There’s no one way to succeed on Instagram.

Some rely on advertisements and established brand names to build a following, while others have to stir up the grassroots to gain success.

Below, I’ve singled out the campaigns I think have done a great job of creating compelling, engaging Instagram campaigns sure to connect with followers.

Best Instagram Campaigns of 2018

 

Some brands have already jumped headfirst into the Instagram game (86% of top brands, in fact),  while others are still getting their feet wet.

Whichever category you fall into, you should know there are a few key elements to ensure Instagram success. Those include:

  • Timing – this should align with company goals, industry events, or current trends, depending on the goal of your campaign
  • Always create a campaign with your target audience in mind – like all marketing efforts, your content, creative, and end goals will revolve around what’s most relevant and engaging to your audience
  • Set clear, measurable goals – don’t just throw up a few photos here and there; have a strategy outlined and set goals (and monitor along the way)
  • Run tests – and then, run more. Test your images, your CTAs, your captions, everything to make sure you’re getting as much engagement as possible
  • Use a cross-channel strategy – your Instagram efforts should coincide with a broader, multi-channel digital strategy
  • And when in doubt, draw inspiration from fellow content creators

Let’s take a deeper look at that last point and some of the brands who have a jumpstart on 2018.

  1. National Geographic

Best Instagram Campaigns - National Geographic

Best Instagram Campaigns – National Geographic

Why it Works: Simple: great photography. The core of Instagram is in its photography, and National Geographic is no stranger to stunning shots. They consistently provide engaging, beautiful photography that continues to please their 86.8 million followers.

The Takeaway: Focus on your strengths. Whether it’s photography, clever hashtags, or funny captions, find a way to highlight your expertise. You don’t need gimmicks, just a little expertise. Find your angle on Instagram and stick with it.

  1. #MeToo

Best Instagram Campaigns - #metoo

Best Instagram Campaigns – #metoo

Why it Works: To say that this has taken over national news is an understatement. The MeToo movement could very well prove to be one of the defining movements of 2018, and it all started with a hashtag from actress Alyssa Milano. Granted, it began on Twitter, but the call quickly spread to Instagram.

Its success comes from the fact that it’s relatable. It calls on a shared experience that transcends ages, job titles, and even genders. It’s a small action that anyone can take to contribute to a much larger cause, and therefore appeals to the masses.

The Takeaway: Find your rallying cry. It doesn’t have to be tied to a cause, it can be something as simple as #EatVeggies. It just has to have broad appeal.

  1. Best Instagram Campaigns: Dollar Shave Club UK

Best Instagram Campaigns - Dollar Shave Club UK

Best Instagram Campaigns – Dollar Shave Club UK

Why it Works: Dollar Shave Club recently launched in the UK, and with it came pop-up free shave shops and partnerships with social media influencers. One of the touchpoints of the campaign has been comedy, and it’s clear in the video above. The company uses humor and relatability to its advantage, catching users attention with relatable situations that link back to the company’s message.

In addition to funny videos like the one above, Dollar Shave Club consistently posts helpful tips and tricks for growing and trimming the ideal beard.

The Takeaway: A little humor goes a long way. Find a way to put some life into an otherwise “boring” subject, and even industries like shaving can succeed on Instagram.

  1. Visa

Best Instagram Campaigns - Visa

Best Instagram Campaigns – Visa

Why it Works: Since 2000, Visa has been accepting athletes into its “Team Visa” program to provide support for them to achieve their sporting goals. This year, they launched a special campaign to support their members ahead of the Winter Olympics. They branded themselves as the “official payment technology partner of the Olympic Games,” and continuously posted pictures of its athletes on their Olympic journeys.

It worked because it capitalized on a current, popular event. Not only were they advertising something making headline news, but it allowed them to include trending hashtags like #PyeongChange2018, and received double the advertisement as features athletes shared the posts to their accounts.

The Takeaway: Incorporate current events and trending topics. People will be searching for information and posts, so find a way to incorporate it into your strategy.

5. Best Instagram Campaigns: Stella Artois

Best Instagram Campaigns - Stella Artois

Best Instagram Campaigns – Stella Artois

Why it Works: Stella Artois combined two marketing tactics to deliver their latest campaign: influencer marketing and a purpose-driven campaign. The beer company partnered with nonprofit Water.org and famous actor Matt Damon to launch a social initiative: purchase a Stella Artois chalice, and they’ll make a donation to the foundation.

This works for a couple reason: a.) the influence of a famous actor and the extension of his fans, and b.) it provides a purpose, and a reason to purchase the product for a greater cause.

The Takeaway: Find a way to motivate people’s humanity. Generally speaking, people like to support causes and feel like they’ve contributed to something bigger than themselves. If you can find a way to connect your product with a cause, you’ll have a strategy for success. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have someone famous advertise it.

  1. Elon Musk

Best Instagram Campaigns - Elon Musk

Best Instagram Campaigns – Elon Musk

Why it Works: Granted, this isn’t exactly a brand. But the name Elon Musk is synonymous his companies like Tesla and the Boring Company, so you know, go with it. Why his Instagram works so well is that he uses it to showcase the strengths and benefits of his products. Because his name is so intertwined with what he does, he can use his status to bring a positive image to his brand.

The Takeaway: The face of your company can make a big impact on today’s socially driven world. Try putting a face to your brand, and interacting through that voice. You’ll be surprised at how well you’re able to connect.

  1. Best Instagram Campaigns: Madewell

Best Instagram Campaigns - Madewell

Best Instagram Campaigns – Madewell

Why it Works: This particular Madewell campaigns works so well because it relies on user-generated content. The clothing line motivates people to contribute by including the possible reward of being featured on their website in the #everydaymadewell section. Users simply upload pictures of themselves wearing the clothes with the hashtag #everydaymadewell. It works so well because it engages users and relies on their contributions. And with 293,931 posts including the hashtag thus far, I’d say it’s working.

The Takeaway: Include your audience. Ask them to submit their own content, and they’ll form a more personal connection with your brand. Remember to include some sort of reward or motivation to get the ball rolling.

  1. Glossier

Best Instagram Campaigns - Glossier

Best Instagram Campaigns – Glossier

Why it Works: Glossier takes the influencer marketing approach. They give major Instagram beauty influencers free samples of their products in exchange for a review or photo with the #glossier hashtag. So far, the tactic is working. Glossier attributes 90% of its revenue to word of mouth, unpaid promotion.

The Takeaway: Two words: influencer marketing. Connecting with major influencers in your specific niche is a great way to spread brand awareness and encourage sales. A recommendation from an influencer acts as a recommendation from a trusted friend, which proves far more effective than self-promotion from a brand advertisement. Get to work finding influencers and creating out a strategy to get them on board.

Wrapping Up the Best Instagram Campaigns

Creating a compelling campaign is easier said than done – and I bet any of the brands listed above will agree with me.

The key is to draw from proven marketing tactics: influencer marketing, social movements, user-generated content, current events, etc.

Remember, Instagram is photo-driven, but the meaning behind those photos is what counts.

By incorporating those proven marketing elements, you’ll be on your way to Instagram success in 2018.