With more than 800 million users, Instagram has come a long way since its first photo was posted of a dog and a sandal back in 2010. Freelancers use Instagram to build their business, agencies use it to find new clients, and the way brands and their followers communicate with one another has been revolutionized.
I created a library of inspiring Instagram accounts that all marketers should be following because it’s imperative to constantly gain inspiration from other artists, agencies, and brands. Dig in, and let me know which ones I missed in the comments!
Use these links to jump to your our favorite Instagram accounts based on brands, agencies, and influencers!
There are hundreds of brands that are doing awesome things on Instagram, but I chose these nine that stuck out to me for a variety of reasons. Some of them provide content created by customers of their own, while others post photography so beautiful that it’s that much easier to see yourself using that brand. Overall, these brands have mastered exactly who they are on Instagram and what type of content their followers want to see.
Every single post on Adobe’s Instagram is created by one of the millions of users that open Adobe’s suite of products every day. Creatives are able to have their work shown on a platform of more than 675,000 followers, while Adobe is able to reinforce that they are a staple in creative innovation, without having to say anything at all.
I know Airbnb is usually at the top of these sorts of lists, but it’s for good reason! Airbnb’s Instagram perfectly reflects what they do as a company. They combine the practicality of staying in someone’s beautiful home with the mysticism of what destinations around the world have to offer, all in a single photo. Whether you are a marketer studying Airbnb’s brilliant marketing strategy or just a traveler getting inspired for your next trip, Airbnb is the Instagram account for you.
MR PORTER is a global eCommerce site for menswear that sells over 300 international premium brands, including Prada, Nike, and St. Laurent. Their Instagram seamlessly integrates the products they sell with lifestyle imagery so classic that it looks like it came out of a 1960s fashion magazine. Their marketing strategy makes it impossible for customers to imagine going to work, grabbing a drink, or working out without the style of MR PORTER.
Saturday Night Live has lots of different content on their Instagram, and that’s why it works so well. They post photos of upcoming hosts and musical guests, weekly #TBTs of classic sketches, and imagery that fans create and send in to them. They’ve also started to champion the use of Insta stories by sharing behind-the-scenes looks into Studio 8H and allowing the host of the week take it over during rehearsals and table reads.
A company with a brick-and-mortar store located right here in Omaha, Nebraska, Hello Holiday has gained national attention with their eCommerce site that specializes in local products and clothing for women of all shapes and sizes. Their Instagram follows suit by highlighting their lovely new products modeled by a variety of women set against bright and beautiful backgrounds. Hello Holiday never waivers from their fiercely female brand, and I’m here for it!
Who would’ve thought that felt boards would become a staple in most households in 2017, but it worked out well for the couple behind the company, Letterfolk. Letterfolk’s Instagram is filled with day-to-day occurrences like cooking dinner and doing laundry to huge life events like buying a house and having a baby, all tied together with a quick quip in sans-serif font on the only product they sell, letter boards. It’s minimalist, it’s stylish, and it works.
Chubbies has basically turned their Instagram into a meme machine of their own products, and it’s amazing. It doesn’t matter what they’re advertising (and most of the time they aren’t advertising anything), you can’t help but chuckle as you scroll through their pheno-meme-nal timeline. Chubbies is a great reminder to never take yourself, or your brand, too seriously.
Before she became an international sensation, Rihanna was just a young girl from Barbados who was never able to find makeup for her skin tone. Well ten years into her stardom, she decided to use her platform by helping young girls like her and create a line of beauty products for every skin color. Fenty Beauty launched in September of 2017, and in less than nine months, Fenty Beauty has reached 3.5 million followers on Instagram. The success is a combination of excellent products, diverse models, and the number of posts per day, which is typically around three to five.
Patagonia reminds us that it’s okay to stand up for what you believe in, whether it’s your personal brand or your company. In their Insta bio, Patagonia states that they “build the best product and cause no unnecessary harm.” They aren’t ashamed to be a champion in solving the environmental crisis, and their Instagram very clearly invites their followers to do the same.
Who would have thought a hosting company could have such a bright, vibrant Instagram account? Our content includes new product releases, the latest from Layout, and even #pupdates, features of our adorable office pets. The Flywheel Instagram account focuses on our values of promoting good design, being productive community members, and celebrating our amazing team, and it’s certainly easy to see!
It can be easy to put your agency’s social media presence on the backburner, especially when you’re busy creating your best work for clients. But, you have to remember that your clients are doing as much research about you as you are about them. If they’re considering you for social media marketing or photography, but they log onto your Instagram and see you haven’t posted in 186 days, they’re probably going to pass. That’s why I highlighted a few agencies that have been crushing it on Instagram lately. Each agency I picked has very different Instagram aesthetics, but they’re all similar in the fact that they know Instagram is an easy way to interact with their followers and customers.
