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Why Instagram Is the Apex of North Face’s Social Media Strategy

The North Face has been more active  on Twitter than any other network in 2015,  tweeting an average of 42.9 times per week. The outdoor apparel and gear brand has seen a whopping 26% growth in engagement on Twitter, too.

north face brand posts
This chart from the Simply Measured Cross-Channel Social Performance report shows The North Face’s posting cadence across its active social channels in 2015 so far.

But in terms of sheer magnitude of engagement? Instagram is the jewel in The North Face’s crown.

The North Face has driven almost 4 million total engagements on the visual network in the year — compared to about 155,000 on Facebook and just over 21,000 on Google Plus.  This chart really says it all:

north face instagram
This chart from the Simply Measured Cross-Channel Social Performance report shows how Instagram dominates The North Face’s engagement as a social network.

So what’s The North Face doing so well on Instagram?

First, I think the visual-only platform fits the exploratory associations and expectations people have of The North Face brand.

Then there’s The North Face’s exquisite use of user-generated content: every single one of The North Face’s top posts in the year so far has been a piece of user-generated content from either a fan or “team member.”

But which kind of Instagram content exactly is helping The North Face deliver on its reputation? I took a look at the brand’s most popular posts in 2015 thus far to find out.

Make the Scenery the Thing

The North Face avoids focusing on product in most of its successful Instagram posts.

Instead, the brand pours effort into curating fan photos which show off just how epic mother nature can be.

In this way, The North Face builds trust in its followers, forges intimacy with its Instagram audience, and avoids the too-salesy content which so often turns Instagram users off.

Especially the Sky

One commonality in The North Face’s most engaging posts: the big, beautiful, bodacious sky, whether by night or day.

“Life is exhausting if you do it right.” 📷: Fan @calsnape

A post shared by The North Face (@thenorthface) on

80% of The North Face’s most engaging posts in 2015 have prominently included the sky.

Give  Your Fans a Voice

The North Face not only features fan content: it includes the captions which originally went with the picture and tags the photo-taker.

This further cultivates The North Face’s identity as a curator and broadcaster for all the awesome exploration its fans are already doing, rather than a primary creator — a smart move for brand both brand discovery and quality content purposes.

Tag Your Team

The North Face tags both its explorers and its photo-takers in all the content it repurposes for its own Instagram account.

This is a fantastic method of fostering brand discovery and encouraging fans to post more photos.

Key Takeaways

1. Don’t use Instagram for salesy content.  The North Face knows that it won’t get far by trying to aggressively sell on Instagram — it’s neither the time nor the place, as my grandma used to say.

2. Experiment with curation. Instead of creating your own content, take a month and experiment with user-generated content, acting as a curating agent for the fans who love you instead of pushing out new content on your end.

3.  Find the common threads. Take a look at your most engaging posts for the year so far and figure out which visual elements your top-performing posts have in common with one another. Then double down on those.

4. Play around with quotes. Use quotations in your captions to give a stronger voice to pieces of user-generated content.

5. Tag folks. Both within your company and your fans. This will aid with discovery of your Instagram account and also encourage more interaction with the followers who already love you.

How will you implement The North Face’s content marketing lessons in your own strategy? Let me know in the comments below, and download our compete Instagram Strategy Kit below to learn more about marketing on Instagram.

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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