15 Most Creative Instagram Marketing Campaigns of 2017

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This year Instagram reached a new milestone. There are now 800 million users who are active on a monthly basis. Instagram will soon have a user base as large as its parent company, Facebook.

It’s no wonder that so many businesses are trying to establish themselves on the platform. However, a number are finding that it isn’t as easy as they’d anticipated.

Learning from the best is often an effective way to get ahead. Here are 15 of the most inventive Instagram marketing campaigns of 2017.

1. Airbnb

Most brands avoid making political statements on social media. It’s always a risky prospect, especially since it might alienate some customers. Nobody wants to set off a major backlash against the company.

However, there are times where taking a stand is necessary.

Acceptance starts with all of us. #WeAccept

A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb) on

With their “We Accept” campaign, Airbnb sent a clear message: they accept anybody, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or beliefs. It was an important statement to make, given the recent debates about immigration in the United States.

Under the #WeAccept hashtag, Airbnb featured the faces and stories of people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Many customers appreciate it when businesses demonstrate social responsibility. It shows a strong sense of ethics and morals, which too many companies seem to lack these days.

2. Tarte Cosmetics

Influencers are a vital part of the Instagram ecosystem. They are popular and trusted members of their communities, whose opinions are valued for their honesty. Receiving an endorsement from an influencer is a mark of quality for any brand.

So what’s better than working with one influencer? Working with a whole bunch of them, obviously.

Throughout the year, Tarte Cosmetics has been hosting tropical getaways for groups of influencers. These trips have included destinations in Australia, the Florida Keys and the Maldives.

It turns out that bringing together a gaggle of makeup gurus and vloggers in a scenic location is a recipe for tons of amazing pictures and videos. #TrippinWithTarte is a campaign with content that runs across Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and other networks.

3. Glossier

Different brands have their own tactics when it comes to influencer marketing. Some like to go big and place all their chips on certain major figures. Others spread the love among many “micro-influencers.”

Glossier is a brand that opts for the latter. They’ve said that they consider “every single woman” an influencer.

The biggest benefit to this strategy is that it results in a much higher engagement rate. The more niche an influencer, the more closely connected the audience tends to be. This translates to more viewers directly interacting with their content.

So remember that follower count isn’t everything. Giving average, everyday people a chance to be an influencer can pay off too.

4. Adidas

Adidas is one of the biggest brands on the platform. They currently have 16.8 million followers on their regular account and 22.5 million on their Originals account.

While Adidas has been a widely recognized brand for decades, they certainly haven’t coasted with their Instagram content. Take a look at their #HereToCreate campaign, for instance.

Focusing on athletes from around the globe, Adidas makes short videos about their passion and unique approach to sports. These shorts are filled with striking visuals and energetic editing. They’re some of the most exciting examples of what you can do with Instagram’s video features.

5. Lynx / Axe

Not every post needs to be about the brand. It’s called “social media” for a reason. Don’t be afraid to turn things around and let your audience have the spotlight. They will appreciate the acknowledgment.

One way to do this is to answer viewers’ questions. Lynx (also known as Axe here in North America) decided to do just that with their campaign #isitokayforguys.

Followers were encouraged to use the hashtag to ask anything they wanted about masculinity. Submissions ranged from the silly to the serious, as many men inquired about “acceptable” gender behavior. Answers were provided by celebrities such as boxer Anthony Joshua and actor Josh Peck.

The central idea of this campaign was that masculinity comes in all forms, and that there isn’t a “correct” way to be a man. It was a positive, self-affirming stance that earned the brand respect for its progressive outlook.

6. Chef Nusret Gökçe

Sometimes a marketing campaign doesn’t intentionally start off as one.

At the beginning of this year, a Turkish chef named Nusret Gökçe uploaded a video of himself on Instagram. It featured him chopping up a steak and then stylishly adding a dash of salt at the end.

Ottoman steak 🔪

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et) on

Within hours the video became a viral sensation. Gökçe was dubbed “Salt Bae” by internet users, and the image of him tossing salt proved ripe material for an endless torrent of meme material. His video now has over 15 million views.

Gökçe used his newfound celebrity to build a brand and expand his business’s operations. He has even announced plans to open a new restaurant in London.

What can be learned here? If something takes off unexpectedly, embrace it and go along for the ride.

7. DJI

In some cases, your products can lend themselves particularly well to Instagram.

DJI specializes in drone technology and high-quality aerial cameras. This means that their products produce striking videos and images.

All of their posts show off the capabilities of their drones and cameras. Not only does it make for compelling visual content on its own terms; it also functions as a sales pitch.

