We all know the brands. They’re cool, they’re fun, and they never run out of ideas for creative Instagram content.

The truth is that not every brand has a “gram-powerful” product or service as easily as a company like Airbnb and an endless supply of amazing user-generated travel photos. But that doesn’t mean a security company or bank can’t create engaging content that their customers love.

I spent some time searching for unexpectedly great Instagram accounts and found some really great content. Read on to find out:

  • Real strategies that work from brands on all budgets
  • The type of content any business can post for maximum Instagram engagement
  • A simple technique a flour company uses to gain followers

1. King Arthur Flour

You wouldn’t expect a flour company to have more than 190,000 Instagram followers, but King Arthur Flour’s social media team knows what they’re doing.

Not only are the photos of the delicious baked goods mouthwatering, but many of them are provided by King Arthur Flour customers themselves.

The brand’s Instagram bio encourages viewers to tag their cooking images with the hashtag #kingarthurflour for a chance to feature on the brand’s page.

Using a branded hashtag is an effective way to select user-generated content when building brand awareness. To do this for your brand:

  • Create a hashtag that embodies your brand (not necessarily your company’s name).
  • Include a line in your bio that encourages your audience to use the hashtag in their related content.
  • Repost the best posted content and highlight the fact you discovered it with the hashtag.
  • Make sure to use the hashtag in your own Instagram posts.

2. Dictionary.com

There are at least 143,000 Instagram users smarter than you. At least, that’s how many people follow Dictionary.com’s account for the word of the day.

The popular vocabulary site has a simple yet effective approach to its Instagram account. Every day they publish a word and its definition on a brightly colored background.

While this exact format isn’t true for every brand, there are important takeaways that can apply to most businesses’ Instagram accounts:

  • Use text in posts. Whether you’re sharing an inspirational quote or an advice, transform your Instagram content by adding posts that use text. If you’re looking for new tools to help you design visual content for Instagram, Moyens I/O integrates directly into Adobe’s Creative suite.
  • Share educational content. It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t want to be smarter. Make it a habit to post valuable content like Dictionary.com that increases your audience’s knowledge of a particular topic.
  • Work with the format. Instagram was created for fast and easily digestible content. Don’t try to include feature films or long paragraphs of text in your posts because you likely won’t be able to grab your audience’s attention.
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3.3 million

If you hear the name 3M and immediately think of tape, it’s time to take a look at their Instagram account.

3M is a leader in industries “from healthcare to highway safety, office products, abrasives and adhesives.” In other words, they are much more than tape.

Instagram feeds are a handpicked mix of fascinating science and technology posts, along with more lifestyle-focused content.

Here’s how you can challenge expectations like 3M:

  • Carefully curate content. Give your audience an interesting mix. For example, if you are a furniture company, you might mix beautiful interior design photos with content showing how a sofa is made.
  • Emphasize what defines your brand. 3M is all about innovation and science, and they’re constantly finding new ways to feature both in their content. Find out what makes your brand unique and consider different ways to highlight these qualities.
  • Standing behind relevant social justice issues. 3M shares numerous posts featuring their diverse cultures and commitment to equality and inclusion. While I wouldn’t recommend connecting your brand to every social issue, promoting the issues you truly care about and practice is a great way to differentiate your business.

4. Trader Joe’s

How exciting can a grocery store’s Instagram account be? Just take a look at Trader Joe’s page to find out.

Usually the brands immortality Fill their Instagram feed with images that only show their products, but that’s exactly what the quirky American grocer does.

This often makes for a boring account, but Trader Joe’s does it creatively and engages their audience of over 234,000 followers.

Make your product or brand the star of your Instagram:

  • Focus on lifestyle. Show your followers how your product will fit into their life or the life they want. For Trader Joe’s, that means sharing elaborate charcuterie boards that use their produce, romantic tables with their wines, and healthy breakfasts fit for world-class athletes.
  • Get to know your audience. You need to know who your target audience is and what motivates them to engage with them. For example, Trader Joe’s knows they reach out to many busy parents, so they create content that showcases the little luxuries that this audience can easily achieve (like a glass of nonstop wine).
  • Mix format. While their Instagram page is full of beautiful photos, Trader Joe’s also features fun videos, clever illustrations, and slideshows. Don’t be afraid to mix up your Instagram account with a variety of formats, as long as your overall aesthetic stays on brand.
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5. Sniper

Sharpie is a big brand with a small product and their Instagram accounts are brought to life by their staff and pen fans with incredible creations. Like King Arthur Flour, Sharpie encourages its audiences to share relevant posts with the branded #StartSomething hashtags.

With this hashtag, Sharpie can find and share interesting content made with their products. For example, writing artist Adam Vicarel designed a denim jacket with Sharpie pens and pencils. She accompanied her jacket post with a story about her struggle to become a professional artist, and Sharpie managed to share her story.

How can your brand follow Sharpie’s steps to create engaging content?

  • Share a story. Think about the story your brand is telling. Sharpie’s story is a story of limitless creativity and they share it through their artistic posts and user-generated content. Your customers are an endless source of powerful narratives, you just need to know how to tell them.
  • Inspire others to use your product or service. Showcase the possibilities of your product and encourage your audience to think outside the box. Sharpie includes clothing, shoes, and unconventional canvases for her pens.

6. TSA

Just mentioning the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) might make you sit up straighter. But this traditionally no-nonsense organization uses Instagram to show off the lighter side of their business.

While any security-related organization has an air of top secrecy, the TSA pulls back the curtain with its friendly, behind-the-scenes content.

Alongside witty Q&A posts, TSA shares other snapshots of confiscated items, interesting (and allowed) luggage, and their day-to-day experiences at work.

If your organization’s Instagram content can use more personality, consider these questions:

  • What makes your brand unique? The TSA deals with countless travelers (and their interesting luggage) every day – a goldmine for content.
  • Is there an interior part of your business that you want others to see? While I wouldn’t recommend this approach if you’re a butcher, behind-the-scenes content from many organizations is making great Instagram fodder.
  • Who are your employees? The TSA often shows its own employees on the account, which helps bring a personal touch to a giant organization. Think about your employees and their stories and consider sharing them regularly.

As Henry van Dyke once said, “If only the best birds sang, the forest would be quiet.” Even if your brand isn’t usually classified as fun or exciting, there’s no limit to creating engaging Instagram content for your customers.

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Moyens I/O. You can schedule photos and post directly to Instagram, interact with your audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles from a single dashboard. Try it for free today.

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