Nike are the 19th most followed Instagram account with 32.3m followers. If you exclude celebrities, they have the second most followers after National Geographic. They also have the 5th most used hashtag (#nike). According to a survey consisting of brands and agencies conducted by the IAB UK, they were also voted second as the brand that ‘do social media particularly well’.

Instagram now has more than 400 million users. 75% of those live outside the US and among the last 100 million to join, more than half are from Europe and Asia.

It is no wonder brands are investing in this platform and investing they are. According to a report from Emarketer, Instagram will generate $595 million in mobile ad revenue, predicted to rise to $2.81bn by 2017.

It is especially good for commerce brands but works well for other too.

So what are Nike doing that makes them so successful on Instagram?

Type of content Nike post on Instagram

Nike posts a mixture of different type of content. From celebrity photo shoots through to products. They also post both still images and animated images or videos. Now not everyone has the luxury of celebrity endorsement and access to some of the biggest events but these should provide you with ideas for your own Instagram marketing.

I have picked some of their recent examples below:


People love sharing event photos. Granted Nike has access to some of the biggest events, but I’m sharing the different types of photo’s they have to provide ideas for your own Instagram marketing. If you attend events especially fashion or cuisine related, this would be a good opportunity to get some snaps for Instagram.

It takes more than one star to bring home your third. #nomaybes

A photo posted by nike (@nike) on


Nike wants to make money as does every other brand. However the key to note is Instagram is a visual medium, posting boring static product images will not work. Notice how Nike are promoting their products but they do it alongside good visuals.

Here is another example, their product is promoted using good creative visuals. If you were to take away the Nike trainers, the image is still visually good enough to share on its own.

A sunset is not a stop sign. @nikesverige

A photo posted by nike (@nike) on

And it’s not just still images, here is an example of an animated image that promotes their products but still looks good enough to share.


Nike focus on relevant and topical subjects. Specific days that everyone is talking about and add their own Nike flavour to it. Take the below for Skateboarding Day for example, they used a current event that a large community of people would talk about. As you can see there is no Nike logo on the sole of the shoes is so subtle, you barley notice it.

It doesn’t matter when you start. It matters if you keep going. #goskateboardingday

A photo posted by nike (@nike) on

Good Visuals

Nike post a lot of pictures that visually stunning, which is what Instagram users want to see. Below are a few examples of these.

Why walk on water when you can fly? #askwhatif

A photo posted by nike (@nike) on

It's not always sunshine and sand. #justdoit

A photo posted by nike (@nike) on

It's a fence. Not a finish line. #justdoit

A photo posted by nike (@nike) on

Most liked post

Nike’s most liked post is food related. This one is really creative. Breakfast made of Nike branded trainer footprints, targeting both lovers of Nike and foodies.

Key Takeaways

1. Be visually creative

Instagram is a visual medium. You have to create visually exciting images. There is no point in creating dull images. Just look at how creative Nike’s most shared post is. Aim for a really good visual image and then add your product if necessary.

2. Plan ahead

You need to plan well in advance. Especially if you wish to be relevant. You need to know when specific days/events (think Skateboarding Day above) occur so you can make the most of them and not end up rushing with your content. A content calender will certainly help here.

3. Advertise products in the Instagram way

After all, you want to sell. Putting bland product images will not work. If you want to focus on the product, try to think of aspirations. For example a luxury watch retailer could show someone dressed really well in a luxury setting as the person looking for a luxury watch will aspire to be in that situation.

4. Involve your audience

Nike asked their audience to share their Nike images and Nike shared these on their Instagram feed. Most people love the opportunity to be shared by a brand with millions of followers, it also provides Nike with tons of marketing collateral. Win/Win. Of course you could also try and reach out to influencers.

5. Don’t forget about the caption

The majority of Nike’s captions are motivational or inspirational, they are on brand for Nike. Stay on brand with your captions and use them to enhance the visual. Also do not forget to include hashtags, Nike are fortunate as they have their own, but it is not difficult to find relevant and popular hashtags for your own captions.

For more tips you can read Instagram For Brands: Best Practices.

I would love to hear your tips or share your own instagram experiences in the comment section below.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Part time news writer at Fourth Source.