Huge Inc is a Brooklyn-based agency that focuses on fast-paced, high-energy campaigns for huge companies like Nike, Hulu, and Lenovo. But, you wouldn’t know any of that if you stumbled upon their Instagram account. Instead you see badass photography of employees modeling with a hatchet, their iconic ‘H’ logo reimagined by artists, and snapshots of the cities around the world where their offices are located. Huge Inc reminds you (and inspires you) to work for a company that you’re obsessed with.
For years I thought you had to look a certain way, say certain things, wear certain things, be this person that others expected you to be.⠀ ⠀ Reality is, we can show up exactly as ourself and we are more effective. We can:⠀ – Sell more and work less⠀ – Be less stress and have more energy ⠀ – Forget fear and be confident ⠀ ⠀ Why?⠀ ⠀ Because we aren’t wasting energy being anything we aren’t. We don’t pretend. We just be. ⠀ ⠀ What’s something about yourself you’ve been too scared to let someone know about the real you?
If you’ve considered pursuing Instagram Stories for your business but aren’t sure where to start, check out @bossproject. A company that helps creative entrepreneurs build a sustainable business, Boss Project posts to their Story basically every day. They use this feature to remind their followers that their lives could be easier if they gave these entrepreneurs a try. They always keep their business model top of mind on Instagram by posting information about their online courses, providing teases of their weekly podcast, or promoting their Goal Crusher Club. (Their Insta also inspires you to become way more productive in your everyday life, which is definitely an added perk.)
After scrolling through the millennial pink, neon-lit quips, and serious #girlboss vibes, it becomes abundantly clear that Skirt PR is run by women for women. Their leading clients include BirchBox, Condé Nast, and Women’s Health, proving that finding (and owning) a niche is completely worth it.
“Taste Maker.” Huge thanks to Lara Deam, @larahdeam founder and CEO of Dwell who came by BBDO San Francisco for a chat with @jimlesser and to share her inspiring journey with us. When she started Dwell in 2000, the world thought overstuffed couches were the height of fashion for interiors. She and Dwell showed America how amazing modern design could be and changed the way we look at our homes forever.
“We’re not just BBDO IN San Francisco. We’re BBDO AND San Francisco.” That’s what I found when I read BBDO San Francisco’s Insta bio, and I instantly fell in love with them. Their Instagram is exclusively dedicated to San Francisco, almost to the point where I thought I was on an SF tourism account for a second. They took the pride of their hometown and turned it into a marketing strategy. BDDO is basically stating that they wouldn’t be who they are without San Fran, and San Fran wouldn’t be the same without their creative expertise.
If you’ve considered tapping into the influencer market for your company or agency, search for @motherlondon on Instagram. Instead of highlighting its company culture or swanky portfolio of client work, they hand over their Instagram account to their favorite creative people each week. Their Insta feed is gorgeous of course, but the marketing strategy behind this is why I love them so much. Each and every week, Mother is tapping into different creative communities by highlighting vastly different artists. Those artists likely share that they’re going to be featured on @motherlondon to their followers, which brings traffic (and potentially business) back to Mother’s Instagram page.
Influencers and artists
“Marketers around the world have been forced to create entirely new strategies for their companies and clients based around influencer marketing. ” I guarantee that each of these influencers would agree that they wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for the reach and capabilities of Instagram. I selected a wide range of influencers across the creative sphere, but these are just a few. I encourage you to follow all of these wonderful humans, but also do some research on your own to find out which influencers best match what you do on a day-to-day basis.
Born in Germany and raised in Austria, Tobias is currently living in New York City and is getting shit done while he’s there. He’s the co-founder of Semplice, a portfolio system for WordPress, and helps with brand identity for companies like Red Bull, Google, and NASA (Yup, freakin’ NASA). His Instagram is full of his work, his life in the city, and strangely satisfying photography. If Tobias can’t inspire you to do your best work, no one can!
Jasmine Star started as a broke law student drop-out, became one of the best wedding photographers in the world, and most recently transformed into a business strategist for creative entrepreneurs. She did all of this by marketing her photography and her brand through social media (specifically Instagram). At her core, she’s just a damn good marketer. Jasmine is a great reminder that we should always remain scrappy, no matter how successful we become.
@wynwileyphoto family portrait. ??? ok really though we are celebrating because it’s @laurenfrink and my one year work wife work husband anniversary!!!! love you and literally don’t know what i’d do with out you @laurenfrink. indy puppy i love you too. the biggest thank you to @emmamorem for the family portrait ???
Oh, Wyn. The man I’ve never met, but I feel like I’ve come to know so well thanks to his utterly honest Instagram posts and constant Story updates. Some days he’s channeling Miranda Sings and being a total goofball and other days he confesses that he’s been feeling overwhelmed and burnt out by the constant grind of working for yourself. Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Wyn uses photography to tell authentic stories, just like the way he tells his own stories on Instagram.
