It’s no secret that brands are moving away from traditional marketing methods—TV, print, and radio—and focusing their efforts on social media instead.

The dominance of influencers, micro-influencers, dynamic ads, and multiple content formats makes Instagram the perfect place for businesses to build their brands.

For some brands, this means that Instagram has been a total game-changer. Instead of using traditional marketing methods, they’ve found an “Instagram-first” strategy to be a more efficient use of their budgets—and a better fit for their unique brands.

Continue reading to discover:

  • If an Instagram-first strategy is right for your brand
  • How to tap into your customers’ biggest desires with your Instagram content—so you can boost revenue
  • Creative ideas to help your brand get seen by new customers every day
  • Key methods used by successful brands that you can incorporate into your Instagram strategy today

Secrets of 3 Instagram-first brands


In 2014, ultra-popular beauty blogger Emily Weiss launched the makeup and skincare line, Glossier. Unlike other beauty brands you might see in your local department store or on the chicest shopping streets in your city, Glossier is almost an entirely online experience.

“We operate solely through social channels,” Weiss told Mashable. “You are allowed to get, by leveraging technology, a better brand with immediate results. We know our customer, what she’s purchased, and put her on her journey. If she likes Haloscope, maybe she’s a makeup girl and will like lipsticks.”

Build a cohesive (and eye-catching) visual brand

It’s almost impossible to go on Instagram and not see the familiar pink of a Glossier post. Whether it’s a top-notch influencer sharing their favorite products or a happy customer showing off an unboxing on their Instagram Stories, the company has created an incredibly social media-friendly brand.

Thanks to Glossier’s aesthetically pleasing packaging and fashion-forward branding, their products are highly photogenic. The hashtag #glossier has more than 194,000 posts—and is growing by the minute.

instagram first brands

The nature of the products themselves doesn’t hurt either. Customers often share selfies featuring makeup looks they’ve created with Glossier products, many of which Glossier then features on their official Instagram page.

What can your business do to create a shareable Instagram-first brand like Glossier?

  • Choose a dominant visual look and style, and stick to it. Glossier is known to favor minimalism and millennial pink. Whether it’s a photo of a stylish bathroom sink or a text-based Q&A video, Glossier has these elements front and center on Instagram. When you don’t have a bricks-and-mortar store, it’s even more important for your social media presence to set your brand’s tone and have an impact.
  • Put the spotlight on your customers. While Glossier has worked with major influencers, their Instagram feed is full of “regular” customers who have used their products with great results. The average customer doesn’t have the same access to resources that a highly-paid influencer might, so in showing that these beautiful results can be achieved by anyone, Glossier proves they understand their audience’s needs.

La Croix

As a die-hard La Croix fan (hello, coconut), I wasn’t surprised to find out that the flavored sparkling water company’s profits more than doubled from 2015 to 2017, growing from $49.3 million to $107 million.

While the company has been selling their now iconic cans for more than 30 years, La Croix has seen a remarkable resurgence in recent years—and this resurgence is not coincidentally aligned with Instagram’s rise in popularity.

Although La Croix definitely isn’t the only sparkling water brand out there, they stand out due to their focus on digital over traditional marketing methods.

“The company is particularly active on Instagram, where it works with a vast network of “micro-influencers” (the term for users with thousands, instead of hundreds of thousands, of followers) and encourages fans to use hashtags to share La Croix recipes and experiences,” Fortune’s Laura Entis explains.

And, because of its calorie and sweetener-free status, La Croix is recognized as a healthier alternative to sugar-packed beverages. As a result, hoards of health and nutrition influencers have been happy to include La Croix products in their posts.

Like Glossier, La Croix’s aesthetically pleasing packaging helps boost brand recognition amongst Instagram users both on and offline. Fans will proudly share the spotlight with a can of their favorite La Croix flavor—an instant prop that nods to their apparent healthy lifestyle and awareness of trends. By making their product the ultimate hip Instagram accessory, La Croix has become somewhat of a digital marketing legend.

How can your brand tap into the power of La Croix?

  • Think about how your products or services can be used in Instagram content. Not everyone will have such a photogenic product, but there are ways to feature even the most mundane items in ways that make your customers want to share it on their own feeds.
  • Consider lifestyle trends. La Croix hit social media at the perfect time, when soda is becoming less and less en vogue and millennials are seeking fun props and status symbols for their Instagram posts. While your product might not perfectly fit into every new phenomenon, think about aesthetic trends you can follow. Right now minimalism, a particular shade of purple, and an earthy boho look are all stylish in the design world. These are all looks that you can easily incorporate into your Instagram posts.
  • Work with micro-influencers. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a relevant micro-influencer on Instagram. Learn more about working effectively with micro-influencers in our post Everything Social Marketers Need to Know About Micro-Influencers.


Since 2014, Article has been bringing beautiful furniture to customers across North America—all without a single physical showroom. The modern interiors company believes that in cutting out the middle men (warehouses, salespeople, wholesalers, export agents, manufacturers, etc.) the customer gets a more efficient and economic experience.

instagram first brands

Because they have no showrooms for customers to see and try the furniture out in person, Article’s social media presence is crucial. “Instagram and platforms like Pinterest really help showcase our creative because they’re visual-centric platforms,” Article’s director of marketing Duncan Blair told MiC.

To ensure they’re getting the most out of every post, Article’s marketing team focuses on the power of Instagram ads. In 2016, the company developed a campaign with the purpose of boosting sales amongst new and returning customers. These successful ads featured interiors styled with Article’s furniture, creating an aspirational (yet attainable) experience for the audience.

A big part of Article’s ad strategy is paying close attention to their online audience. Instead of simply using traditional demographics, the marketing team targeted lookalike audiences based on interests similar to current customers, along with retargeting ads to those who had visited the site without making a purchase.

Blair explained that targeting was “also based on people with tastes in verticals like food, art and tech, in order to capture an audience that was younger or more tech-native (those who were already comfortable with making major purchases online).”

Thanks to this ad campaign, Article saw a 8X return on ad spend, and 36 percent of sales included Instagram in the customer journey.

How can your Instagram strategy get you results like Article’s?

  • Run Instagram ads. Social media ads have proven to be an effective means for generating new business, and Instagram ads are no exception. Gone are the days where you could rely on your organic content to get results. Don’t know where to start? Check out our post How to Advertise on Instagram: A Guide for Marketers.
  • Focus on your target customer. Whether sharing a paid or organic post, you need to know who your customer is. Create a target persona to help inspire organic content, and then build your paid audiences based on this information. Start by figuring out the kinds of posts or brands your ideal customer is already engaging with on Instagram, and go from there.
  • Make it as easy as possible for your audience to purchase your product through Instagram. Without a physical store, Article knows their Instagram showroom needs to be easy to navigate. They regularly use shoppable posts that allow their audience to buy a featured product directly from the Instagram content. If you’re looking to create shoppable posts for your own brand, check out Instagram’s help article on the subject.

When you don’t have a bricks-and-mortar location, it can be hard to give your customers a truly immersive brand experience. But, with the right strategies, an Instagram-first presence can be the best thing to happen to your business.

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish photos directly to Instagram, engage your audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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