How Brands From Subway to Maserati Are Using Instagram Effectively

The fact that the word “porn” is associated with so many innocent photo categories on Instagram (#shoeporn, #foodporn, #travelporn) speaks to the power of pictures and their ability to allow our minds to indulge in a little fantasy. If you’ve ever been on the slow carb diet, for example, you may partake in a little #pancakeporn as you count down to your cheat day.

The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is cliché for a reason. Pictures send an immense amount of information to our brains all at once. Given that our society has an average attention span of just eight seconds (shorter than that of a goldfish, at nine) it’s no wonder that 25 million businesses are tapping into the power of Instagram to engage their digitally distracted customers.

Brands like Maserati are reaching millions of new potential customers throughInstagram and Facebook by taking their minds on a little journey. Recently, the luxury car company developed a two-phase video campaign to introduce their new Levante SUV and generate fresh leads. The elegantly produced videos showcased the car’s spacious interior, modern console, red leather seats and, of course, the always gratifying round-the-corner-slow-mo driving shots.


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Viewers could easily fantasize about what it felt like to be behind the wheel—so much so that the campaign moved 21,000 people to look into buying a car for themselves. Not only did this account for one third of its total customer leads, but it actually generated the sale of 127 vehicles. #carporn at its best.
Many other brands, large and small, have succeeded at using Instagram in creative ways. And if you’re looking to get in on the action, it’s important to dissect campaigns like these to figure out just what they did right. Here are a few things they have in common:

They master the basics
It may sound obvious, but it pays to remember that Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, so it’s important to take really, really good photos.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on Instagram is taking pictures that don’t really say anything. Kind of like that one friend we all have who posts the same driver’s seat selfie with the same expression, and the only way you can tell it’s a different day is that she’s wearing a different shirt.
Don’t be that friend. Especially not when it comes to your business.


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Ask top influencers like Erica Domesek of P.S. – I made this… and they’ll confirm that top-notch photography is crucial. If you check out Domesek’s Instagram for a little inspiration you’ll find that, while her crafts are undeniably awesome, equally as important is the way they are shot. She often uses vivid colors, interesting angles, and a few fun surprises to evoke an emotional response—which seamlessly translates into engagement.

They target their following online and off
No matter what you’re selling, be it cars, clothes, or tech gadgets, it’s important to tell a good story to show your audience how your product fits into their lives. If you’re selling a gorgeous dress, for example, you might want to elicit a response like “I could wear that to the company Christmas party!” And if you’re smart, you’ll set up a shot that puts that thought into your customer’s head without them having to try too hard.

Again, you want to evoke an emotional response because, after all, that’s what gets customers to engage and convert.

Subway did this exceptionally well in their summer #SubYAY campaign. The sandwich chain’s goal was to reinvent its social media voice by appealing to millennial and Gen-Z demographics. They executed this by creating a festival-specific campaign that would reinforce Subway’s presence at these key places of interest.


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“The Green Room, baked by Subway,” appeared at five music festivals across the United States: The Hangout, Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Firefly and Outside Lands. Subway created static images for Instagram that captured the essence of #SubYAY at each festival, featuring members of their target demographic as a means of showing festival attendees and social followers that Subway fits into their lives. They also created Instagram Story content to immerse followers into the world of #SubYAY as it happened.

As a result, Subway reached a total potential audience of 38.6 million, received 175.8K engagements and increased its positive brand sentiment by 13 percent, not to mention, a 62K increase in Instagram followers by giving them a little well positioned #sandwichporn.

They go wild on their engagement tactics
Remember, folks, attention spans are shorter than your average goldfish. Not only do you have to hook your audience, you have to keep them engaged and coming back for more. Giving them something awesome to look at is a solid first step, but keeping them consistently engaged is crucial for increasing loyalty.

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