2020 marked 10-years of Instagram, but that isn’t the only reason it was a huge year for the platform. Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing site into a powerful social and commerce network that spent its 10th year introducing several new features to engage users and brands alike.
While Instagram is no longer the new kid on the block (they first hit 1 billion users in September of 2018), the platform still saw significant growth in 2020. Instagram users spent an average of 30 minutes per day on the platform last year – that’s an increase of 13.8% over 2019. Instagram also has the 4th-most users of any mobile app, with 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day and 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month.
As we move into 2021, brands will need to continually assess and adjust their Instagram strategies to stand out. But what does it mean to be one of the best brands on Instagram in 2021? Read on for a look at 15 of the best company Instagram accounts:
@takearecess / 77.3k followers
One of 2020’s best company Instagram accounts was a relatively new one – sparkling water company Recess. But Recess is so much more than a water brand. As their Instagram bio claims – “Recess is an antidote to modern times. Sparkling water for calm and focus. We canned a feeling.”
And in a year with so much stress and turmoil, it’s no wonder Recess has found their audience by focusing their attention on creating content that engages, entertains, and distracts from everyday life. While beverage brands are some of the biggest spenders on advertising – Recess has chosen to take a completely organic approach.
“I look at our Instagram strategy as a social commentary on the Millennial existence… We’re speaking to the issues that we’re all going through that lead to stress and anxiety in a very unique, Recess way.” – Recess Founder Benjamin Witte
The brand uses its organic Instagram to drive its audience to subscribe to a weekly, content-driven newsletter that currently boasts a 25% open rate. That’s compared to the industry average of just 14.5%.
@teva / 539K followers
Teva created the sport sandal category in 1984 – with many millennials remembering the brand as the ‘dad-sandal’ of their youth. However, over the past few years, millennials (and other generations alike) have embraced the sporty, casual sandal as not just practical – but also a fashion statement. On Instagram, the company uses a mix of professional photography and user-generated content (UGC) submitted by Teva-wearing fans using the hashtag #strapinfreedom.
For companies in the fashion and beauty industry, it’s important for customers to be able to see themselves in the product and Teva delivers. Teva displays its diverse customer base to really communicate the message that Teva sandals are for everyone – making them one of the best brand Instagram accounts.
@drinkhaus / 32.3k followers
Direct-to-consumer alcohol brands had their moment in 2020 when, thanks to the pandemic, many liquor stores were closed and people were forced to stay home. Haus, known for their artisanal aperitifs, was well-positioned to take advantage of increased demand thanks to their social media strategy.
Early in the pandemic, Haus shifted its focus from self-promotion to The Restaurant Project – where the brand partnered with different restaurants, working with chefs to co-create specific aperitifs for each restaurant. The bottles were sold online, with 100% of profits supporting their restaurant partners. This type of campaign worked because it allowed their customers to feel good about supporting their favorite restaurants during a difficult time.
This type of customer-focused social strategy (paired with an investment from Shopify Capital) has helped to increase the return on ad spend by 250% as of April. Haus’s overall business has grown 500% since January.
#4 Girls Night In Club
@girlsnightinclub / 134K followers
Girls Night In is a lifestyle brand and community that helps busy young women make the most of their weekend downtime by recommending the best in culture, lifestyle, and self-care. GNI launched in 2018 and within a year the newsletter-based business boasted an unheard of 50% open rate among their 150K subscribers.
This early success made GNI a hit at a time when staying in became a lifestyle for everyone. The Girls Night In Instagram focused on sharing the type of content they knew best: how to make the most of downtime during the pandemic. This type of Instagram content served as a funnel to further grow the brand’s email list – allowing them the influence to launch a brand of ‘staying in’ focused products, Whiled, in late 2020.
#5 Bala Bangles
@Bala / 90.3K followers
Bala launched their line of stylish wrist and ankle weights in 2017 and shortly after gained recognition for their deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank. The brand’s Instagram account doesn’t look like most of the content within the fitness industry. They take an artistic approach with photography and videos that is thumb-stopping, inspiring, and has helped catch the eye of major media outlets and large retail partners.
When the pandemic, and the need for at-home workout equipment, emerged, Bala had not invested in any paid marketing channels. The sharp increase in demand created inventory challenges but Bala continued to engage their audience with Instagram Live workout videos that could be completed with or without their products. This positioned Bala to take preorders all the while building their community.
@madewell / 1.4 Million followers
Madewell was created for the modern city girl with a chic, tomboyish style. This specific demographic focus makes it the perfect brand for Instagram, where 510 million women and 67% of 18- to 29-year-olds spend time each day.
Madewell’s visual content reinforces this demographic focus by tapping into the lifestyle this demographic is now leading. While the brand was originally known primarily as a denim brand, they have adjusted their approach to include more loungewear and home adjacent content in 2020. Regardless of its product mix, the brand continues to present a very clear, shoppable virtual storefront through its images and video. Posts frequently feature the shopping icon, with multiple products tagged in each image (see the example to the right).
#8 Tiffany & Co
@tiffanyandco / 11.8m followers
Tiffany & Co. is a great example of how a heritage brand can use Instagram to evolve its appearance and reach a new customer base. The brand leans into its signature ‘Tiffany Blue’ to create consistency and strong brand association – while allowing freedom to experiment with fresh creative. In an industry that’s all about luxury, Tiffany infuses fun and playfulness with modern marketing tactics such as their Instagram Live series.
