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Published October 21st 2016

The Best Instagram Campaigns and Why They Work

More and more brands are joining Instagram, but not all of them have worked out the best strategies yet. We look at the best Instagram Campaigns out there.

The oldest cave paintings so far discovered are said to be over 40,000 years old.

Humans have quite a history with visual imagery and while the medium might evolve, the storytelling power of an image has remained constant. From cave drawings to renaissance paintings, through Polaroid photos and Youtube videos, we have always loved an image.

As of June this year, Instagram has 500 million users. Half a billion people, sharing an average of 80 million photos a day.

It’s no wonder that brands have been keen to open up their own accounts and start crafting marketing campaigns on Instagram. The power of a photo, the reach of the platform, and the increasing number of advertising options available make it an enticing prospect.

Each time a new social network opens up to brands, they have to learn a new language. There are specific rules to each site, and there is nothing worse than a brand that gate-crashes a social conversation like a drunk uncle at a wedding.

So how do brands go about it? We’ve listed some of the best Instagram campaigns to highlight some innovative techniques and strategies currently being used.

Best Instagram campaign using User Generated Content

Starbucks #WhiteCupContest

In April 2014, Starbucks launched their #WhiteCupContest on Instagram. While it’s one of the best Instagram campaigns, it took minimal effort from the brand itself.

The idea had been suggested by customers on the My Starbucks Idea page. In fact, the white cups had long been used as a canvas by many budding artists, who would then often post the results on social media.


While the campaign was handed to them on a plate, Starbucks recognized a good idea when they saw one.

The campaign plays on something that was already happening on social media, publicizes it, adds a competitive element and costs virtually nothing for Starbucks. Everything was already set up; it just needed a hashtag.

The real benefit of this marketing campaign is the visibility it gives Starbucks on social media feeds. With little effort or money on their part, the decorated cups were seen across social by millions.

The Instagram campaign worked so well that Starbuck repeated the trick the following year at Christmas, with their controversial holiday season special edition red cups.

Best innovative Instagram campaign

Addicte Aide – “Like My Addiction”

At first sight, Louise Delage is a normal 25-year-old woman from Paris. She shares pictures on Instagram of her hanging out with friends, posing for a selfie or eating out at a nice restaurant.

Diner Time ?

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

Louise joined Instagram on August 1st 2016 and had amassed over 65,000 followers by Septemeber, and 50,000 likes.

There’s just one thing that isn’t immediately clear about Louise from her profile: she doesn’t exist.

The final Instagram post revealed the truth, with a montage of all 150 photos. You don’t need to understand French to get the message.

Like my addiction

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

The disturbing trend is slowly revealed: Louise is holding an alcoholic drink in almost every photo. She’s actually a creation of Parisian agency BETC in an Instagram campaign called “Like My Addiction” which was about raising awareness of alcohol addiction, and the difficulty in spotting addiction in people close to us.

It’s one of the best Instagram campaigns I’ve seen from a non-profit, getting people involved in a person’s story before making them question why they hadn’t noticed

This Adweek article on how the strategy was carried out makes for fascinating reading for any marketer, particularly how the agency managed to get such visibility and follower numbers in such a short space of time.

The ‘keeping up with the times’ award

National Geographic 

To be fair, this isn’t really a singular Instagram campaign, more a constant stream of excellence from an account.

If you are looking for the best Instagram brand accounts you’ll find many people looking towards the National Geographic account.

National Geographic has long been known for incredible, award-winning photography, so a visual social network makes sense. However, it is somewhat surprising that a brand that was founded in 1888 and had been more associated with stacks of yellow magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms than social media should be a pioneer and leader in the field.

With well over 60 million followers, National Geographic has moved with the times, and created loyal followers by posting relevant, high-quality content. Also, there are a lot of cute animals.

Best value added Instagram campaign

ASOS and affiliates

Global online clothes retailer ASOS has one of the best Instagram campaigns due to their innovative use of multiple accounts and the advice and extra value they provide for their followers through the accounts.

While the main ASOS account features photos of clothes available through the retailer, it’s the affiliated accounts that really make their strategy shine.

ASOS employs brand ambassadors, who run affiliated Instagram accounts (see asos_saralouiseasos_ashley). They look like fashion and lifestyle bloggers, and their accounts have thousands of followers each.

Feeling those 70s vibes today in this pretty vintage blouse @thevintagescene @asosmarketplace

A post shared by Sara Thomas (@asos_saralouise) on

For those wanting fashion tips, finding an ASOS ambassador whose style you admire is a handy way to get some inspiration.

What really works about all of the ASOS content is it isn’t just a hard sell of their available products. The ambassadors feel like genuine individuals living their everyday lives. The accounts feature as many food snaps and sunset photos as your friends’ accounts.

If you want to make the most of Instagram you need to track and analyze your efforts. Brandwatch Analytics features Instagram channels so you can maximize the impact of your Instagram marketing campaigns. Get in touch today for a free demo.

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