Instagram’s Creative Accounts to Follow in 2016

2016 is going to be the most competitive year ever for social media managers. Marketing strategies now seem to focus the majority of their attention on platforms like Periscope, Snapchat, and other new apps, but SMMs “in the know” will still tell you: “Instagram will continue to rule.” It remains free, balanced (try posting the same content to Facebook and Instagram, then compare how many of your fans actually respond to your post) and a lively hotbed of cultural conversation.  

And here are 7 brands who have been at Instagram for a while, figured out how to game it successfully without getting complacent or running out of creative ideas and show no signs of slowing down now:

Goofy Images Work on Instagram

MailChimp exploded last year – in all the right ways – and is poised to continue its reign in 2016. The email marketing service took off in part thanks to its having had the foresight to sponsor the first season of “Serial,” which quickly became the most successful podcast of all time.

Contently, which points out MailChimp’s exceptional work on social, says fans can open up the marketer’s profile at a random time of the day and find “the company’s talent recruitment team taking a goofy photo together, or a shot of an artist who performed at an in-office event, or the company’s mascot, Freddie, posing with some of the Atlanta sports world’s furriest luminaries.”

Nerf/life balance is important.

A photo posted by MailChimp (@mailchimp) on

Focus on the Lifestyle

Red Bull is doing great marketing work on Instagram because they don’t seem like they’re marketing, notes AdEspresso. “You won’t necessarily see a lot of images featuring the drink – and that’s the point.” Red Bull has apparently realized that selling a lifestyle on social is the same as selling it on TV and that it’s just as important to the success of the brand.


Post the Wacky Stuff

Not enough brands use humor to soften the usually obvious, heavy-handed marketing they’re forced to do to keep sales rising. While brands like Skittles, BuzzFeed, Charmin, and Oreo have made waves for their occasional forays into envelope-pushing Tweets, Taco Bell has outright embraced wacky, the off-the-wall humor of the variety of, well, late-night comedians who make fun of Taco Bell.

“Whoever Runs Taco Bell’s Twitter Account Deserves A Raise,” the Huffington Post wrote (in a headline, no less!) after a particularly good run of Tweets, including an exchange in which a user pined for the day when Taco Bell realizes it could make boatloads of cash by finally instituting delivery. The brand shot back: “We’re probably going to make a lot of money today anyway. #Ballin”. Thousands of retweets and favorites later and the zinger arguably turned a complaint into a big plus.

Study squad.

A photo posted by Taco Bell (@tacobell) on


Focus on the Photography, Hashtags, and Employees’ Stories

General Electric. Wait. G.E.? The company mocked mercilessly as the Dark Overlords running NBC and the fictional T.G.S. show-within-a-show on “30 Rock”? Yes, the boring ol’ American mainstay combines beautiful photography, tasteful and well-chosen hashtags and stories of tech workers breaking new ground in their fields to give the account a reason to exist. When people ask how a non-visual, old school and the (let’s be honest) unhip product can succeed, show them G.E.’s Instagram.


Mashable is a clear consensus choice for a favorite Instagram account among media people who study social marketing trends. Theirs is an impressively confident brand to follow. Amazingly enough, they don’t seem to worry about losing followers – often using #FollowFriday to alert their 235,000-plus admirers to rival accounts with an impressive social output of their own.

“From artistic and beautifully edited shots to candid behind-the-scenes posts,” wrote the Shorty Awards back in March, “Mashable’s account has it all.”


Use your Online Community

Even though National Geographic has only been in the news recently for negative reasons (its controversial sale to Rupert Murdoch, massive layoffs, a dramatic change in brand messaging), that doesn’t mean its photographers have lost any amount of prestige. On The Photo Society, the popular Instagram account, National Geographic’s best staffers, and freelancers share their work and blow everyone’s minds ten times per day. With more than 3.2 million followers, this account is arguably more popular than the parent company these days.


Keep it Personal, yet Professional

Marc Jacobs will continue to blur the line between personal and professional branding in 2016. On Instagram earlier this month, Jacobs posted a photo of several of his friends goofing on Zoolander, which itself mocks the fashion world. Pot calling the kettle black or brilliant marketing? It doesn’t matter because, if we’re even discussing it seriously, that means it’s the latter.

Main Takeaways for Managing an Instagram Account

  1. Encourage your employees to participate in the content creation for the Instagram account (Mailchimp).
  2. Humorous images should be used to increase the engagement on the Instagram (Taco Bell).
  3. Highlight the lifestyle, which your brand offers (Red Bull).
  4. The elegant photography is the key to the Instagram’s account success (General Electrics).
  5. Tasteful, famous, and well-chosen hashtags should be used with the Instagram posts (Mashable).
  6. Images should be used to explain the groundbreaking stories of your workers, customers, and etc.
  7. Share your online community content (images) on the brand’s official account (National Geographics).

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