The result is an Instagram grid that instantly identifies as Tiffany but moves the audience deeper into the world of the brand through storytelling and modern visuals. This approach to content has made Tiffany & Co’s posts generate 11 times more interactions than the average watch & jewelry brand.
@away / 537K followers
While most luggage brands focus on product features in their marketing, Away has grown out of their desire to shift this conversation. Instead, they use their Instagram to talk about the experiences that a suitcase can enable.
Let’s face it – 2020 wasn’t a great year for travel experiences. But Away continued to engage their audience of travel enthusiasts by embracing themes of wanderlust and a bit of good, old-fashioned humor at the current state of the travel industry. Away’s ‘At Home’ Instagram Stories featured dream itineraries, recommendations for travel-themed movies, and alternative uses for luggage.
Despite the setbacks of the past year, their Instagram profile continues to keep travel (and the Away brand) top of mind for their audience – inspiring them to think about everything they could do with a suitcase and positioning the company as more of a travel brand than a luggage one. After all, travel enthusiasts didn’t stop loving travel this year. If anything, they learned to appreciate the freedom to visit new places even more.
@glossier / 2.7 million followers
Glossier is a beauty brand that, from its beginning, has distanced itself from the typical polished luxury of other brands in the industry. This is exemplified on Glossier’s Instagram, where posts feel humanistic and down-to-earth. Their approach to content makes it feel more like users are following a friend rather than a brand; with frequent memes and customer messages.
Instead of starting with a product and trying to build a community around it, Glossier started with a community first and created a product to reflect its needs. Glossier’s products, with millennial pink packaging, are designed to be shared on Instagram. This strategic decision made it easier to tap into the platform’s community of beauty enthusiasts, turning them into brand ambassadors. Glossier frequently reposts user-generated content, giving fans more incentive to share and driving overall community engagement.
#11 So Worth Loving
@soworthloving / 73.6k followers
So Worth Loving is a clothing and accessory brand that was created to promote self-love and worthiness. Their Instagram is a platform for reinforcing its mission, spreading positive thoughts, and promoting its line of products. To strike the balance between mission and promotion, So Worth Loving frequently posts quote style graphics in between product-oriented images.
In 2020, content on self-worth, positive thoughts, and diversity was almost ever-present on Instagram – but So Worth Loving’s comes off as authentic and sincere thanks to their clear brand mission.
They also embody their mission by investing heavily in community management. Despite their nearly 75,000 followers, they respond to each comment and communicate with their audience regularly. The result is a fan base that feels acknowledged and engaged.
@beardbrand / 179K followers
Beardbrand is a line of high-quality grooming products with a very niche audience: urban men with beards. Their mission is to “change the way society views beardsmen,” using Instagram as a vehicle for creating and sharing the sophisticated lifestyle of their target market.
Beardbrand’s visual content combines professional model images with styled product shots in a way that not only appeals to their audience but also elevates the idea of men’s grooming in general. They use Instagram to build brand awareness and discovery, and then work to convert followers into email subscribers. Beardbrand frequently promotes the exclusive content available via their newsletter, which is a key tactic for driving brand sales (helping them to grow to monthly revenues of $100,000 in 2020).
@chubbies / 521K followers
Another brand that’s excellent at engaging men on Instagram is Chubbies. While Beardbrand inspires a more aspirational approach to lifestyle content, Chubbies embraces diversity and authenticity in their content creation.
They launched in 2012 as a response to the lack of swimwear options that the founders could identify with. Since then, the brand has grown around the idea of treating their customers like friends. They use humor on their Instagram account to engage their target audience of 18-40-year-old males and use real customers as models in marketing campaigns.
This relatable approach to content has helped Chubbies grow to 3.5 million subscribers without any use of traditional media to spread the brand’s message.
@gopro / 17.6 million followers
GoPro uses their Instagram to tell stories from the product’s unique point of view. Full of pictures and videos that were taken using GoPro’s cameras by actual customers, the feed is a source of inspiration and aspirational content. The brand’s goal with its Instagram is to use that content to drive consideration for how you could use their unique camera in your life, ultimately leading to purchase.
GoPro has expanded the amount of content they share by opening regional handles featuring localized content and customers in over 10 markets. This decision resulted in growing their total follower base to nearly 15 million.
@chambordchannel / 7,000 followers
The food and drink category is a very crowded space on Instagram (#foodporn). As a niche liquor brand without a media budget, Chambord relies on organic tactics and fresh creative to break through the clutter.
The brand used data and insights to focus their content where their audience was most engaged: drink recipes, images of cocktails, and the Chambord bottle. While their content is primarily aimed at educating the audience on how to use their product, their colorful, highly stylized grid does so in a way that feels fun and whimsical.
Chambord successfully reignited their brand in 2017 with a creative strategy that led to a Shorty Award, positive brand sentiment growth of 53%, and a 25% increase in followers. In 2020, they seemed poised to continue that growth by appointing Southpaw as their global strategic creative agency.
How will your brand’s Instagram stand out from the (increasingly crowded) pack of best brand Instagram accounts in 2021? We hope these fifteen best brands on Instagram have provided some inspiration for you to identify new ways to increase creativity, build community, and get your content seen on this critical platform.
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