The most popular brands on Instagram are never the ones you think they're gonna be.
Once upon a time, Instagram was a much simpler place. There wasn't any talk of pay-for-play, brands could figure out their optimal posting times and stick to a regular schedule, the territory of Instagram brands was much less saturated, and the FTC minded its own business.
Let's just say things have changed.
The channel isn't the free market it used to be, and companies have had to get hyper-tactical with just about everything concerning Instagram marketing and their social media strategy. From how they approach the conception of creative assets to community-building methods, all the way to optimized data analysis. And much, much more in between. Instagram and marketing were made for each other, but this happy marriage takes work.
Seeing as the visual social network is still a significant recent addition to our generational vernacular, the playbook for using Instagram as a marketing tool is still being written. As brands truck along, the progress made for Instagram best practices inevitably brings forth new sets of challenges to master.
Let's face it: the algorithm is the industry's dirty little word, irking both brands and influencers who are marketing through Instagram. While it's added a layer of complication to cracking the code of how to get the highest Instagram engagement rate, there are ways around it. In its defence, the algorithm has chased the mediocre out of content and raised the quality bar.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the A-word has made it a lot harder for any account to drive engagement to its content, which has many marketers asking how the unicorns are doing it. For that reason, we scraped some Instagram statistics to find 10 of the top-performing brands on the app.
Cactus Club Cafe is the only restaurant or food feature on this list and for good reason. While they post the typical food and event shots on their Instagram, they add a little bit of spice to their feed to make themselves stand out from the rest. With just a quick scroll on their feed, you’ll see various memes and even a post about the Spotify playlist they use in their restaurant. If you’re looking for something more, you can even see dishes being prepared from scratch by their chefs.
College football is one of the largest phenomena in the US, so it’s only right that the dedicated Instagram account has a better-than-average engagement rate. While you’d expect the account to mostly rely on stats and news (they do), there is also a lot of content that makes us laugh. Who said football always needs to be so serious? Not ESPNCFB.
If you’re looking to shed some tears, Upworthy is the Instagram account for you. These “professional onion cutters” share some of the sweetest content you’ll ever find on the Internet. While most of their content consists of screenshotted tweets, they also offer a healthy mix of reposts, Reels and memes to break up the flow. Of course an account that is dedicated to making people feel good would have amazing engagement.
The Lacrosse Network uses its Instagram to “highlight the fastest game on two feet”. Followers receive constant updates on team rosters, gaming schedules and championships. They also use their platform to play fun games like “who did it better”, and to give users the opportunity to get to know players a little better.
Luxury brand Jacquemus has possibly one of the most aesthetically pleasing Instagram accounts we have ever seen. While the majority of their content is still shots of their latest products and bags, they do have a nice sprinkling of Reels that are giving followers a little insight into the behind-the-scenes of the brand. Jacquemus himself regularly makes appearances on the account not only to share product launches but also snippets of his life.
Millie Bobby Brown’s beauty brand Florence by Mills has constantly received high engagement from Instagram users. Whether it's because of their fun, youthful products and content, or just solely based on the popularity of Millie herself, the brand is definitely a success story. Florence by Mills is constantly keeping up with trending content and sharing UGC in order to keep its younger audience engaged.
GQRecommends is a one-stop shop for the products that editors for GQ are loving. Their content is jam-packed full of clothing, skincare, fitness equipment, furniture, and of course, celebrities. The engagement for these posts is likely so high because GQ is known as a trusted resource for what’s trending and ‘hip’.
A spinoff of How I Met Your Mother, How I Met Your Father has been seeing exceptional engagement on their Instagram account. This could be due to the star-studded cast but is even more likely because of the exclusive behind-the-scenes and teaser content that is being fed to audiences. This type of content is so exciting and engaging for those who are invested in the show and keep wanting more.
Ring has dedicated its brand to making homeowners feel safe, so it’s no surprise the engagement on their posts is through the – metaphorical – roof. You may find yourself wondering how a home security brand has garnered such an invested following, but the answer is simple: UGC. The brand loves reposting the funny videos its customers catch on their cameras, and users love watching them.
LoveStoriesTV is the internet's destination for real love stories and wedding inspo. Followers will be bombarded with dress reveals, party videos and enough flowers to make your head spin. Since LoveStories TV relies on video and streaming, it’s no surprise that their Instagram account is full of some of the most engaging Reels we’ve ever seen. You’re sure to be swooning by the end of your scrolling.
There's quite a diversity of brands on this list, proving that a high engagement rate (read: strong audience resonance) is up for grabs in any industry. It's not surprising to see that segments inciting fandom are popular, such as niche accounts and television shows, but there are a few unexpected players in the top 10 that are really retaining user attention with their Instagram content.
If you're striving to be the best, there's always room for improvement when marketing via Instagram. So go take a step back to analyze your current strategy and review all the best practices to make some adjustments where needed. You got this.