We all love following our favourite celebrities to get a glimpse into their glamorous lives. Thanks to platforms like Instagram, there are many features that enable celebs to promote their work, interact with fans, and showcase their personalities.
Some celebrities are better than others at using these features — and there is lots that brands can learn from them.
In this roundup, we’ve picked out eight celebrities who excel at things like creating Instagram Stories, making accessible social media content, and crafting a humorous brand voice.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
8 celebrities who are great at Instagram (and what brands can learn from them)
1) The Arkells: Instagram Live & fan interaction
When lockdowns first started last year and it seemed like every musician was doing Instagram Lives, there was one band that stood out: The Arkells.
For 58 straight days, Max Kerman (the lead singer) hosted an hour-long Instagram Live show called “Flatten The Curve Music Class”. Each day, Kerman would teach the chords to an Arkells song and invite both special guests and fans to join using Instagram’s “request to chat” feature. After each livestream, the Arkells uploaded the show as an IGTV video so past episodes could be re-watched.
The success of the #FTCMusicClass livestream came from its consistency (every day at the same hour), intimacy (a one-to-many format that felt like one-to-one), surprise-and-delight (unexpected famous guests), and exclusivity factors (a once-in-a-lifetime chance for fans to chat with their favourite singer).
What we can learn from them: Use Instagram Live not just as another channel to promote your brand’s content, but to teach something valuable, allow people to ask questions about your brand or products, or simply surprise-and-delight a fan. You can use the request-to-chat feature to invite both planned guests and normal fans.
2) Lewis Capaldi & Niall Horan: Instagram Stories & authenticity
Here’s a throwback: Remember One Direction? Part of what made them so popular was the level of access and personality they shared with fans through their videos and social media accounts.
Lucky for us, the 1D boys are applying what they learned to their solo careers. Niall Horan uses Instagram Stories to do AMAs (using the Stories question sticker), Instagram Lives (during which he replies to fans), impromptu performances, direct-to-camera chats, and highlight other musicians he’s listening to. This is how I discovered another great artist on social media: Lewis Capaldi.
Lewis Capaldi is a talented artist in his own right, but he’s also amazing at letting his personality shine on social media. He constantly posts Stories that feel like he’s speaking to his friends. They’re casual, imperfect, funny, and full of a swear here and there.
When Capaldi does use Stories to promote his music, they’re written with his signature self-deprecating humor so fans are still engaged and receptive to whatever he’s promoting.
Both artists do a good job of using the casual nature of Instagram Stories to showcase their personality, which makes them feel more authentic and thus beloved by their followers.
What we can learn from them: Lean into the casual nature of Instagram Stories. Humanize your brand and show off your brand’s personality by recording videos with people talking straight to camera and using question stickers to do AMA sessions.
3) Jennifer Lopez: Accessible hashtags and videos
I gotta hand it to JLo, she does a good job of using all of Instagram’s features to their fullest, including Stories, IGTV, Reels, and hashtags.
Although she does a lot of promotional posts, even the most commercial ones have short-and-snappy captions, proper tagging of sponsors and photographers, and eye-catching content (easy to do when you look like JLo, though).
Most impressively, JLo uses proper camel case for most of her hashtags. This is important for accessibility, as camel case allows screen readers to read each capitalized word in a hashtag as separate words.
On another note, JLo also does a good job of posting videos with full subtitles, which makes them accessible and viewable for the many users who consume social media with sound off.
What we can learn from them: Make your Instagram content accessible for all users by always writing hashtags in camel case and adding subtitles to all videos.
4) Taylor Swift: AR filters
From the early days of replying to fans’ posts on Tumblr to announcing two surprise album drops last year (I wrote a separate article on that strategy alone), Taylor Swift is one celebrity from which all marketers can learn.
When it comes to Instagram, one noteworthy thing that Swift has done is create Instagram Story filters. Many artists put a lot of work into designing specific looks for their albums and music videos, and in Swift’s case, fans even recreate the looks for themselves. So, creating an AR filter actually makes a lot of sense as it allows (less ambitious) fans the same opportunity to stylize themselves using their favourite artist’s aesthetic.
