Universal Marketing Lessons From the Best Brands on Instagram

10.15.2015 Sara Brasfield

Is your small business using Instagram as a marketing tool yet?

This visual social media platform has grown steadily since its launch in 2010. In fact, by 2019 over one-third of the U.S. population (more than 111.6 million people) is expected to use Instagram.  And since large national brands don’t yet dominate Instagram, there’s room for small, local businesses to make their mark. 

While some of the examples below are from larger, national brands, businesses of all sizes can learn from and implement their strategies. 

COMPANY 1: Mahi Gold Outfitters


This preppy, all-American clothing company is based in Massachusetts, and its Instagram feed reflects that East Coast lifestyle perfectly. It’s a mix of Cape Cod beach scenes, people having fun outdoors (in Mahi Gold clothing, of course), retail interiors and close-ups of the clothing. You can almost smell the salt air and feel the sand between your toes. Seeing the photos makes you want to live the lifestyle (and buy the products).

Lesson: Every brand has a visual story to tell. Turn a creative eye to your store, surroundings and employees, and you’ll find plenty of images that convey your brand’s story. 

COMPANY 2: Interinvestments Realty


This South Florida real estate company specializes in high-end properties, and its Instagram feed highlights the gorgeous locations and makes good use of video. How better to showcase a waterfront home than with a 360-degree, bird’s-eye shot that features everything from the spectacular beach view to the inviting swimming pool before diving inside for a closer look at the house? 

Lesson: Does your brand have more to say than one photo can convey? Post videos of up to 15 seconds, or edit photos together into a video using apps such as Magisto, Animoto or Picovico

COMPANY 3: Camp Brand Goods

#KeepItWild     #CampBrandGoods


This outdoor clothing retailer has earned over 110,000 followers with beautiful nature photography and judicious use of hashtags. Uncluttered scenery demands uncluttered captions; Camp Brand Goods sticks to #campbrandgoods and #keepitwild in every post. 

Lesson: Join the hashtag conversation. Engagement on Instagram (2.81% of the audience per post) is much higher than on Facebook (0.25%) or Twitter (0.2%). Using hashtags drives engagement by categorizing your content so it’s easier for non-followers to discover. Instagram recommends limiting it to three hashtags so they don’t detract from your post.

COMPANY 4: BirchBox

#ManiMonday                                                                          #TBT                                                                   #NationalCoffeeDay


Subscription cosmetics company BirchBox effectively taps into one of Instagram’s most popular themes, Throwback Thursday, to gently mock beauty trends of the past while referencing current trends and products (check out this flashback to the Hairigami). Birchbox joins a bigger conversation with other popular hashtags relating to real-time events such as National Coffee Day, and even created their own brand-related #ManiMonday hashtag to engage their customers.

Lesson: Take part in popular events such as Throwback Thursday, or create your own branded events (like Mocha Monday for a coffeehouse, and post photos of elaborate creations). Theme days really boost customer engagement because people love to share their own theme photos.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than seven years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the (now virtual!) office, Sara loves spending time running, reading and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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