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How Brands are Effectively Using Instagram To Push Sales

While some people can’t bear the thought of whipping out a selfie stick while out in public, a significant amount of online users seem to live for followers and filters. When considering these two concepts, one name comes to mind – Instagram. Let’s start with the simple statistics. According to DMR, this leading social network tool enjoys 300 million users, which make up 20% of the total number of online users use the service!

These figures may be impressive, but what truly stands out about Instagram is that there is a segment that is not just looking to ‘heart’ and share photos, but rather interested in both learning more about new products from their favorite brands as well as locating new ones.  This segment is often hungry for new posts, news and updates. For brand marketers, this can have immense impact on our social media strategies, especially if this type of engagement can contribute to an improved company reputation and sales conversions.

Measuring Impact

First thing first – Instagram campaign strategies must be able to clearly reveal growth potential in order to become a go-to marketing strategy for brands. In terms of customer engagement, this is already quite clear. According to Sprout Social, “Instagram posts… generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That means the app delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.” To better understand the ROI of the latter, it will help to examine three brands of different sizes actively using Instagram to reach out to their potential and current consumer base and driving home sales.  This breakdown will include the brand as well as a particular strategy used to maximize the Instagram experience – this should also help provide content marketers with actionable strategies to effectively use this widely popular photo-editing and sharing tool to market their content amongst ‘hungry’ buyers.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese – Using Food Visuals to Expand Usage of Product 

When we think of Philadelphia, most conjure up images of either Benjamin Franklin or a  perfect bagel filled with top of the line cream cheese. However, when looking to improve sales, the Australian branch of the brand decided they needed to effectively market their product as a go-to option for all foodies and contexts, not just that typical bagel you may find on a lazy Sunday morning or at a corporate event.  According to Digital Training Academy, using Instagram and a particular ‘Philly Pourover’ hashtag combined with specific summer and event themes, they were able to effectively capture the attention of foodie followers and realized impressive growth figures (41% sales uplift) as a result of this campaign:

Phillyaus Instagram campaign
Phillyaus Instagram campaign

New Balance – Partnering with Celebrities and Tying it To E-commerce

Even if you have the best writing staff available, not many marketers have the power to individually bring customers to the point of sale.  While they are very powerful, visuals also have their respective limitations. With this in mind, a brand’s quality social media strategy should look for creative strategies to engage customers directly in the buying process. What better way to do this than to directly expand our potential to reach users as well as involve them in the buying process? Instagram offers this in the form of partnering with leading companies and celebrities as well as giving the ability for those brands to determine a specific hashtag for their campaigns.

Not many companies have understood this point better than New Balance. Their campaign with Heidi Klum is a model for how a brand can effectively attract users using this strategy. Their hashtag of #HKNB is a partnership aimed at presenting customers with New Balance’s new line in collaboration with the supermodel. Using this campaign, they directly exposed Heidi’s followers’ base to New Balance’s new line as well as directly placed hashtag users in a position to bring their followers to the point of sale, as customers were marketing their recent purchases. This type of strategy can be very effective as it magnifies the amount of Instagram users coming into contact with products and engages those customers directly in the buying experience.

According to, in terms of impact, the numbers speak for themselves: “In the 120 days following the campaign’s inception, over 6,000 Instagram photos were collected using #HKNB. By linking these images directly back to products available for purchase, New Balance was able to enhance their product presentation beyond what they normally encounter on an ecommerce site. The quality of these pictures was phenomenal, and fans who used #HKNB were able to experience a more authentic and connected New Balance community. This resulted in an impressive 39% conversion rate increase.”

Example of another leading brand partnering with a celebrity on Instagram:

Ben & Jerry’s – Effective Use of Ad Targeting for Relevant Customer Segments

One of the pioneering brand users of Instagram, this ice-cream company legend offers a great case study of effective ad targeting on Instagram in order to push sales. In a short 8-day campaign for their new flavor – Scotchy Scotch, B&J was able to reach a specific segment (users between 18 and 35 years old) that would form a highly relevant potential consumer base. This US-focused sponsored Instagram campaign generated quick results.  According to Fast Company, “They reached 9.8 million users in the process, saw a 33-point increase in ad recall, and alerted 17% of these users to their new flavor.”

Ben & Jerry’s Instagram Campaign

Time to Sum Up:

So for those that were unclear about the power of Instagram for effective social media ROI, we hope things are a bit clearer now and that you agree that “Instagram is more than a place for selfies and cat pictures”, but rather an exciting visual opportunity to get more engaged with your customers (and potential ones) and drive sales.