Instagram is proving to be a hugely important social network for brand marketers.
The limited functionality restricts the ability to drive any direct traffic or sales from the app, but it’s a great way to shape a brand’s image and improve reach among a younger audience.
For global brands this is a fairly easy task as they have massive marketing budgets and will attract a big following without even trying too hard, but smaller businesses can also gain decent exposure.
Here I’ve rounded up a number of different small businesses that are using Instagram for social marketing.
They don’t all have 50,000 followers, but they are sharing creative, interesting content to lure in a niche audience of potential customers.
For more on this topic read how ecommerce sites can use Instagram and 20+ stats that show why the app is important for marketers.
Camp Brand Goods
Camp Brand Goods has been selling fleece and casual wear in Canada since 2011.
The company’s brand image reflects its origins in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, so the Instagram feed is full of gorgeous landscapes.
Obviously this type of content goes down very well on Instagram as people enjoy looking at spectacular nature shots, but CBG still does an excellent job of posting regular updates that don’t veer towards being too salesy.
The photos only occasionally feature Camp Brand Good products and generally receive upwards of 3,000 ‘likes’.
Interestingly hashtags are used very sparingly, which makes the brand’s success all the more commendable. In general it only uses its own brand hashtags – #campbrandgoods and #keepitwild.
Rock My Wedding
British blog Rock My Wedding post pictures of, you guessed it, wedding stuff.
It’s a popular blog on these shores and the additional exposure it garners on Instagram will certainly help its traffic stats.
The blog posts feature different couples on their special day and provide inspiration for brides-to-be by discussing the latest wedding trends.
As such there’s plenty of attractive imagery to share, and who doesn’t love looking at wedding photos?
33 Acres Brewing Company
Microbreweries are hugely popular among the hipster classes right now, so what better place to advertise your wares than on Instagram?
33 Acres Brewing Company has established its own unique style on Instagram, posting all of its photos in landscape with a white border.
It’s a strange approach to take as it reduces the already small size of the images but it also gives some additional quirkiness.
The Instagram feed includes images of the brewery’s products, the great outdoors, the company premises, and even the owner’s dear wife.
There are no hard sales pitches, instead 33 Acres is giving a look behind-the-scenes at the brewery and building an approachable brand image.
How many other beer brands would post images of people doing yoga?
The Brooklyn Circus
The Brooklyn Circus won first place at the Shorty Awards for best use of social media in the small business category, so it clearly deserves to be on this list.
Its Instagram feed consists of really, really, ridiculously goodlooking photos of style icons, its clothing range, landscapes, cityscapes, and hipster-friendly content such as old motorcycles.
The photos are unfailingly stylish and do a great job of making The Brooklyn Circus appear as more than just a fashion label.
Craft beer brand Brewdog has established a reputation as a brash, mischievous company through its controversial PR work.
The founders regularly attack competitors and regulators to make a name for themselves and their company.
However the Instagram feed is a more low key affair, interspersing images of beer bottles with shots of actual dogs, employees and the brewing process.
It’s a nice way to show off the company culture and give people a look at how their favourite beers are made.
Brick Lane Bikes
Brick Lane Bikes began life as a small cycling shop but is now a well-respected bike brand.
It’s based the East End of London and sells an extensive range of fixies and vintage bikes, so it’s a painfully trendy place to buy your wheels.
It’s also a brand that’s tailormade for Instagram and has attracted some 9,500 followers.
The feed is essentially just loads of pictures of bikes, with the occasional picture of a bike part thrown in for good measure.
Definitely a niche account for bike lovers but one that has proved to be very popular.
I believe Pizza Pilgrims began life as a pop up restaurant, but now has two permanent locations in London’s Soho. Or so our head of social tells me.
Its feed is made up of amazing pizzas, dogs, scrabble, the team at Pizza Pilgrims, the kitchen, and other random stuff from around Soho.
It bring bags of personality to the brand and shows that restaurants don’t have to rely on pictures of food.
Everyone likes looking at pictures of food, so it’s relatively easy for restaurants to build up a decent following on Instagram.
Still, some are better at it than others, and Meat Liquor’s feed is worth a look.
Burgers feature heavily in the almost-daily updates, but there are also photos of the restaurants, customers, employees, tattoos and assorted weirdness.
Variety is the spice of life and Meat Liquor certainly provides enough to keep its followers interested.
It would be all too easy for a clothes shop to incessantly post images of its latest garments.
Vintage retailer Rokit Vintage avoids this cliché by posting quotes, fashion icons, retro movie stars, and other old school content.
Obviously there are a number of product-focused posts in there as well.
Now excuse me while I try to come to terms with the fact that nineties fashion is now described as vintage…