Instagram Users Drawn to Sharpie

At the beginning of August, Simply Measured conducted a study of the Interbrand 100 brands who’ve adopted Instagram as a marketing outlet for engaging with consumers.

There were some interesting examples like Starbucks, Nike and Audi, who’d all gotten involved early and established themselves as leaders in the Instagram space.

But while delving into Instagram feed after Instagram feed, I kept coming back to a brand that wasn’t on the list.

Sharpie, a brand with a small product, was making a big mark on the young social network.

Now that the Facebook-owned network has passed 100 million users – a feat the app tackled in less time than any of their social counterparts – I wanted to check back in with Sharpie. Their growing success (over 5,000 new fans since our August study) provides a unique look at how brands are finding success in different ways on Instagram.

Sharpie’s approach to the simple photo-sharing service hasn’t been about sharing their traditional advertising collateral, as some of their bigger counterparts do. Instead, they use their product to tell a story. Their in-house team of staff and interns create original sharpie artwork, sketches and doodles that they post daily to engage their audience. The majority of these images are drawn by Whitney Kelly,  Associate Manager of Social Media and Public Relations with Sharpie.

“We wanted to do something different with Instagram to keep our teen audience interested and engaged, so we designed our own sort of Sharpie ‘comic strip,’” said Kelly,  “Fans love the unique, hand-drawn nature of the content (a change from the mostly photo images on Instagram) and the often cheeky nature of the drawings themselves.  As a result, our followers are growing – we went from 0 to almost 35k fans in about six months; all organic growth won without any paid promotional support.”

Their fans aren’t passive about their interest in Sharpie’s content either. Sharpie averages over 1300 likes per photo and over 21 comments. While their engagement may have grown quickly, it didn’t grow without careful consideration and strategic thought. According to Kelly, Nielsen lists Instagram as the top photography site among teens ages 12 to 17, with over 1 million teens visiting the site in July alone (a number that’s surely grown along with the network).

“Sharpie’s overall social media strategy is to showcase the work of our fans to inspire others to get creative with our products. That strategy is active across all our social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc.” said Kelly. “Winning ‘share of screen’ with teens means we have to continue to mix it up to keep them engaged — teens’ biggest enemies are boredom and unoriginality.  As a result, our approach on Instagram is to share original content we create in-house – content with a distinct POV that plays to the clever, more comical side of Sharpie’s brand equity.”

Instagram is a force in the social realm, and if you’re not treating your campaigns with the forethought that Sharpie is, you could be missing out on your share of 100 million users.

“Instagram is definitely on our radar for 2013,” said Kelly. “We look forward to seeing how we can connect with Facebook to further leverage the channel with our fans.”

Take a look at these helpful tips for planning your Instagram campaigns. Simply Measured offers a unique Excel-based Instagram analytics tool that can help you strategize your presence on the network. Check out the great data in Sharpie’s full report, and to try it for free, run a free report on your account today.

Kevin Shively

Kevin Shively

I manage the blog team at Simply Measured. My job is to tell stories to the internet...You're welcome internet.