What we can learn from them: Create your own AR filters for users to try out your products virtually. Some ideas: trying on products (beauty brands), applying face paint/jerseys/team colours (sports teams), immersing users within a scene (video games/entertainment brands).
5) Jessica Alba: Content creation and cross-promotion
Jessica Alba is not just good at Instagram for a celebrity, but good at Instagram period.
She has a super robust feed full of Reels, IGTV, Stories, and video posts that are original content created by her. Alba’s Instagram is set up even better than most brand accounts. She has a link tree in her bio link, lots of IG Highlights, and has even created IGTV series.
Although Alba has lots of different types of content going on in her feed, she keeps her themes consistent: being a mom, sharing her healthy and sustainable lifestyle, and promoting her companies (Honest & Honest Beauty). These themes are reflected throughout her content, regardless of the format.
Another thing that Alba does well is cross-promotion. Despite doing a lot of promotional posts for Honest on her account, she makes them relevant and useful for her own followers. For example, when posting about an Honest product, she also includes lots of educational tips in the caption.
What we can learn from them: When creating content for your brand, make sure it provides value to your followers before thinking about the product tie-in. Produce your content like you’re creating for a YouTube channel, not an advertorial.
6) Arnold Schwarzenegger: Behind-the-scenes content
Sometimes the beauty of social media is that it allows celebrities to remind us that they’re normal people too.
Take Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance. What’s more normal than lifting weights in your home gym next to your pet donkey?
Ok, so maybe the Governator is still on a different level than the rest of us, but I do admire the behind-the-scenes content that he shares about his kids, pets, being a dad, figuring out Facetime, and hanging out with other celebs.
Schwarzenegger’s Instagram feels a lot less promotional than other celebs’ accounts, which makes him all the more follow-worthy.
Even if you aren’t a fan of Schwarzenegger himself, if he’s working on a film with one of your favourite actors, you might follow his Instagram thanks to his behind-the-scenes content. For businesses, this type of content is yet another way to humanize your brand and offer exclusive content that wouldn’t be accessible anywhere else.
What we can learn from them: Posting behind-the-scenes content is a great way to reward your followers with exclusive content and give them a reason to follow your social accounts.
7) John Mayer: Humor and brand voice
Humor is a tricky thing when used as a strategy. For the brands that have become famous for being funny on social, it works really well. However, for every Wendy’s, there’s a local burger chain that tried to replicate the pointed sarcasm and timely memes to no success.
For brands that are keen on injecting some humour into their brand voice, the key might lie in balance: not posting memes 100% of the time and being funny in EVERY single caption, but using it more sparingly to have a greater impact.
One celebrity who does this balance well is John Mayer. He still posts the usual mix of music promotions, tour stop acknowledgments, and magazine shoots, but evens it out with posts like these:
Mayer’s humour is reflected in casual posts like these, as well as his Instagram Stories. Although he doesn’t use this tone in all of his posts, they are consistent enough to feel like his “brand voice” on social.
What we can learn from them: If you want to use humor in your brand voice, don’t overdo it. Balancing humorous posts with more toned-down posts will make them feel funnier and less like a schtick.
8) Chrissy Teigen: Comment game 🔥
I know Chrissy Teigen is an obvious entry for a “best celebrities on social media” list, but hear me out: I’m not including her for the usual reason of her hilarious posts.
No, the takeaway I want social media marketers to get from Teigen is her strong comment game. Unlike most celebrities, Teigen takes the time to read through comments on her posts and reply to them (often to her celebrity friends, but sometimes to normal fans too).
This is an important lesson for brands: for all the time you put into writing captions, you should be spending just as much time replying to comments. Otherwise, you’re just using social media as a one-way advertising channel, and fans will learn that quickly and stop engaging or unfollow.
What we can learn from them: Create a strategy and process for your brand to reply to comments on your own Instagram posts, as well as when your brand is mentioned on other users’ posts. This is a key part of building your community on Instagram.
There you have it: eight lessons and ideas from celebrities that you can apply your Instagram strategy.
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