Salesforce recently published their “2015 State of Marketing” report, in which they surveyed over 5,000 marketers about their digital strategies and priorities.  In doing so, they uncovered a massive opportunity for brands and business owners.

Only 34% of brands are currently using Instagram

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When you consider that 80% of marketers are using Facebook and 70% are on Twitter, the window for businesses to experiment with Instagram is wide open.  Images are already the most engaging type of content, and Instagram is the #1 place to share them.  In fact, engagement on Instagram is astronomically higher than its peers.

Instagram Social Media Engagement
By no means should you abandon Facebook and Twitter, but it’s never a bad idea to experiment with other mediums and see how well they can work for your business.  Since jumping into a new social media platform can be challenging, we put together a list of some of the best Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration and ideas.

These are 15 businesses and brands on Instagram that you should follow immediately.

The 1,000,000 Follower Club

1) National GeographicNational Geographic Instagram
The National Geographic Instagram is among the most followed and engaging accounts on the social platform.  As a magazine that has always placed an emphasis on amazing photographs, they’ve done an incredible job of recreating the experience of their print editions and telling a story with their content.

Every photo posted on their Instagram pages comes from a different Nat Geo photographer (who is tagged in the post), but more importantly, each photo comes with a story of what is happening in the picture, where they are, and how they captured the image.

What you can learn from NatGeo on Instagram: The power of storytelling.

Without any character counts holding you back, Instagram can serve as a unique way of combining a highly engaging photo with a story to match.


2) DisneylandDisneyland Instagram

On Instagram, Disneyland was the most geo-tagged place on the planet for the year of 2014. That means more people took a photo on Instagram and tagged their location than anywhere else.  When you’re at the “Happiest Place On Earth”, it makes sense that guests want to share that magic with their friends.  This gives the Disneyland marketing team an almost endless album of photos created entirely by their guests, which they use to their advantage.

Over 95% of the 600+ posts shared by Disneyland are actually photos taken by their fans.

Where do you go first? #CaliforniaAdventure (Photo: @al_shala7i)

A photo posted by Disneyland (@disneyland) on

What you can learn from Disneyland on Instagram:
-Best practices for featuring fan photos
-The benefits of creating a dedicated hashtag (#disneyland) to drive engagement to a specific location.

For fan photos, always give credit to the person who took the photo by tagging them.  It will probably make their day a little bit brighter, but it will also encourage and inspire your followers to keep sharing.


3) GoPro
GoPro Instagram
GoPro does something on Instagram that may seem counter-intuitive for some businesses, but works wonders for them.  If you browse their 1300+ posts, you’ll only find 5-10 that actually show the product itself.  Instead, all of their photos show how the product is used by different people around the world.

Photo of the Day! Happy 1st Hump Day of 2015! Photo by @vantinike.

A photo posted by gopro (@gopro) on

What you can learn from GoPro on Instagram:  You don’t need to show your product to sell your product.

Rather than show pictures of a camera, they show what it’s capable of doing and how versatile it can be.


4) Nike
Nike Instagram

In the last 30 days, Nike has added 1,955,622 followers, which is more than most accounts have in total.  Upon studying their page, there are a few things almost all of their posts have in common.

-The location of the photo is tagged
-The #justdoit hashtag is used
-Short, creative, inspirational and motivational copy accompanies each post
-They’re selling an idea, not a product

If you're looking for a reason, look no further than yourself. #justdoit

A photo posted by nike (@nike) on

What you can learn from Nike on Instagram: To consider every aspect of a post before you make it.

By tagging a location, adding a hashtag, nailing the copy and sharing a compelling image, their posts are not only more discoverable, but more shareable.


5) NBA
NBA Instagram

The NBA has 2,000,000 more followers on Instagram than any other professional sports league.  One thing we noticed is that they’re the only major league page to include a hashtag in their description.  Another thing we noticed while looking at the Instagram pages of every major sports league is that the NBA includes more images, as they happen, than any other league.  Because photographers can get so close to the action, they use the platform to share highlights, stats, videos and unique photos from the games as they happen.

30 points for Derrick Rose in @chicagobulls 113-111 OT victory!

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

What you can learn from the NBA on Instagram: Leverage the power of moments.

Most of the shots they take and share are still images or video of something completely unplanned and organic.  It feels real, and people love it.


6) Sephora
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Would you believe that Sephora has 6X more followers on Instagram than they do on Pinterest?  A major reason the brand has put a heavy emphasis on their Instagram page is because of Like2Buy, which helps make it easy for followers to purchase products they see on the page.

What you can learn from Sephora on Instagram: Maintaining a style & consistency across all of your images.

If you browse their page, you’ll notice almost all of their posts are a colorful product against a white background. This creates an eye-catching template for future content, and it also helps them test the popularity of photos which deviate from this strategy.


The Best Of The Rest

7) Warby ParkerWarby Parker Instagram

In 2012, Warby Parker had just over 8,000 followers on Instagram.  Now they have 18X that amount.  So how did they do it?  Community and creativity seem to be the two biggest factors.

