, notable for many compelling ad campaigns over the past couple of decades. And Nike is bringing its expertise to Instagram in a big way. This is particularly evident in their campaign for Air Max, whereby the brand asked its followers to design their own customised Air Max trainer and provide a high-quality photo of themselves wearing it.

Within the first week of launching this campaign, Nike generated up to 20,000 pieces of content from Instagram users. It had universal appeal. The campaign also highlighted an aspect of the brand that has made it a world leader: promoting a sense of individuality. It denotes the idea that whilst there is one type of shoe, the Air Max, yours is unique!

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Attain universal reach to your brand campaign by promoting a sense of individuality
  • Encourage and challenge customers to be creative and share their ideas
  • Reward followers by featuring them on the official page

Glossier – Using micro-influencers


Campaign overview

There are plenty of cosmetic brands on Instagram, but Glossier stands out from the rest with their ingenious campaigns. In fact, the brand’s use of influencer marketing is one of the best demonstrations on the platform.

It’s no secret that beauty brands do well on Instagram due to the visual appeal of their products, but Glossier has mastered this exceptionally. They have established a stunning curated feed, with the help of influencers and outreach. However, they focus on “micro-influencers”, rather than paying for celebrities. This provides balance in terms of expanding their reach through other networks, whilst making the content relatable.

In an interview with Quartz, Glossier’s founder Emily Weiss estimates that Glossier owes 90% of its revenue to a “hyper-engaged fanbase”.  She says in the interview, “it hasn’t been through paid or built marketing spend, it’s been mostly word-of-mouth.” She alludes to the Instagram strategy with a remarkable insight into their plan as a brand; “what’s very motivating to us is this idea of every single woman being an influencer”.

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Influencer marketing is a fantastic method for curating other people’s creativity
  • Micro-influencers will leverage relevant audiences, and this is brilliant to scale
  • This approach builds loyalty and integrity among your target audience

GoPro – Photo of the Day


Campaign overview

 GoPro has capitalised on one specific (and simple) technique to generate buzz and engagement on their Instagram page: “Photo of the Day”. When Instagram was still fairly new, these kind of posts were very popular among users and brands alike. Again, this incorporates user-generated content. GoPro also features a collection on the website.

The result of this campaign tactic has been mindblowing. According to TrackMaven, just after they scaled up the amount of content they put on Instagram with these tactics in play, “GoPro’s average interactions per Instagram photo grew by 57%, while average interactions per Instagram video grew by 53%”. In terms of the branding strategy, it showcases the product as it is used by GoPro owners. It highlights the experience, not the product.

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Focus on user experience and aspirations, rather than the product itself
  • Find ways to showcase user content to generate publicity
  • Stay consistent over time, and keep delivering value every time 

Airbnb – #WeAccept


Campaign overview

 The best and social media campaigns not only raise brand awareness, but also highlight the true values of a brand and its team. This is precisely why the Instagram campaign of Airbnb is highly successful. Following the controversy on immigration in the US, there is an increased awareness on embracing cultural, ethnic, and racial differences worldwide (not just in the US). Airbnb launched the #WeAccept campaign to support that ideal.

Airbnb showcases the company values, highlighting love above hate. This inspired a creative social movement that showcases and spreads message of acceptance for all.

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Appeal to the true emotion of your target audience, and maintain integrity throughout
  • Showcase your company values, and not just your product or service
  • Embrace a socially-conscious approach, and stay true to your ethical stance

Aerie – #AerieREAL


Campaign overview

Aerie have become sensational on Instagram due to their innovative campaigns. With the controversy surrounding photoshopped images on other campaign ads, Aerie wanted to showcase real beauty and integrity. Through their #AerieREAL Instagram campaign, they encouraged followers to submit photos of themselves wearing any item from the brand. These photos needed to be unaltered, original, and unique.

Over 90,000 photos were sent in as part of this campaign. Again, we see the impact of user-generated content in this instance. The mission aligned with the values of the brand, and tapped into the genuine concerns of their audience.

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Choose a cause that is consistent with your brand and true to its values
  • Tap into a timely and newsworthy issue, current with the times
  • Curation of user-generated content is a running theme for successful campaigns

Samsung – #UnboxYourPhone


Campaign overview

 In preparation for the release of the Samsung Galaxy S8, the company launched its #UnboxYourPhone campaign on Instagram. The campaign was groundbreaking in that it provided an immersive experience to the user. This was an example of an established brand maximising creativity in visual media, and pushing the boundaries of the platform itself.

