The Best Businesses On Instagram And How They Do It

The Best Businesses On Instagram


After the acquisition by Facebook back in 2012, Instagram’s popularity has continued to soar with the platform now at over 800 million active accounts worldwide. As any good marketer knows, your company should go where the people go, so naturally, companies have started to gravitate toward the platform in an attempt to engage with those 1.6 billion eyeballs.


There is a common misconception when it comes to Instagram that it is only a valuable marketing tool for companies that have a visual product or service. This is a myth! In this article I’ll show you 5 companies who are crushing it on Instagram, only 2 of which have a physical product! There are loads of different ways to engage with people and build your brand through Instagram, so here are who I think are the best businesses on Instagram and how they make the platform work for them:

1) National Geographic, 85million followers


National Geographic’s Instagram account has the most followers of any organisation (except Instagram themselves), and, as you’d expect, is packed full of amazing photography from every corner of the globe. But to engage lots of people they need to be sharing great content consistently and with variety – sounds tough right?

The way they do this is by collaborating with experienced photographers from all over the world. This mutually beneficial relationship between National Geographic and the photographers they use, results in spectacular and engaging content. They get to use amazing pictures for their magazine and Instagram, and the photographers get their work exposed to 85million people globally.


2) Airbnb, 2.7m followers


Airbnb are crushing it on Instagram! This is in part due to collaboration, similar to National Geographic, which gives them access to amazing pictures from all over the world where they have ‘airbnb hosts’. But another significant factor that helps to engage their audience is that they aren’t directly selling their holidays; the content is selling experiences. It’s showing the emotions and adventures you can have all over the world and then as a subsequent point; you can stay with Airbnb when you do it. Genius.


3) GoPro, 13.5m followers


There seems to be a recurring theme here…collaboration. Similarly to National Geographic and Airbnb, GoPro are utilising the power of collaborations. However the way GoPro do it is slightly different, they use UGC (user generated content) to promote and advertise their products. This is an inspired way to use Instagram because:

  1. It creates engagement by requiring participation.
  2. It is free advertising and time-efficient – they don’t have to craft the content themselves.
  3. It showcases how great their product is by encouraging others to get the best pictures/videos possible using them.

Again, GoPro aren’t actively selling their products, they are showcasing the amazing and versatile experiences humans have throughout the world… and you happen to be able to capture these perfectly using a GoPro.



4) FedEx, 81,700 followers


FedEx also get heaps of engagement on their posts considering they are a delivery company – not the most glamorous. This is because they also incorporate UGC into their content, through their “Fedex in the wild” campaign. This campaign encouraged people to take photos whenever they saw FedEx vans or planes as a part of their daily life, meaning the brand was always on their mind and the company got great engaging content.

Although FedEx’s campaign was inspired and resulted in lots of engagement, it is worth mentioning that FedEx also get a lot of angry comments from frustrated customers on their posts. Unlike traditional advertising, Instagram is a social network, which can be great for building relationships and engaging with customers, however it also means that if you have given a bad service there is a very visible place for people to voice their frustration with you.


5) Adidas, 18.2m followers


Adidas have an amazing Instagram page, which is predominately made up of video posts. Video has been shown to be the most engaging content online, with predictions stating that by 2020, 80% of social content will be video (1). Adidas are leading the charge with this by posting unique and engaging videos regularly to their Instagram. Like many of the companies in this list, Adidas are not actively selling their products through Instagram, they are showing concepts and ideologies that they want to be aligned with the brand. For example their #HereToCreate campaign, positioned Adidas as the brand of choice for people who want to make a difference, inspire, and create something new.

What can you Learn from them?


So these businesses are all crushing it on Instagram, what are the similarities and how can you be like them? Firstly, they all encourage collaboration, whether it is a video of skiing with your GoPro or just a quick snap of a FedEx van driving past, these businesses are getting their customers involved in their account. Not only does this promote engagement, but it also adds a degree of authenticity which is essential in social media. Through this authenticity the companies are staying true to their identity, it allows them to display what their values are, what they want to achieve, and why they do what they do. This is much more relatable and engaging than pictures of board rooms and warehouses. 


Furthermore, none of these companies are actively selling their products or services through Instagram, instead they are selling ideas, emotions and experiences which are so much more engaging. They are aligning their brands with ways of life. For example, the desire to create or to achieve or embark on adventures. Lastly they use unique strategies to get people involved with their accounts. For example FedEx’s ‘FedEx in the wild’ campaign, or GoPro’s ‘Photo of the Year’ competition. By appealing to an audience’s deeper motivations, encouraging customer collaborations and providing consistent content, you are sure to grow both your engagement and your following on Instagram!


We help all sorts of businesses find their audience, create their strategy and grow their engagement. Check out our Instagram Training Course.


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