The video above was created for the launch of their new Zenmuse X7 camera. It showcases footage captured with the camera, as well as its technical specs and glimpses of it in action.

8. Ryu

You know what everybody loves? Contests and giveaways. Few people can resist the offer of free stuff.

For the #WhatsInYourBag campaign, athletic clothing brand Ryu asked their followers to share a peek inside their gym bags. All participants had to do was include the hashtag in the captions of their post. In exchange, they were given a chance to win a prize kit.

Ryu promoted the giveaway on their main feed, and on Instagram Stories as well. The latter helped put it at the top of people’s feeds and reach more users.

9. NASA

Instagram introduced its Stories feature just over a year ago. It was designed as a rival to Snapchat, and in many ways has surpassed its competition.

Brands immediately started utilizing Stories to expand their marketing arsenal. NASA serves as a prime model of how to do so.

With their Stories, NASA offers viewers incredible images, and also provides the context behind them. It’s both aesthetically pleasing and educational.

Their Stories also tend to have original content, rather than reusing what they’ve already posted in their feed. This gives viewers the incentive to check them out while they can.

11. Adobe

A brand’s logo is an essential part of its identity. A good logo is iconic and recognizable; something that a customer associates with their feelings about a company.

But what if you let others do their own spin on it?

That’s the concept behind the #AdobeRemix campaign, in which Adobe invites artists to give their logo a makeover.

These interpretations are bursting with imagination and creativity, which are qualities that attract Instagram users.

11. Samsung

Instagram is a network driven by visual content. The most successful campaigns tend to take full advantage of that.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 boasts ultrathin bezels on the sides of its screen. To highlight this feature, they created photos where the images within the phone lined up with its surrounding environment. This called attention to just how slim the bezels were.

The Infinity Display makes it hard to tell where your phone ends and the world begins. #GalaxyS8 #UnboxYourPhone

A post shared by Samsung Mobile (@samsungmobile) on

Campaigns like #UnboxYourPhone show how to feature your products in imaginative and eye-catching ways that suit the platform.

12. Nike Women

Advertisements that make an appeal to emotion are often the most affecting type of marketing. A customer’s admiration can be gained if you manage to stir and inspire them.

For their “Believe in More” campaign, Nike chose to focus on the accomplishments of Arab women who are pioneers in their respective fields.

The focus of this campaign was on empowering its subjects and encouraging others like them. The tactic resonated in our current social climate.

One of the greatest things that anybody can do with their visibility is give a platform to the marginalized, to those who are constantly left voiceless and overlooked.

13. Nintendo

Nintendo is a powerhouse in the video-game industry. They were one of the most influential companies in its earliest formative years, and have endured to this day due to their dedication to innovation.

The Switch, their latest console, was one of the most anticipated systems in recent history.

One Week… Are you ready? #NintendoSwitch #12Switch

A post shared by Nintendo of America (@nintendo) on

In the weeks leading up to its release, Nintendo teased its followers with reminders of its impending launch date. Their fans could hardly contain their excitement in the comments.

Tick tock tick tock! #nintendoswitch

A post shared by Nintendo of America (@nintendo) on

Instagram is a perfect place to build hype for upcoming products. You can turn each day into a countdown, revealing just enough to make people want to see more.

14. Fashion Nova

In contrast to Glossier, Fashion Nova is a brand that banks on big, recognizable names in addition to the smaller ones.

Their most notable collaboration was with Kylie Jenner at the end of last year. Jenner is currently the 8th most followed user on Instagram. She managed to score over 2.6 million likes with a single post promoting the brand’s jeans.

#ad Obsessed with my new @fashionnova jeans 🍑Get them at FashionNova.com 😍

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Fashion Nova has continued this approach throughout this year. One of their ongoing influencer relationships has been with hip-hop superstar Cardi B. Her enthusiasm for the brand is evident and infectious.

Cardi B loves her @fashionnova🤗Follow & Shop @fashionnova for all the HOTTEST new styles🔥

A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on

15. Disney

Want to shake things up a bit? Try hosting an Instagram takeover.

A takeover involves giving your account to a guest for a limited period of time. This can be beneficial for both parties. It encourages each account’s audience to follow the other.

Earlier this year, Disney let actor Luke Evans take over their account to promote their remake of Beauty and the Beast. He proceeded to post behind-the-scenes photos from the red carpet premiere of the film. It gave fans a chance to view something they rarely get to see.

A change of perspective might be just what you need to freshen up your content.

About the author

Neal Hallenbeck

Neal Hallenbeck is a graduate of Adrian College. He is a freelance writer, media critic and computer game designer.

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