What does it mean to be a girl boss? Perseverance, persistence, determination, kindness, believe in yourself, refuse to dim your light because someone else might be uncomfortable with the volume, speak up, but listen carefully, consults herself for the answers, and when everyone else thinks she might be crazy…. she does it anyway. #GirlBoss #Entrepreneur #Entrepreneurship #MondayMotivation #MondayMugShot
A constant criticism of Instagram is that people only post the pretty and perfect moments of their life; that’s not the case for Sara Blakely. Sara, the inventor of SPANX, uses her Instagram to let her followers know that being a badass entrepreneur and a mother of four children is as wild as it sounds. Her feed varies from candid photos of her drinking from quote-filled coffee cups, an occasional meme, and videos of her children wreaking havoc all over the house. Sara lets us know that it is possible to be a great parent and a great boss, you just have to sacrifice a little bit of sleep and sanity for it!
Back home now after speaking and teaching calligraphy workshops in Dubai @ingcreatives. Travel is often a great opportunity to get new perspective on life when it is most needed, lots to think about. Thanks to Ramy and his team, and the audience, speakers and workshop attendees (you all know who you are) for making me feel so welcome. #dubai #burjkhalifa #dubaiharbour
Has anyone else watched a calligraphy video (or twelve) and all of a sudden it’s 1:00 in the morning? Well, that’s what will happen if you start following Seb Lester on Instagram. A graphic designer by day, Seb has made it big on Instagram with his perfectly precise calligraphy videos, earning him more than one million followers. He uses his Influencer status as a way to promote his art and the occasional promoted post, as well.
On our wedding day, as we stood barefoot in the grass, Keith read his handwritten vows to me in front of all the people we love. Through choked back tears he recited, “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free…” We’ve lived by this Thich Nhat Hanh philosophy from the day we met…we’ve infused it into every interaction with each other, and every interaction with Bucket and Dagwood. There is a profound need in us to encourage the wildness in one other. There is no ownership in our family. We do not belong to one another…we simply belong together. ?: @thehearnes
Brianna Madia (along with her husband and two dogs) gave up a 9 to 5 job and residing in an apartment to live out of her burnt orange van appropriately named Bertha. Brianna is a full-time storyteller, and Instagram is her canvas. Each and every post is so thoughtfully written that you can easily imagine living Brianna’s nomadic life after reading it. If living out of a van is a little too adventurous for you, I still recommend following Brianna to remind yourself to hit pause, reset, and take the road less traveled every so often.
Happy Earth Day! This year marks the 48th anniversary of this incredibly important day. We must all do our part to ensure we live on a healthy and thriving planet, whether it’s riding your bike instead of driving, or getting produce from your local farmers market. Take some time out of your day to think about what you love about this planet, and what you can do everyday to keep it beautiful. #adobepartner #adobe #adobeinsiders #madewithAi
If you prefer a minimalist aesthetic on Instagram, go follow @plaidmtn. Matt Carlson, a freelance illustrator and designer, has found a niche within the outdoor recreation and wildlife industry, which means his feed is filled with icons and imagery of green foliage, cute animals, and animated people strolling through animated towns. Every design he posts is so intricate, yet so simple at the same time. Less is more when it comes to art like this.
You are fat. You are imperfect. You are flawed. ??♀️ How many of you can raise your hand and say thoughts like this happen when you look in the mirror? I did that my whole life and it got me absolutely no where. ✨ Someone asked me where my confidence comes from and I responded: I define my beauty, I am worthy of being loved, and my body is just the strong shell that holds my soul. ?? If hating yourself got you anywhere, wouldn’t you have already arrived? As silly as this sounds, I want you to commit to spending the next week repeating this to yourself whenever you catch your reflection. ?? I am worthy. I am enough. I am strong. ✨ It’s time to punch that inner mean girl in the face and claim the truth that is as true for you as it is for me! Post an emoji below if you will commit to a week of positive self talk! ?? (Warning: if you stick around here long enough, you might just gain that confidence you’ve been looking for!)
Another influencer who made her career through Instagram is Jenna Kutcher. Jenna does it all and posts it all on Insta. She’s a photographer, an online course educator, host of the @goaldiggerpodcast, and a body positive advocate. Essentially, she’s a total boss. Her Instagram is basically photos of herself, but if you are your brand then it makes total sense.
There’s something about optical illusions that will never not blow my mind, and Kevin Parry is the Instagram master of them. He only has 140 posts on Instagram, but he has quickly racked up more than 400,000 followers because his videos are that good! If you’ve hit a design or writing wall, just scroll through Kevin’s page to get some creative inspiration.
Instagram is the first place I go when I’m feeling uninspired, but thanks to these companies and influencers it’s easy for me to get back into an artistic flow.
This article was first published 5-7-2018. It was last updated 3-27-2019.