Since 2012 when it was bought by Facebook, Instagram has transformed from a fun social network for selfies and pet photos to one of marketing’s top platforms for visual content.
Instagram boasts over 1 billion monthly active users who use the likes of video, stories and IGTV. The platform allows brands to create a connection with a massive audience visually, with some brands being excellent at it.
Here are the 8 brands with the most followers on Instagram (as of November 2018) – let’s take a look at how they’ve built such high followings.
Top Brands on Instagram
- National Geographic
- Real Madrid
Followers: 260 million
Instagram set a great example for brands who really want to engage an audience on their app. They curate and repost their users’ captivating content onto their own profile, showing their followers that anyone can meet their artistic potential on the platform. This inspires and encourages brands and normal users to put time and effort into creating visually gripping content.
2. National Geographic
Followers: 93.2 million
National Geographic hire the most talented photographers in the world, so their Instagram profile is filled with inspiring landscapes, cityscapes and the surrounding life. But their giant following isn’t just down to their stunning visuals. National Geographic is a historic magazine famous for their compelling storytelling and credible journalism. In each of their Instagram post captions, they create fascinating narratives about the photo or video, often in a way that spreads awareness for a relevant environmental issue.
In addition, they use Instagram Stories and IGTV to drive traffic to featured articles and videos on their website. But they also know their followers prefer to not leave the app. So they summarize the featured article or video in their stories and IGTV shows instead of coaxing people into visiting their website. For marketers, this clarifies that it’s crucial to meet your audience where they are, and not force them to go somewhere else.
Followers: 81.6 million
Nike is known in the advertising industry for their motivational ads that inspire athletes to work hard and meet their full potential. They follow this theme on Instagram, with posts in the form of documentaries, short films, and inspirational photos and videos. Nike also update their Instagram followers with news about the sports world, showing that they understand their audience’s desires and interests.
4. Real Madrid
Followers: 64.9 million
Being one of the most popular football teams in the world, Real Madrid’s Instagram posts mostly consist of updating their massive fan base on scores, highlights and transactions.
But the way they attract and engage double the amount of followers compared to other big teams isn’t just through updates. They give their fans an inside look of the team’s everyday activities through practice highlights and player takeovers on IGTV.
Breaking down the barrier between fans and players allows Real Madrid’s fanbase to get to know their favourite players on a personal level. This develops a more loyal relationship between them.
Followers: 48 million
With plenty of baby, dog and cat videos, dancing nans, and jokes that are too relatable, 9GAG is one of the most amusing accounts on Instagram.
They use Instagram stories in addition to drive traffic to their website by asking people to swipe up and see if they correctly guessed the name of a movie or TV show with emojis as clues. On IGTV, they hold live Q&As with celebrities which generates even more brand engagement.
As the only online content platform on this list, 9GAG proves to marketers that interacting with your audience is one of the most effective ways of engaging them and attracting more followers.
Followers: 36.6 million
Have a scroll through NASA’s Instagram feed – it’ll make you feel a little bit like an astronaut floating through the depths of space. You’ll get to see intimate views of constellations, supernovas and planets. These are all taken by NASA’s spacecrafts and Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA also educate their followers about interesting space insights. Such as the search for life in space, and their new technology and launches.
We are in a time where most people think social media does nothing but rot your brain. However, NASA’s Instagram popularity proves that you can create educational content without sacrificing any entertainment value.
Followers: 31.8 million
It might surprise you that NBA is on the list, considering that basketball is only the seventh most popular sport in the world. But when you understand their Instagram strategy, their success on the platforms will make sense.
Most of their Instagram posts are countdowns on each team’s and player’s best plays. By posting top plays on Instagram, the NBA’s content appeals to all of their team’s and star’s fan bases. With this they reach a tonne of basketballs fans across the globe.
But the NBA doesn’t just us this strategy to maximise their Instagram reach. They also host Q&As, account takeovers, and behind-the-scenes access videos of team facilities on their Instagram Stories. This gives fans an inside look at their players’ life on and off the court. The NBA know how to personalise their content, relate to their audience, and break down the barriers between their players and fans.
Followers: 30.8 million
The legendary fashion brand evokes nostalgia in fashionistas all over the world, by posting old ads. Throwback Thursday will always be big on social media, and they take #tbt to the next level. Chanel also posts lots of content about Coco Chanel’s early fashion influencers to promote Inside Chanel, a web series that recounts Coco’s life and how she built her empire in fashion.
Harnessing the power of the past is an effective way to evoke and emotional response from your audience. Nostalgia should always be in your marketing strategy.