@sketch ponders which frames to choose from his #WarbyHomeTryOn.

A photo posted by Warby Parker (@warbyparker) on

Their posts are a mix of brand news, shared in visually creative ways, to pictures they receive and post from their customers.  Warby Parker has been a very savvy brand on social media since being founded in 2010 and grew their social community over the years as they scaled their own business.  They even hosted Instagram themed events in NYC in their earlier days to get people involved and find brand advocates.

What you can learn from Warby Parker on Instagram:  Find people who love your brand and let them help spread your message.


8) Taco BellTaco Bell Instagram

Taco Bell does a great job of creatively showcasing their new and existing products, but what they’re really good at is driving traffic to other channels.  When Taco Bell released their first app on October 28, 2014, they did it by using all of their existing social media channels.  Below is an example of how they used 9 different Instagram photos to piece together a puzzle that explained why all of their content disappeared from the platform.

Taco Bell App Release
Now almost every Taco Bell Instagram post includes a call to action to download their app, which is directly linked in their profile description.

What you can learn from Taco Bell on Instagram: It’s possible to have a long-term plan or payoff in the works aside from your daily activity.


9) ChobaniChobani Instagram
Since launching in 2005, Chobani has emerged as the top-selling greek yogurt in the United States.  Instagram has been a major part of that success.

What you can learn from Chobani on Instagram: Rather than us tell you why they’re great, spend 5 minutes and read a case study the Instagram team created on the brand.


10) GapGap Instagram
Gap is another brand on our list that is currently using Instagram as a way of selling their products, but that isn’t why we included them on this list.
Gap Instagram

What you can learn from Gap on Instagram: Photography basics.

Their posts are often clean and simple, featuring backgrounds that create contrast in the picture and draw your eye to what they’re selling.  Try experimenting with different color combinations and backgrounds to make your photos pop and catch the attention of your followers.


11) Herschel Supply Co
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Herschel Supply Co is a hugely popular backpack company.  A major part of their brand and content strategy is their “Well Travelled” series, and they use their Instagram page to reinforce that content and help drive more traffic to those posts.

What you can learn from Herschel Supply Co on Instagram: 
Use the platform to compliment other social content.

Rather than featuring images of their products, they tell stories that their products are a part of, similar to GoPro and Nike.

Sit on the edge of the world. Photo: @voyage_provocateur #WellTravelled #HerschelSupply #Trolltunga

A photo posted by Herschel Supply Co (@herschelsupply) on


12) TargetTarget Instagram
One thing you’ll notice from the Target Instagram account is that almost none of their photos are of an actual Target store or show people inside one.   Instead, Target uses Instagram to show how fun and creative the brand can be.  An amazing example of that is with their recent Halloween campaign, which engaged followers in a “choose-your-own-adventure” type story that led to different Instagram accounts created specifically for this initiative.

Knock once to trick-or-treat! Or, click here: @_trick_11 or @_treat_11

A photo posted by Target (@target) on

What you can learn from Target on Instagram: Don’t be too serious, have some fun!

If you’re interested in learning more about the campaign, which is similar to something you may have seen from Ikea, read the story in Ad Age.


13) Virgin Hotels
Virgin Hotels Instagram
All of the Virgin Group social media accounts do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of their brand and Richard Branson.  Virgin Hotels, their newest property, is an account we’ve had our eye on since it launched and one we’re curious to follow over the year.

Dear Chicago, let's connect. Stay tuned. Tonight's the night.

A video posted by Virgin Hotels (@virginhotels) on

What you can learn from Virgin Hotels on Instagram: That you can use Instagram, and images, as a way of sharing the beliefs and culture of your brand.


14) UncrateUncrate Instagram

Uncrate is a shopping and lifestyle website created to dig up and highlight some of the coolest new products for men.  Each day, they post a new slate of gear, tech, cars, clothes and other products.  Since inception, they’ve posted over 9,000 items…and almost none of them are shared on their Instagram page.  Instead, they post pictures of the adventures and trips their team goes on to discover and test the products they advocate.

What you can learn from Uncrate on Instagram:  Every social media channel has its own purpose for every business that uses it.

For their team, Instagram exists to show a new perspective on their brand and what kind of effort goes into the finding the products they share.


15) Governors Ball
Governors Ball NYC Instagram

The Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City is one of the newest and youngest festivals around the country.  We were so impressed with the YOY growth they’ve seen on Instagram compared to other, more established festivals that we had to ask them about their strategy directly.

What you can learn from GovBallNYC on Instagram: Morgan Howard, their social media guru, recently gave us 6 reasons for their social success on Instagram.


That’s our list, what do you think?  Comment or tweet us with some of your own personal favorites.

If you’re new to Instagram and need more help setting up a page for your business, their business page is full of resources and tips on how to get started.  Once you download the app (iOs, Android), all you need is a camera phone and internet connection to get started.

P.S. we’re on Instagram too.