6 Minutes Read | Communications

How Marketers Use Visual Storytelling To Build Instagrammable Brands

Iris Leung

Blog Editor | Piktochart

By now, marketers should be well aware of how powerful a platform Instagram is when it comes to influencing user behavior. In fact, 75% of Instagram users will reportedly “take action” after seeing an advertisement on their feed.

Out of those users, 43% are influenced to make a purchase after viewing a post, and more specifically, 64% of female Instagram users say that images affect their shopping habits on mobile.

That’s just one of the many stats that showcase Instagram’s persuasive prowess. Despite knowing this, not all marketers are familiar with exactly how to leverage the powers of Instagram to build an engaging brand.

So how can you use Instagram to tell your brand story in the best way possible? We spoke to three marketers to get the skinny on using visual storytelling to build an instagrammable brand.


Which Brands Work Best For Instagram?

It may seem like common sense, but there are some brands that are ill-suited for Instagram as a brand-building platform, and it’s important to know whether you’re a good fit or not.

“Instagram is best suited for brands with visually-stimulating products. Several of the brands making great headway reflect beauty, lifestyle, food, travel, and personal growth,” said Deirdre Breakenridge, the CEO of Pure Performance Communications.

Fashion and Beauty
She thinks that ASOS, a British online fashion and beauty store, is one brand example that is quite suited to Instagram and has figured out how to bridge the gap between product showcasing and driving sales.

Serious shoe game, with 20% off. Yes please. 🔎 975864

A post shared by ASOS (@asos) on


“They have a broad range of products and reasonable prices, but expensive enough for buyers to feel a sense of exclusivity,” Breakenridge says. “The item numbers for all clothing featured in their photos are in each caption, so consumers can easily find those products online.”

Katerina Petropoulou, a Social Media Marketing Specialist with Laureate Online Education, zeroes in on fashion and lifestyle brands as the perfect fit for Instagram.

She references WhoWhatWear as a publisher that “uses Instagram stories in the right way to drive traffic to their website, as it’s a great example for other brands that are possibly looking to monetize their Instagram presence.”


To add, we also scoured the web to include some brand examples of our own for food, travel, and personal growth. 

Food

Oreo, the classic cookie company, is a great example of a food brand that gets creative and playful with its posts. Its latest campaign has basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal “dunking” oreos, and other videos that are full of basketball and space puns.

Travel

Airbnb is great at inspiring the wanderlust in its users. It does this by by pairing user-generated content and influencer posts, all of which showcase its users on the road in picturesque accommodations that are sometimes a bit off the beaten path.

Personal Growth
Lorna Jane is an example of one of the many successful lifestyle influencers on Instagram that taps into a follower base that is very motivated towards personal growth.

Besides posts from Lorna Jane herself, the brand also posts motivational quotes and images of women that embody the target buyer persona for active wear.

Using Instagram Stories
Katerina also points out that Instagram Stories is actually a useful tool for brands that are operating on a tight budget.

“It’s important to have fun with it. Instagram stories, for example, is a great feature for brands that don’t necessarily have the resources to create high quality content all the time for their profile.

They can benefit from the casual ‘behind the scenes’ nature of stories to produce engaging content for their audience.”

To get started, she advises brands to take their time to “engage with influencers” and “people in their community” by liking and commenting in their content.


The Common Pitfalls of Instagram Brand Building

Ryan Shelley, CGO and founder of SMA Marketing told us that although it’s common knowledge that visuals will evoke emotion much faster than text can, it’s important to point out that not all visuals are actually worth sharing.

“Brands that take the time to create images that are emotionally appealing are the ones that should take advantage of Instagram. Everyone with a clothing company or cool gadget posts without thinking much of the time.

With so much noise on Instagram, taking the time to differentiate is what separates winners from losers.”

Nike is a great example of a sports brand that uses the emotional appeal of personal struggle to hook its followers.

Ryan points out that the mistake that brands are making on Instagram, and on social media in general, is over selling. This is seen in brands that appear to be posting just for the sake of it, instead of being more intentional.

“The power of social media is in the connection. It’s about creating relationships, not leads. The brands that over self-promote turn people off and end up losing credibility,” he said. “My advice? Stop forcing it. Just be yourself and share your story. Be a human being and treat people like people.”

Ryan uses LEGO as an example of a product company that has excelled at creating a culture around their brand. “They are not afraid to have a personality. That’s what people want,” he says.

As for Katerina, she likes what global coworking brand WeWork is doing on Instagram. “Their visuals are great so fresh and modern. They also use animations which are real attention grabbers.

What they do best is that they offer a taste of their product, a sneak peak into how being a WeWork member feels like without being too sales-y.”

Lunch break for the win! #tgim #wework

A post shared by WeWork (@wework) on

To add, Deirdre says that when brands “lose their authenticity” and are unable to stay in tune with what their users want, that’s when they fail.

“Although trendiness and curated aesthetics are major components to Instagram’s enormous appeal, people will always see through insincerity and a disingenuous brand,” she said and points out that the Internet is a ruthless place where any false move that diminishes a brand’s reputation can spread like wildfire.

So brands should tread carefully.

“Another big fail for any brand is not having a purpose to participate. Always know your goals and what you’re trying to achieve.”


Unconventional Brands That Are Winning Instagram

So what if you’re a brand that isn’t naturally Instagrammable? Can you still use Instagram to build a community? All signs point to yes.

Across the board, our panel of marketers agree that General Electric is one brand that is actively leveraging Instagram to share their company culture and story. GE is a good example because they’re not a traditionally “instagrammable” brand, but they’ve figured out how to make it work.

Deirdre also shares that Staples, the popular office supply store chain, is one unexpected brand that’s “making headway” on Instagram. She cites their “playful images, GIFs and videos paired with captivating text” as types of content that Staples has been using to win over their community.


Get In Touch With Us On Instagram

Our Piktochart Instagram feed takes after some of the above examples, mixing in motivational quotes, design inspiration, video content, and posts where we boast about our users as well as our company culture.

We’d love if you got in touch with us there!

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