StrategyBrand awarenessTen examples of how brands stand out on Instagram

Ten examples of how brands stand out on Instagram

Instagram's one of the most popular social platforms. Ten creative ways how brands like Casper, Starbucks, Sprout Social, NatGeo, and Mailchimp stand out.

Instagram is currently one of the most popular social media platforms. It offers many different ways for brands to stand out. It’s not easy though for a marketer to be creative 24/7. What if you run out of Instagram post ideas?

The increasing competition on Instagram is making it harder to produce unique content. That’s why it’s useful to find inspiration from others before planning your upcoming content.

Before you start searching “what to post on Instagram“, here are ten creative ways that other brands stand out on Instagram based on recent trends and successful posts.

1. Misha Nonoo: Build Instagram themes

Your creativity on Instagram shouldn’t be limited to just one post. Thematic posts can help you tell a story or focus on a bigger theme through a series of posts.

You can create a series of posts as part of a campaign to highlight your message or you can even focus on storytelling to go beyond the sales pitch.

Authentic stories can make your brand stand out with their unique content.

Instagram themes are popular for the link between the content and the visual appeal. You must have noticed the accounts that coordinate the colors or the borders from one post to another. The consistency makes the posts more appealing and increases the chances of engaging new followers.

This is an example from Misha Nonoo. They’ve shared more than 180 photos to create a bigger story. They were even asking their followers to turn their devices horizontally so that they can see the full picture. This is a very clever way to encourage your followers to keep scrolling so that they can see how the story evolves. Even if you’re not directly interested in their content, it still manages to grab your attention.

Example of Misha Nonoo's Instagram posting

2. Canva: Share interactive Stories

There are more than 500 million active Stories users every month on Instagram. Stories make a very engaging format and they allow your brand to try out more creative Instagram posts.

There are many opportunities to create interactive Stories on Instagram to encourage your followers to engage with your content.

For example, you can ask a question, you can create a quiz or even a poll.

What’s good with stories is that you can experiment with more casual Instagram post ideas.

Canva wanted to engage their followers so they created a quick to test their “design eye”.

This was a smart way to stay relevant while also encouraging your followers to feel more creative.

Example of Canva's Instagram posting

3. HelloFresh: Focus on genuine engagement

Instagram wants us to stop any techniques that focus on ‘engagement bait’. The algorithm is rewarding posts that see a genuine level of engagement without necessarily begging for it.

A good way to try out more engaging Instagram post ideas is to allow space to your strategy for more frequent interactions with your followers.

Whether it’s a feed post or a story, questions can make your Instagram presence more engaging.

Example of HelloFresh's Instagram question based posts

4. Gap: Include product tags to improve conversion

Instagram has added many useful features for ecommerce over the past year. One of the best ways to promote your brand’s products is to include tags in the posts that feature them.

You don’t just tag people on Instagram nowadays but you can also use product tags that direct you straight to the check out page.

This way you can maintain your visual appeal while focusing on improving your conversion rate.

Your followers can turn into your best customers and your brand can use Instagram equally for brand awareness and sales conversions.

Gap is frequently adding tags to their Instagram posts to create a balance between brand awareness and product promotion.

Example of Gap's Instagram posts that balance between brand awareness and product promotion

5. Starbucks: Involve your fans with user-generated content

The next time you’re looking for Instagram content ideas remember that your followers can make an impressively creative hub for your brand.

Instagram can help you build a community around your fans with user-generated content that is based on your product or a specific theme.

It’s a great way to come up with new content ideas while strengthening the relationship with your followers who feel part of your brand.

A recent trend is to share tweets in your Instagram posts in a more creative way. Many brands have shared such posts and Starbucks has decided to blend product promotion with user-generated content.

This is a very creative way to involve your fans and get their tweets to show up in your Instagram feed while maintaining your creative appeal.

Example of Starbucks' Instagram posts that include user-generated content

6. Burger King: Experiment with gamification

Everyone loves a good case of gamification in content. People enjoy spending time on something that’s different from other Instagram posts and brands can see an increase in engagement and attention when trying out more interactive ideas.

Burger King showcased last year an excellent way to include gamification in their Instagram presence to make their content viral.

“Stories Ordering” allowed people to customize their orders through stories and they could ultimately get a free voucher to enjoy their burger. The results were impressive and the creative idea reminded us of the importance of thinking outside the box to succeed on social media.

How Burger King’s “Stories Ordering” campaign succeeded

7. SproutSocial: Go behind the scenes

Your Instagram content ideas shouldn’t look too good to be true. Authentic posts that offer a “behind the scenes” experience can improve the trust between your followers and your brand.

It is also making it easier for your followers to see the faces behind the brand or even the process of building a product or preparing an event.

Example of SproutSocial's "behind the scenes" Instagram posts

8. Mailchimp: Showcase your brand’s personality

One of the most creative ideas for Instagram posts is to build your own personality to stand out with your content. The focus of your posts can be your own brand without a direct promotion of your services.

Mailchimp is a great example of a creative Instagram presence. Their posts have good designs, they can be funny and smart, and they can still promote their product in a more discreet way.

Example of how Mailchimp showcases its brand personality through Instagram posts

9. Casper: Make swiping appealing with multiple images

Sharing multiple images in a post can help you tell a story from one photo to another.

You can use a carousel post to promote your product, to highlight your work as part of a specific campaign or even to engage with your followers in a fun post.

This is an example from Casper and the idea to share multiple images to stand out with your content.

What we can learn from it is that your Instagram post ideas don’t have to be too complicated to perform well. Sometimes simplicity along with witty content can lead to high engagement.

Example of Casper's multiple image posts on Instagram

10. NatGeo: Try out long-form content

Instagram can be a visual social media platform but you don’t need to focus only on its visual aspect to stand out.

An image may be worth a thousand words but imagine if you can make your posts even more powerful with the right text.

Long-form captions can help you add more context to your images and videos and many brands use them for authentic storytelling or important announcements.

National Geographic has one of the most popular Instagram accounts. Their photography is very impressive but they also tend to share longer captions to tell interesting stories.

People connect with a story at a deeper level once they see a powerful image accompanied by additional details. It can be a very engaging strategy for your Instagram presence to focus on longer content that puts your work and your projects on the spotlight in the most inspiring way.

There’s no need to create long captions in every single post so make sure you find a balance between your Instagram posts.

Example of how Nat Geo pairs good photography with long captions to convey stories


There is always a new opportunity to be more creative on Instagram. The visual appeal of this channel can push us to try out new ideas.

Whether you’re using Instagram for brand awareness, community building or conversions, the suggested post ideas can help you improve your success.

As Instagram’s algorithm is evolving, it’s useful to maintain visual quality while experimenting with new creative ideas. Asking for likes and using “engagement bait” won’t work well anymore but creating content that makes the engagement effortless and natural can be the secret to success when thinking of creative ways to post on Instagram.

After all, people expect from brands to push their limits when it comes to creativity and Instagram can be the perfect outlet to do this.

What’s your favorite way to be more creative? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.


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