Instagram success: how Aston Martin and Unilever get it right

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A close look at the techniques Aston Martin and Unilever use to drive engagement on Instagram.

Instagram success is a marketing holy grail for many brands, and Aston Martin and Unilever get it right - with very different strategies. In this article we show how they do it, which one does it better, and how their success can help you build your brand on Instagram.

Measuring Instagram success

To see just how good these two brands are, let's start with total likes generated by video posts. From January to June 2021, Unilever got 1,254,232 video likes and Aston Martin got 797,467. That's about 96,000 and 30,000 likes a week respectively, by far the most successful of the 50 UK brands we track.

But that's where the similarities end.

Their brand assets are very different. As a luxury brand, Aston Martin could not be further from Unilever's huge range of consumer goods. This shows in their 10.1 million followers, 71 times as many as Unilever's 141k. (In this analysis we only looked at global group accounts, not sub-brands.)

Instagram video

Unilever's strategy is driven by frequency and purpose. They posted 78 videos in H1 2021, which works out at six per week and is more than any other brand in our 50. Posting videos regularly is essential for generating engagement for brands.

Frequent posting is great but it's not all that's needed. Consistent, purpose-driven messaging is vital too, as your audience gets to know your brand and identifies with its values. Unilever's purpose - to make sustainable living commonplace - is all about taking action on issues they care about. It shines through in almost all their videos.

Aston Martin's big following and exclusive brand appeal allow them to post less video (only 18 in H1), reflecting the scarcity value of their product. Aston Martin's product is its purpose and their videos simply show the product in action. The engine roar is an essential part of many of their videos.

Unilever have another secret in their video toolbox.

Blockbuster videos

For all their Instagram success, most of Unilever's videos only generate a few hundred likes each. The key to their huge total engagement is their blockbusters.

Just five of the 78 videos attracted over 80% of Unilever's 1.2 million likes in H1 2021. You can click the play buttons below to watch them, Instagram login needed.

By contrast, Aston Martin's videos were in a consistent range. All but one attracted between 16k and 87k likes and the remaining video, 'Own the open road', got 244,103 likes and 1,438,214 views.

Is there a winner?

Yes. There's no doubt Unilever work their video marketing assets harder on Instagram and get even stronger results than Aston Martin.

The most revealing metric is the number of video likes per follower. This measures video effectiveness regardless of follower count, and Unilever's 5.8 likes per follower in Q2 is more than 100 times higher than Aston Martin's.

Unilever focus their video strategy on a core message and find multiple ways to express it with creative, eye-catching video. Their frequent video posts mean there's always fresh, high quality content, and the volume increases the chances of some of them going viral.

Unilever's reward is a highly engaged audience that likes the brand's video regularly. That's a strategy that works.

Here's how your brand can get similar results.

Four steps for Instagram success

It doesn't matter what your product is. Good video triggers emotional reactions that support a narrative for any product or service.

Keep at it. To build your Instagram following and engagement, post video frequently. This applies to other channels too, on social media and internal communications.

Find every angle. Identify your brand narrative, then use creative video production to tell your story from all perspectives.

Track your improvement. It's essential to set a benchmark for your brand, competitors and industry. A benchmark gives you essential tools for content ideas, measuring what works and demonstrating ROI. Click the button for a free benchmark that you can build on.

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For a deeper dive into how UK brands use video on Instagram and LinkedIn, download a free copy of The Benchmark.

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