It’s 2018 folks, and by now, we should all have prolific social media presence across various platforms, but for those of us still lost in translation, overwhelmed by hashtags, and still working on cracking acronyms such as the ever pervasive just out of reach SEO, the following should put your mind at ease. In an attempt to demystify Instagram and how to best use this social networking app to your advantage, we will take a look at those companies who have ridden the crest of the ‘gram’ wave throughout 2017, attracting millions of followers along the way, and what it is that they do that earns them their places at the top of the charts.
5 Things to learn from those riding the crest of the Instagram wave
According to www.statista.com, in December 2017, National Geographic, Nike and Victoria Secret represented the Top 3 most followed brands with a collective following amounting to some 216.8M followers, others making up the most followed list included Real Madrid, 9GAG, Go Fun the World, and NASA. Together, this list beautifully exemplifies the diversity in society, and more importantly for the purpose of this post, provides a varied backdrop to further investigate why these guys make the best shepherds.
National Geographic – 83.4M – The Storytellers
Let’s get this out of the way first – NatGeo are the Godfather of social media, reigning supreme across all social platforms, they are officially the No.1 brand in social. How have they done this? One word – storytelling.
National Geographic photographers post images from all over the world prompting engagement on a mass level, averaging 20,374 engagement for their social posts. While there is no curation, or definite ‘theme’ across the account, the relevance of each uploaded image is staggering, and sobering – it is social commentary at its most beautiful, eliciting feelings in followers that really no other brand could.
Instagram Stories has also allowed us to feel part of the journey, and we are taken along on fantastic adventures with the photographers themselves, sharing in their experience, wherever that may be.
NatGeo are delivering for us bite size current affairs, easier to digest politics and much needed perspective on the world we live in through the stories that they tell, those which we can now be a part of and have our say too.
Nike – 75.4 – Live the Dream
Few slogans can compete with ‘Just Do It’, arguably one of the most iconic of our time. The spirit captured in these three words is unrivalled and has ensured that Nike earns its place in the spotlight.
Truly a lifestyle brand, the lines between social and ecommerce have blurred for Nike, with a host of celebrities and athletes alike endorsing the brand, their command to ‘Just Do It’ transcends track and field and is inspiring people across the globe to take action and overcome obstacles in any area of life, to be the best you can be.
Visually stunning videos with unparalleled sound engineering – the kind that covers your body in Goosebumps, feature superstars and average Joe’s achieving their goals alongside one another, wearing Nike, while hip hop artists and rappers live out their dreams performing on stage to millions of screaming fans, wearing Nike.
Posting an average of only three posts a month, it is not surprising that Nike favours quality over quantity, and in spite of the often ‘glossy’ feel of the video content, they are nonetheless gritty, thereby retaining accessibility and authenticity to a brand that we all want a piece of – we can all live the Nike dream and their Instagram account proves this.
Real Madrid – 54.1 – Mass Bants
“Sports has become one of the most popular topics followed on Instagram. About 243 million users, a third of Instagram’s 700 million users overall, follow at least 10 sports-related accounts”
– Brandon Gayle, Head of Global Sports Partnerships, Instagram.
Considering over half of those users follow football, it seems no shock that a football team whose star player also ranks as third most followed ‘celebrity’ on the platform would be playing such a strong game on the digital pitch too.
Adopting a ‘less is more’ approach, Real Madrid encourages user engagement with quizzes, invites them to wish players Many a Happy Return on their birthdays and welcomes comments from fans on merch. Adopting almost an ‘everyman’s’ position and genial tone in this sense wins them a greater fan base as they feel welcoming.
Followers are also offered glimpses into the lives of the players off-pitch, at work and play, with their teammates, and this sense of solidarity and camaraderie translates across all content and into the hearts of their loyal fanbase, which, thanks in part to Instagram now reaches much further than their local region.
NASA – 29.2 – For the Curious
Curiosity is a component part of what it means to be human, fundamental to our nature, our very advancement in this world has to do with being curious – enter stage right, NASA, who feed their hungry followers inquisitive minds with thrilling answers to questions about what is vastly unknown to us mere Earthlings.
Unexpectedly accessible, NASA have taken information rife with the potential to be highfalutin by embracing the world of social media, and having the courage to in many ways, to laugh at itself. The marriage of science and pop culture is key to success here, allowing the layman into a world that is as much awe inspiring as it is educational, “giving the average Joe a front seat to the wonders of the universe? It’s one small step for NASA, one giant leap for mankind.”
Use of Instagram Stories has also allowed us up close and personal with those few people who have travelled the 60 miles from Earth’s surface and into ‘space’ (only 562 people have actually ever been to space!), so in spite of the face it appears unlikely that we ourselves will ever take the trip, we are able to share it with those that can, getting a feel for what it would be like.
They say that curiosity killed the cat, but in this case, we are the sort that got the cream.
CHANEL – 25.3 – [No Longer] Invite Only
Relatively speaking, fashion houses are lolly-gaggers and late adopters to the world of social media, but Chanel has certainly made up for lost time, streaking ahead with some six million extra followers than its closest rival in this regard, Louis Vuitton.
Recognition that their brand story and consumer journey can continue across social platforms seems to have been a catalyst to their digital domination, with luxe video content reeking exclusivity facilitating this position.
As you would expect, not a hair is out of place across the account, and curation of video content and images is clipped and coherent, with a lusty, hazy feeling of sunlight cast across the entire gallery. While much of the material has been re-purposed or re-edited, we are still getting bang for our buck from Chanel who can rest sound in the knowledge that their followers would much rather see a series of images capturing the same party but from different angles, than not see it at all.
Followers are among the privileged populace invited to share in the extravagance of a party at Maison de Chanel, and in spite of an initial hesitance to partake in the world of social media for fear of cheapening the brand, Chanel has not only preserved, but in many ways bolstered their elite status with consistent content that delivers strong brand message and core values.
The work these brand behemoths put in to maintaining their online presence is paying off, and while each have a very different approach in how they do this, not one appears more or less of a recipe for success than the next.
The common thread here though is an instinctive understanding of their consumer base, those who will loyally follow them and in so doing, be ambassadors for the brand, so content posted is thoughtful and considered within these parameters meaning that though there are millions of people looking at the same thing, you feel it is has been almost gift wrapped, just for you.
In his 1996 essay, nearly some two decades ago, Bill Gates predicted “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet’, and he was right – curation of your craft and how you communicate this with the outside world needs to be meaningful, it needs to matter to those who follow you.
To be a good shepherd, or leader, you must know your audience and have vision and purpose, to guide those who follow you and take them on a journey that will be ultimately rewarding.