9 Brands Crushing It with Instagram Stories

brands using instagram stories

In the last two years, we’ve seen many brands crushing it on social media with Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories create an interesting dynamic for brands because, from the outside, no one can numerically judge the success of their efforts — there is no view count or like count.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t clear all-stars when it comes to Instagram Stories. Get inspired by these 9 brands leveraging Instagram Stories in awesome ways.

1. Converse

Just about everyone in America knows Converse as a brand. They’re the original “gotta-have-it” sneaker. You weren’t cool unless you wore Chuck Taylors. But what you may have missed is just how hard Converse works to be “alternative”. Converse’s social team puts real effort into purposefully missing the mark on “cool.”

Frankly, it’s a genius move. The more Converse pushes against “cool”, the more they earn the respect of young Generation Z. Sounds like Classic Converse to me.

Creative aside, marketers should take notice of their Instagram Story strategy. In announcing the rollout of a new shoe collaboration, Converse seamlessly connects their Instagram post content with their Instagram Story content.

converse instagram story

Their Instagram feed and Instagram Story work in perfect harmony.

converse instagram story

I’m all for obvious, somewhat repetitive social—wash, rinse, and repeat. If brands want their audience to know something, they should wrap exciting, memorable content around that something and repeat, repeat, repeat, just as Converse has done—so nicely “it will make you puke.”

2. National Geographic

Here, we see nature’s crafty photojournalists trying to domesticate the wild that is Instagram Stories. Join me, as we study their behaviors.

The photographs and storytelling found in National Geographic have been legendary almost since the magazine’s inception in 1888. Just as they do in print and across their digital properties, NatGeo has found innovative ways to share new ecological studies and award-winning imagery in the newest medium.

National Geographic instagram story
Through Instagram Stories, National Geographic educates and promotes conservation efforts being done by incredible people and organizations across the world. In this example, their Swipe Up call to action drives users to a National Geographic landing page where visitors can pledge to reduce plastic usage and share their pledge on social.

National Geographic instagram example

3. Twitter

Twitter shamelessly shares highlights from the channel on Instagram Stories. Swipe up, and users will land on Twitter. If they haven’t downloaded the app or created an account, they will be prompted to do so.

twitter instagram story

Twitter knows what Tweeters love to Tweet about. Their Instagram Stories are full of social causes, news, sports and celebrities. Each video prompts users to swipe up to learn more (swipe up to go to Twitter), where the “real” conversations are happening. When they post such engaging content, who can fault Twitter for stealing a little Instagram love for themselves?

4. Minimalist Baker

People love food (it’s true — I’m one of these people). Thanks to the sheer volume of food pics on the platform, Instagram is one of the best places to see and experience all the great things that food has to offer, especially new trends and easy-to-follow recipes. Minimalist Baker is one of the standout stars in this category.

Every day, founder and photographer Dana Shultz shares new plant-based recipes that are simple to make and even easier to eat. Minimalist Baker’s Stories are a blast to watch and learn from and always include the full recipe and ingredient list as a Swipe Up.  

minimalist baker instagram story

But it’s the use of Instagram Stories Highlights that really helps them crush it. By keeping some of their most popular recipes and Stories stocked at the top of their profile, they enable new foodies to discover their take on plant-based cooking in a super approachable, step-by-step fashion.

minimalist baker instagram 

5. Nordstrom Rack

The managers of the Nordstrom Rack account went behind-the-scenes on their holiday shoot. While the models joyfully bounced around, teenage shoppers ran to their parents, begging for an advance on their monthly allowances.

instagram story Nordstrom rack

Everyone knows Nordstrom stands for quality, but seeing the clothes in action takes them beyond #goals to #mustbemine. By the time the professional photos from this BTS shoot hit stores/catalogs (and the clothes hit the racks), shoppers will feel a kinship to the models, excitement for the new season and, most importantly, trust in the brand.

6. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones fans love their merch, and the managers of the Game of Thrones Instagram account plan to take that fact straight to the bank.

instagram story game of thrones

The Game of Thrones audience, ruled by forever-nerds, will leap at any piece of merchandise that may raise them above the hoards of wine-drinkers-who-know-things. By sharing links to merchandise clearly made by small-fry superfans, the brand shows a ton of heart. This Instagram Story is another great example of a brand profiting from knowing and serving their audience. They even have the clever hashtag #reptherealm.

7. Buffer

When you’re trying to Netflix & Chill, buffering is the last thing you want. But when you want to stay up to speed and on your toes as to what’s new and exciting in the world of social, Buffer’s blog is an outstanding resource.

Every Thursday, Buffer uses Instagram Story Polls to quiz their followers on their social media expertise, and they give out real prizes for each quiz!

buffer instagram story
These #BufferTriviaThursdays quizzes are a brilliant way to bring attention to new social topics Buffer’s audience needs to continue learning about. They’re a ton of fun to take, and they test your skillz (the “z” helps you know you’re cool!) — all while reinforcing Buffer’s breadth of company knowledge.

8. Crossfit

Crossfit is attempting to serve an international audience from one account, and that’s no easy feat (talk about a killer workout). Yes, a lot of brands do it, but Crossfit isn’t promoting a product; they are promoting a lifestyle. Going international and covering all those lifestyles (which include a variety of cultures and traditions) is tough.

I won’t congratulate Crossfit on the quality of their photography/videography because, frankly, I think they can do better. However, I do commend the brand on staying so true to brand and utilizing their resources.

crossfit instagram story

The brand used Instagram Live (later shared to their Instagram Story), user-generated content, and influencer marketing, all in one story, which is pretty incredible. Their Instagram content also covers their brand pillars of food, fitness, community and jockish humor.

9. Taco Bell

Say you are dating a nice boy and want him to remember you no matter where he is. What do you do? Take a super cute selfie, and make it his phone’s background photo without his permission. Duh. Unforgettable.

That’s all Taco Bell is asking: to be unforgettable by way of phone backgrounds everywhere.

Taco Bell instagram story

This sort of engagement is pretty common. Many brands prompt users to capture the perfectly proportioned Instagram Story images to later use as extraordinary phone display images (and Snapchat Stories). With a phone background like this, friends of the Taco Bell fan will likely see a tenfold increase in instances of, “Want to go to Taco Bell?”

Thanks to Instagram Stories’ many features, from live video to links, there are many ways to engage your audience. As a marketer, you must continue to experiment and learn how to best leverage the features to help you achieve your social media objectives.

When brands really kill it on Instagram Stories, it’s a result of understanding and serving the needs and wants of their audiences, as with any other social platform.

What we’re seeing from winnings brands is how often they’re optimizing their already finely-tuned Instagram content to fit the new medium. Other times, they use the on-the-go temporary publisher to give the audience a look behind-the-scenes, straight into the soul of the brand.

As we’ve seen, there are a plethora of ways your brand can use Instagram Stories. If you are confident your team produces content that captivates, engages and serves your audience, begin testing out that content on Instagram Stories. You’ll be happy you did.

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