When it comes to soft drink brands on Instagram, Red Bull rules the roost. It sits at the top of the list in terms of influence and customer engagement.
Perhaps this is why they’re also the top-selling energy drink in the world. After all, it’s hard to sell your product without a solid marketing presence to bolster awareness.
By studying Red Bull’s Instagram strategies, you can give your brand wings too.
1. Know your audience (and yourself)
The first step in successfully marketing your brand is solidifying its identity. This involves figuring out the brand’s personality, and who it hopes to attract.
Red Bull is an excellent example of a brand that has cracked the code in these areas.
It’s clear from Red Bull’s Instagram content what it’s trying to be. The exclusive focus on extreme sports appeals to a market that is young, energetic and more than a touch rebellious. Red Bull’s imagery evokes a sense of freedom and high-octane excitement.
Remember that many consumers choose products based on what they communicate about themselves. For some, drinking Red Bull is a reflection of the lifestyle they aspire to.
2. Try something daring
On October 14, 2012, Red Bull pulled off one of the most ambitious marketing stunts ever devised. It was an event five years in the planning. Working with famed skydiver Felix Baumgartner, they sponsored a world-record jump and freefall from 128k feet in the air.
The Red Bull Stratos project was a historic accomplishment that dominated social media for months afterward. One of the reasons it became a major topic of discussion was because it was streamed live on YouTube for everybody to watch. In the weeks leading up to the event, Red Bull used Instagram to build hype levels to boiling point.
Sometimes it pays take risks and go big. Nothing grabs a viewer’s attention like a spectacle, especially one that they don’t get to see every day.
An event of this type gives you the opportunity to tease your followers and get them excited. You could even create an entire campaign in anticipation of the event.
3. Don’t promote too hard
Take a look at Red Bull’s Instagram feed. You’ll notice that there aren’t a whole lot of pictures and videos featuring their products. Nevertheless, the page is unmistakably representative of Red Bull’s ethos. This is the power of strong branding.
Some will tell you that you shouldn’t lose sight of selling your goods or services. That’s true to an extent. Businesses should always be considering their livelihood, and how best to drive traffic to their store.
However, aggressively blatant promotion isn’t always the best route. This is especially true on a platform like Instagram. Most of the users on it aren’t seeking out advertisements, and find it annoying if an ad interrupts the flow of their content consumption.
The best approach is a subtle one. Give your viewers content that has value beyond its marketing potential. For instance, the daredevil stunts that Red Bull showcases are entertaining and awe-inspiring, regardless of the brand association.
4. Be active and post frequently
A common problem with brands is that they don’t post enough, or they post at irregular intervals. It’s hard to get noticed if others rarely see your posts.
Red Bull serves as a good model to follow in this case. They tend to post new content every 2-4 hours. It’s a regular pattern that followers can easily predict.
Try to keep a consistent schedule, with posts spread throughout the day. Don’t dump all of your content at once. Keep in mind differences in time zones, and the peak hours for each zone. This is important for any brand with an international market.
Another solution is to operate multiple accounts, with each focusing on a specific regional audience. Red Bull has accounts catering to customers in the UK, Canada, Taiwan, France and many other locations.
5. Stay cohesive
Aesthetics are everything on Instagram.
It’s a social network entirely based around uploading, finding and sharing visually pleasing imagery. If you don’t produce high-quality, eye-catching content, you’ll never get anywhere on the platform.
An important element of this is having a unified style across your posts. Most stick to a distinct visual approach, as it’s something their followers can identify with the brand.
Last year, Red Bull formed an exclusive partnership with GoPro. This relationship has come to define their aesthetic style. Their Instagram videos are dynamic and full of movement, with the camera closely following the subjects.
Another benefit of visual cohesion is the cumulative effect it has on your feed. When somebody visits your page, they see all of your content organized into a visually coherent and satisfying grid.
6. Share between platforms
One of the most underlooked tactics that Red Bull utilizes is recycling content between its social media accounts. They will often repost videos from YouTube on their Instagram, and vice versa.
This is a technique that saves time and money. Some might be afraid to do this, as they think reusing content will bore their audience, but it’s wise to view each platform as having its own separate audience. You shouldn’t assume, for example, that everybody who follows you on Instagram has watched your YouTube videos.
Feel free to cross-promote your accounts too. For instance, you can put a teaser on Instagram or Twitter to advertise a full video that can be viewed on YouTube. This could help increase your follower counts on both platforms.
7. Hold contests
Contests are always a great way to attract attention to your Instagram page. Users love them because they’re low risk and high reward. Usually all they have to do is use a hashtag or follow an account.
Red Bull has contests fairly often. Their Red Bull Editions campaign was particularly successful. They asked their followers to submit photos that were colored red, silver or blue to celebrate their new flavor varieties.
Over 3,000 entries were received, each marked with the appropriate hashtag. The winners of the competition had their work featured on the official Instagram page, as well as on billboards in 5 cities.
There are a multitude of advantages to holding Instagram contests. Not only do they make your followers feel acknowledged for their contributions; they also provide you with a wealth of user-generated content. It’s beneficial for all parties involved.
8. Create branded hashtags
Hashtags are invaluable tools for boosting engagement rates. The social analytics platform Simply Measured found that posts with at least one hashtag had 12.6% more engagement than posts without any. This is why the top brands use an average of 7 hashtags.
Red Bull has launched many of their own branded hashtags, such as #PutACanOnIt. The idea behind this hashtag was simple: followers were asked to take a picture of themselves putting a Red Bull can on various objects. Some fans used this concept to make clever submissions that played with perspective.
Nearly 10,000 entries poured in from both Instagram and Twitter. The campaign was such a hit that other companies, such as Pepsi and Perrier, got involved.
Much like contests, hashtags can spark creativity in your viewers. Some hashtags go viral and catch on like wildfire. This can result in a major boom in brand recognition on the platform.
9. Work with influencers
Partnering with influencers is a necessary part of interacting with certain demographics. Influencers are trusted members of their respective communities, so their recommendation of a brand is taken seriously.
Red Bull, given their extreme-sports theme, tends to work with popular athletes in the field. For instance, they are currently teaming up with Austrian skateboarder and photographer Philipp Schuster on a few projects.
Choosing an influencer should be a careful process. You should consider whether they have an attitude that will mesh with your brand. Also, it’s best to approach influencers who genuinely enjoy your products. Their enthusiasm will make the collaboration seem more natural.
Don’t just pick influencers because they have a large following. Go with ones who will complement the brand and bring innovative ideas to the table. If you need further help, here are some tips on making connections with the right influencers.
10. Make video content
Instagram wasn’t initially made for video content. When the feature was first introduced, there was a 15-second time limit. It wasn’t expanded to 60 seconds until last year.
Some brands are still hesitant about adopting videos as part of their Instagram marketing. For them, photos feel like the safer option, as it seems to have the most built-in support.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of Red Bull’s posts are videos. It’s the format that seems best suited for their action-packed content.
Since Red Bull has 7.8 million followers and hundreds of thousands of views per post, they must be doing something right. Be bold and experiment. It might pay off for you too.