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Infographic: Lessons from the Top 20 B2B and B2C Brands on Instagram

Instagram has become a solid vehicle for brand stories. Internet users of all ages are dedicating unhealthy amounts of time to their feeds, and the ability to add filters to everyday photos has made telling others about our lives a lot more interesting. Nitrogram, a company that provides analytics and engagement platforms on Instagram, produces the "Nitrogram 50"-- a list of the most popular brands on Instagram. I studied the Top 10 B2C and B2B brands on their list and gathered some insights about what makes them work and why their strategies make financial sense. Feel free to download and share the infographic embedded below.

After analyzing these 20 brands, here's some actionable advice:

1. Contextualize your product: Starbucks' Instagram account is a massive, colorful answer to the question: where/when/with whom do you drink coffee? How do Starbucks' drinks fit in your lifestyle? If you're in the office, what does your desk look like? If it's cold outside, are you wearing a comfy knit sweater? If you're in the beach, can you use Starbucks cups to build a sandcastle? (The answer is "The fun doesn't end when you finish your drink"). WHY IT MAKES $ENSE: By focusing on the entire customer journey and giving you sneak peeks of the consumption context, Starbucks is performing nothing less than a brilliant inception. Next time you crave Starbucks within any of these contexts, you'll think it was your idea all along. 

2. Embrace babies and pets, aka "The cute factor": The Ellen Show uses the words adorable and cute like nobody's business. They ask you to caption irresistible pictures of cats, puppies, kids and funny babies -- somewhat reflecting Ellen's on-screen personality. WHY IT MAKES $ENSE: Evaluate your brand's affinity with babies and pets to determine whether you can harness the internet's obsession with them to your advantage. Pictures with the "cute" or "funny" factor are extremely efficient at generating conversations and interaction. Once the conversation is going, your followers will establish a closer relationship with your brand, creating a strong barrier to entry for competitors. 

3. Crowdsource stunning pictures: This is Natgeo's core strength. They've amassed over 2.7 million followers by posting close-ups and panoramic shots of animals, people and places that would spark anyone's curiosity. To do so, Natgeo leverages its amazing team of photographers and mentions them in every post. Because almost none of their photos contain any text overlays, and can be easily appreciated by anyone (speaking any language), their followers come from every corner of the world. WHY IT MAKES $ENSE: Quality photography piques your followers' interest and provides the "visual escapade" that many of them look for when they approach Instagram. By selecting these pictures out of your users/employees' own accounts (and giving them credit for it), you are strengthening your brand community in ways that make brand switching harder. 

4. Refer to aspirations and dreams: I've met very few people who wouldn't want to be/meet a Victoria's Secret Angel. This brand obviously understands this idea and plays it up in every single post. Paradisiac locations, supermodel perks and beauty shots are all over Victoria's Instagram account. WHY IT MAKES $ENSE: Attaching aspirations to your brand, and convincing followers that the two are related, allows you to establish a price premium (i.e. charge more than competitors).

5. Share insider secrets: Many follow Instagram accounts to get behind-the-scenes information about the brands they love. The pictures you share should give them exclusive and first hand news about events and situations that only your brand has access to. Nike uses this tactic successfully by constantly showing us famous sports players training or in the middle of a game. Though Nike products are being displayed, the real hook in these images is who is wearing what, and when. Nike uses aspirations to appeal to followers, while also sharing key announcements that make followers feel special. WHY IT MAKES $ENSE: Creating your own channel to share brand news directly with your audience pays off in PR crises. When thousands of voices want to tell their own version of the story, you'll have a crowd that can hear it straight from you.

Infographic: Lessons from the Top 20 B2B and B2C Brands on Instagram

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions feel free to email me at, comment right here, tweet @leanbranding or leave a comment on our wall at

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