How to Be Good at Instagram

Today in Yes, We Know This Video Is a Couple of Weeks Old News: We just checked out Casey Neistat’s nearly viral “Instagram I Love You” short, and we think he may be onto something (other than the fact that Rick Ross is kind of a badass).

In summary: Neistat thinks Instagram has the potential to dominate the social media scene by combining the best of Facebook and Twitter without either of those platforms’ most annoying traits (an overabundance of useless data, text without pictures, etc.).

Here’s the most important lesson we took from the short: Instagram beats Twitter and Facebook by empowering its users to tell a story instead of simply sharing random things they “like” or taking photos of their faces from every possible angle (sorry, Bieber). The fact that Instagram users are more “engaged” than Tweeters backs this theory up.

So who, besides Rick Ross, does Instagram right? And what are the keys to making the most of one’s account?

Well, the most celebrated celebrity ‘grammers (we just made that up) tend to combine updates on their various projects with helpful “value-added” content like Zooey Deschanel’s many inspiring examples of nail art.

The brands that win Instagram are, again, more interactive: The best example of a successful Instagram project to date, according to Business Insider, was a “Photo Walk” event planned by socially responsible eyeglass retailer/Mediabistro Social Media Boot Camp participant Warby Parker. The company encouraged fans to show up, have some free drinks, and document a walk from the company’s headquarters to its sponsored party on the rooftop of the Gansevoort Hotel–it was a fairly simple shared moment. Some called the idea “too gimmicky”, but if fans were willing to participate then we don’t see why that would be true. We should also mention that free alcohol is (almost) never a bad thing.

Starbucks offers another solid, if somewhat generic, example of doing Instagram right: The company page’s “cups of coffee in context” theme makes for endless photo possibilities.

So tell us, PR pros: How do you plan your Instagram strategy—for both your own company and those of your clients? What’s the best way to ensure that your accounts amount to more than just random streams of throwaway photos?

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.