There's no doubt that Instagram has solidified its position as everyone's favorite social media platform over the past year, and with good reason. The rate at which Instagram innovates and releases new interactive features for its users is unparalleled. The past two years alone we've been exposed to Instagram stories, Instagram Live, and just this summer, Instagram Shoppable media. All of this certainly benefits the everyday user, but if you're a business, adapting quickly and utilizing these features can help you build an incredible brand on the platform, and ultimately have a profound effect on the success and health of your business.
When it comes to Instagram, there's no “one size fits all" or “magic bullet" that results in success. Maintaining an authentic, interactive, and entertaining presence that showcases content that your target demographic will love, and be willing to share, is basically the path you want to take.
It sounds easy, but some brands do this better than others. So, below we've listed 5 female founded companies that have built an incredible brand on Instagram and outlined how they've done it.
1. The Sill
Founded in 2012 by Eliza Blank, The Sill is an online plant store that is a plant heaven for everyone that loves some greenery in their lives. The 6-year-old company has built one of the most authentic and engaged communities on Instagram over the past couple of years. The Sill now boasts more than 307,000 followers, gaining on average 770 followers per day according to Social Blade. You're probably wondering, how has an online plant store achieved such explosive growth? 3 words, “User-generated content".
The Sill has done what a lot of other great brands on Instagram have done, they've tapped into a fanatical community on the platform, and this community just happens to be a community of plant lovers. Eliza and the guys at the Sill have a slogan “Plants make people happy", and this is also their own branded hashtag. Thousands of people per week post pictures of their beloved plants under this hashtag. The Sill then picks the most beautiful images and reposts them on to their feed.
The takeaway? Consistently reposting your audiences content is one of the best ways to build an incredible brand and community on Instagram, and it's a win-win for everybody. The user gets their imagery exposed to a large audience, and the brand curates a beautiful feed. Even if you have a small audience on Instagram try building UGC into your strategy.
Founded by Jen Rubio and Steph Korey, Away make suitcases and a range of travel accessories for the everyday traveler. A huge element of Away's success is a result of how they've built an incredible brand on social the past couple of years, and in particular, on Instagram. So, how does one make suitcases sexy in a way that results in hundreds of thousands of followers online? Well, Jen, Steph, and the guys have done two things extremely well.
1. They've tapped into a category of content that we all know and love, travel. Away's content doesn't just consist of their physicals products, but instead, their imagery takes their community on a journey around the world, showcasing the most beautiful locations that their customers visit.
2. We spoke earlier about how successful brands on Instagram utilize every new feature that the platform affords them, and Away is certainly one of the best at adapting early to every little feature Instagram release. From stories to highlights to polls to shoppable media. Away's Instagram account is not only set up to generate sales, but it is also optimized to take its followers on an interactive journey every single day, which is incredible for engagement.
Our takeaway? When Instagram brings out a new feature, don't be afraid to try it out, it might just be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors.
Glossier is the beauty juggernaut founded by Emily Weiss back in 2010. Glossier came off the back of the success of Into the Gloss, a blog created by Weiss out of her New York City Apartment while interning at Vogue. Glossier has created one of the most successful brands on Instagram out of anyone in the beauty business. How have they done this? In a nutshell, their content is just oh so relatable. Below we've listed 3 things that make them a standout brand on Instagram
1. A relatable tone of voice. How does Glossier speak on Instagram? Quite simply, just like anyone who buys their products. Their casual, millennial oriented language speaks directly to their community. Whether it's a meme, a video, or the showcasing of a new product, you can be assured that the copy will be casual and authentic.
2. They showcase their community on their feed. When it comes to brands as big as Glossier, not many post their fans pics directly onto their main feed, but, glossier has garnered such a following, that their customers can't help but post before an after shots of their glistening, reinvigorated skin after they have used their products, and Glossier team is only happy to repost this on to their feed.
3. They have a very distinguishable aesthetic. When you're scrolling through your feed, you'll know a Glossier post when you see one. Their pastel palette is instantly recognizable and incredibly cohesive when looked at on their feed collectively. A pro tip for building a great brand on Instagram, create an aesthetic that is not only authentic but is cohesive, with so much content now vying for our attention on Instagram, having an instantly recognizable look will lend itself to people not “glossing" over your content in the main feed, but will have users subconsciously recognise your imagery, so they are much more likely to stop and engage.
Our takeaway? Take some time to establish an aesthetic that is unique to your brand. Whether it's a filter, a Lightroom preset, or a particular color scheme. Creating something that your audience can become more familiar with over time will pay dividends when it comes to increasing your engagement and growing your following.
Co-founded by Carly Strife, Barkbox is a monthly subscription box of toys, treats, and chews to thrill your dog. The guys at Barkbox have built one of the best brands over the years by primarily being a dominant force on Instagram. Now, you're probably thinking, well isn't it easier to be successful on Instagram when you've got a pool adorable dog content to play with? The answer is yes, but Barkbox has built a following of over 1.4 million by investing time in sourcing only the most comical canine content out there. From memes to viral videos, Barkbox differs greatly from the accounts that we mentioned above in that its primary purpose on Instagram is as a platform to entertain. Collectively, their feed isn't in the same league as Glossier or Away when it comes to being cohesively beautiful, but it's viral centric content will have you scrolling for hours, and will ensure that you come back for more.
Our biggest takeaway from this? If incorporating humor throughout your Instagram feed is viable, go for it, although it might not be directly tied to promoting your product or service. It will act as a brand building mechanism that will deepen your community on Instagram and enlarge your pool of potential customers.
5. Rent the Runway
Founded by Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway is also an online subscription-based service that allows women to rent clothing, instead of paying the hefty price that would be associated with purchasing the same item. Like a lot of fashion brands, Rent the Runway has turned to Instagram to foster their community of users online. To date, they have more than 236,000 followers on the platform and are picking up on average 330 more every day, according to Social Blade. So how have they managed to build such a rapid and interactive following? Well, similarly to The Sill, the guys at Rent the Runway have invested heavily in tapping into the lives of their customers on Instagram, and utilizing all the amazing user-generated content that their customers create for them.
Women travel all around the world in clothing that they have sourced from RTR, documenting their journeys along the way. From the streets of Soho to the rustic cobblestones of inner-city Paris, RTR clothing travels everywhere, and their Instagram is the location where they present all of it. In addition to beautiful clothing in breathtaking locations, Rent the Runway also taps into who their ideal customer is, and if you scroll through their feed, you will find images of Sarah Jessica Parker or Sofia Vergara, and in many ways, these women embody who the celebrity Rent the Runway customer is.
A takeaway from this? Find influential individuals who embody your philosophy, then showcase and champion them on Instagram. This will allow your customers to establish a much more tangible connection with your brand and what it represents.
Above are just a few female founded brands that are killing it on Instagram. If you know of more, head over to our Instagram and let us know there.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.