Again, there was a focus on the user experience, rather than the product itself. This campaign was visually stunning, highlighting the ways in which creative minds can benefit from the device. It also tapped into fashion, architecture, art, extreme sports, animals, and events. The team recognised that these are the most popular types of content on Instagram, and used them as inspiration to tie into a branded message. This tactic is widespread, and for good reason.

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Instagram has outstanding capacity for visual creativity. Make the most of it!
  • Integrate popular types of content into your campaign for better reach
  • Focus on value perception and user experience, rather than product specifics

Amazon – Big Thanks


Campaign overview

 In the 2017 Harris Poll Corporate Reputation Rankings, Amazon was rated as number 1. As a reward to their loyal customers, Amazon decided to say thanks in a big way. They offered their customers a discount code for their website, and delivered this message via Instagram.

This campaign was highly effective for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it highlights the recognition from customers that resulted in an official award. This reinforces their status as an authority, and a company to be trusted. Secondly, the powerful offer is sure to generate a response from followers; directly resulting in increased sales. Thirdly, this nurtures the existing relationships with customers (and followers); rewarding them for the ongoing support.

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Giveaways and coupon codes are a sure-fire way to compel followers to take action
  • Whenever possible, reinforce the idea that customers come first and are valued highly
  • You can keep things simple, and still make an impact

DJI – Phantom 4 Pro


Campaign overview

 DJI’s Instagram feed consists of beautifully-curated images. This company is a global leader when it comes to drone technology, and they are well aware of its application. Hence, they developed a campaign that showcases this and maximises the use of video in their content.

DJI partnered with notable filmmakers, enabling them to curate breathtaking videos featuring the most beautiful landscapes all over the world. This campaign was established for the Phantom 4 Pro product. The fact that Instagram extended video time from 15 seconds to 1 minute gave more power to the platform’s video marketing capabilities, and DJI obliged.

Video can be very compelling when thrown into the photography mix, especially when you’re showing people beautiful sights that they’ve never witnessed for real. There is clear alignment with the product itself, and taps into the fact that many videographers and filmmakers are getting their hands on a drone at the moment.

What do we learn from this campaign?

  • Work with creators in your niche to generate amazing content
  • Always expand your view on the application(s) of your product or service in real life
  • Embrace the beauty of the natural world, if it aligns with your brand

Instagram Marketing Campaigns Reviewed

When it comes to launching a successful Instagram marketing campaign, the devil is in the detail. The emphasis should not be on the product. Social proof is of huge significance, and the rise of micro-influencers and user-generated content is a key example. Followers need to see that your brand is worthy of following; and expects only the best quality visual media.

As you see in the above examples, the perfect recipe for a great Instagram campaign contains the following ingredients:

  1. Creativity and content quality
  2. Timeliness and relevance
  3. Emotional significance
  4. Relatability and inclusion
  5. Authenticity and integrity
  6. Consistency and regularity

Without the above ingredients, your campaign won’t maximise its reach and won’t meet business goals. First and foremost, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your audience. When you know their dreams, aspirations, values, and pain points – you can devise impactful campaigns using visual creatives.

Every startup, brand, or SME has a visual angle to their identity. It takes a creative mind to spot the opportunities, but they always exist. Instagram is a fantastic channel, and it is still growing. Get involved with clear goals in mind, and grow your followers with exceptional creative content.

Author bio:

Fionn Concannon is the co-founder and managing director of KITE. He is a lover of all things creative, inspiring, and innovative. After working in technology for many years, he co-founded Kite; a software solution for print-on-demand, zero inventory merchandise, and photo print goods catalogues. Fionn is a tech enthusiast, and remains fascinated by the disruptive nature of entrepreneurs, startups, hardware, and software.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter.

giles thomas


Hi, I’m Giles Thomas. Founder of AcquireConvert, the place where ecommerce entrepreneurs & businesses go to learn how to increase conversions & profits. I’m also the founder of ecommerce growth agency Whole Design Studios. I’m a head marketing mentor at the Google Launchpad Accelerator & Google Marketing Expert. Ps. Check out my new blog RisePro.co


3 Responses or Pingbacks

  1. foster says:


  2. Rudra Singh says:

    Very helpful . Great content.Thanks

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