Do you know what I like more than just about anything in the
whole wide world?
Sleeping in on a Sunday and profitable social media; it’s
right up there with running in the rain or drinking a cold beer
after yard work.
Profitable social media is the stuff of life. It smells like
freshly mowed grass and tastes like fine champagne (I guess I
really like yard work, huh?)
Seeing profitable social means both the brand and the
customers win. Who doesn’t love a win-win?
Before brands can achieve the sweet smell of social media
profitability, they must first establish trust and gain the respect
of audiences through organic social media.
In the last year, we’ve seen many brands crushing it on social
media, especially with
Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories create an
interesting dynamic for brands because, from the outside, no
one can numerically judge the success of their efforts—there is
no view count or like count.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t clear all-stars when
it comes to Instagram Stories.
Brands can’t make a profit without building the trust and
respect of their audiences.
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Just about everyone in America knows Converse as a brand.
They’re the original “gotta-have-it” sneaker. You weren’t
cool unless you wore Chuck Taylors. But what you may have missed
is just how hard Converse works to be “alternative”.
Converse’s social team puts real effort into purposefully missing
the mark on “cool” and falling into the whiskey tango foxtrot
Frankly, it’s a genius move. The more Converse pushes against
“cool”, the more they earn the respect of young Generation Z.
Sounds like Classic Converse to me.
Creative aside, marketers should take notice of their Instagram
Story strategy. In announcing the rollout of a new shoe
collaboration, Converse seamlessly connects their Instagram post
content with their Instagram Story content.
Their Instagram feed and Instagram Story work in perfect
I’m all for obvious, somewhat repetitive social—wash, rinse,
and repeat. If brands want their audience to know something, they
should wrap exciting, memorable content around that something
and repeat, repeat, repeat, just as Converse has done—so
nicely “it will make you puke.”
2. National Geographic
Here, we see nature’s crafty photojournalists trying to
domesticate the wild that is Instagram Stories. Join me, as we
study their behaviors.
The photographs and storytelling found in National
Geographic have been legendary almost since the magazine’s
inception in 1888. Just as they do in print and across their
digital properties, NatGeo has found innovative ways to share new
ecological studies and award-winning imagery in the newest
Through Instagram Stories, National Geographic educates and
promotes conservation efforts being done by incredible people and
organizations across the world. In this example, their Swipe Up
call to action drives users to a National Geographic landing page
where visitors can pledge to reduce plastic usage and share their
pledge on social.
Twitter shamelessly shares highlights from the channel on
Instagram Stories. Swipe up, and users will land on Twitter. If
they haven’t downloaded the app or created an account, they will
be prompted to do so.
Twitter knows what Tweeters love to Tweet about. Their Instagram
Stories are full of social causes, news, sports and celebrities.
Each video prompts users to swipe up to learn more (swipe up to go
to Twitter), where the “real” conversations are happening. When
they post content of such engaging quality, who can fault Twitter
for stealing a little Instagram love for themselves?
4. Minimalist Baker
People love food. (It’s true — I’m one of these people).
Thanks to the sheer volume of food pics on the platform, Instagram
is one of the best places to see and experience all the great
things that food has to offer, especially new trends and easy to
follow recipes. Minimalist Baker is one of the standout stars in
Every day, founder and photographer Dana Shultz shares new
plant-based recipes that are simple to make and even easier to eat.
Minimalist Baker’s Stories are a blast to watch and learn from
and always include the full recipe and ingredient list as a Swipe
But it’s the use of Instagram Stories Highlights that really
helps them crush it. By keeping some of their most popular recipes
and Stories stocked at the top of their profile, they enable new
foodies to discover their take on plant-based cooking in a super
approachable, step-by-step fashion.
5. Nordstrom Rack
The managers of the Nordstrom Rack account went
behind-the-scenes on their holiday shoot. While the models joyfully
bounced around, teenage shoppers ran to their parents, begging for
an advance on their monthly allowances.
Everyone knows Nordstrom stands for quality, but seeing the
clothes in action takes them beyond #goals to #mustbemine. By
the time the professional photos from this BTS shoot hit
stores/catalogs (and the clothes hit the racks), shoppers will feel
a kinship to the models, excitement for the new season and, most
importantly, trust in the brand.
6. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones fans love their merch, and the managers
of the Game of Thrones Instagram account plan to take that
fact straight to the bank.
The Game of Thrones audience, ruled by forever-nerds,
will leap at any piece of merchandise that may raise them above the
hoards of wine-drinkers-who-know-things. By sharing links to
merchandise clearly made by small-fry superfans, the brand shows a
ton of heart. This Instagram Story is another great example of
a brand profiting from knowing and serving their audience. They
even have the clever hashtag #reptherealm.
When you’re trying to Netflix & Chill, buffering is the
last thing you want. But you want to stay up to speed and on your
toes as to what’s new and exciting in the world of social,
Buffer’s blog is an outstanding resource.
Every Thursday, Buffer uses Instagram Story Polls to
quiz their followers on their social media expertise, and they
give out real prizes for each quiz!
These #BufferTriviaThursdays quizzes are a brilliant way to bring
attention to new social topics Buffer’s audience needs to
continue learning about. They’re a ton of fun to take and test
your skillz (the “z” helps you know you’re cool!) — all
while reinforcing Buffer’s breadth of company knowledge.
Crossfit is attempting to serve an international audience from
one account, and that’s no easy feat (talk about a killer
workout). Yes, a lot of brands do it, but Crossfit isn’t
promoting a product; they are promoting a lifestyle. Going
international and covering all those lifestyles (which include a
variety of cultures and traditions) is tough.
I won’t congratulate Crossfit on the quality of their
photography/videography because, frankly, I think they can do
better. However, I do commend the brand on staying so true to brand
and utilizing their resources.
The brand used Instagram Live (later shared to their
Instagram Story), user-generated content, and influencer marketing,
all in one story, which is pretty
incredible. Their Instagram content also covers their
brand pillars of food, fitness, community, and jockish humor.
9. Taco Bell
Say you are dating a nice boy and want him to remember you no
matter where he is. What do you do? Take a super cute selfie, and
make it his phone’s background photo without his permission. Duh.
That’s all Taco Bell is asking: to be unforgettable, by way of
phone backgrounds everywhere.
This sort of engagement is pretty common. Many brands prompt
users to capture the perfectly proportioned Instagram Story images
to later use as extraordinary phone display images (and Snapchat
Stories). With a phone background like this, friends of the Taco
Bell fan will likely see a tenfold increase in instances of,
“Want to go to Taco Bell?”
Thanks to Instagram Stories’ many features, from live video to
links, there are many ways to engage your audience. As a marketer,
you must continue to experiment and learn how to best leverage the
features to help you achieve your social media objectives.
When brands really kill it on Instagram Stories, it’s
a result of understanding and serving the needs and wants of their
audiences, as with any other social
What we’re seeing from winnings brands is how often they’re
optimizing their already finely-tuned Instagram content to fit the
new medium. Other times, they use the on-the-go temporary publisher
to give the audience a look behind-the-scenes, straight into the
soul of the brand.
As we’ve seen, there are a plethora of ways your brand can use
Instagram Stories. If you are confident your team produces content
captivates, engages, and serves your audience, begin testing
out that content on Instagram Stories. You’ll be happy you