Driving Engagement And Growth: Nike's Success With Instagram accounts globally.

March 20, 2024

Nike needs no introduction, particularly among the onlinecommunity. With a current following of 179 million on Instagram, it hasachieved a place among the Top 20 most-followed Instagram accounts globally. Even if we exclude celebrities and Instagram, Nike is the second most followedbrand after National Geographic. Thus, Nike is at the top of its game when itcomes to Instagram marketing.

This dominance in social mediamarketing is not a mere coincidence but the result of a well-thought-out moveto implement a digital-first strategy. This digital shift traces its originback to 2017 when the then Nike CEO Mark Parker announced reducing thedistribution partners from 30,000+ to a dramatic low of 40. This was a majordigital transformation push that was called the “triple-doublestrategy”. It primarily focused on doubling on innovation, speed to market,and direct connection points to customers over the next five years. The movewas a great success. Nike originally targeted an increase of 33% indirect-to-consumer sales by 2022, which it achieved in 2019 and kept growingfurther.

So what did Nike dowith Instagram that gave it such success? Let us start by takinga look at Nike's presence on Instagram.  

Growthtrend on follower base and posts shared

A simple way to understand Nike'sgrowing influence online is to see how its follower base has evolved over theyears. Nike’s follower base has increased linearly with the volume of contentshared. As of October 2021, Nike has close to 1.8M followers which is a staggering45% growth from the previous year. Nike has a content calendar and asocial media team that runs like well-oiled machinery, and yet alwaysprioritizes quality over quantity. A very valuable lesson for brands andcontent creators keen on posting everyday.

Nike’scontinuous growth In Follower Base on Instagram

Multipleaccounts with distinct identities

Nike operates multiple secondaryhandles in addition to one official handle, @nike. Each of these has a distinctidentity and caters to a different audience. Some of the most popular ones are@nikewomen, @nikesportswear, @nikenyc, @nikefootball, @nikerunning, @nikesb(Skateboarding), etc. This helps Nike cater to its consumers according to theirlocation, sports preferences, or events and show posts that they prefer.Customization of content is the most powerful weapon digital has offered yet.And Nike knows it well. 

Reachingdifferent segments with distinct identities and messaging

Endorsements& Community building

Nike has been associated with someiconic sports persons as its ambassadors like Roger Federer, LeBron James,Michael Jordan, and Christiano Ronaldo. Their legendary association withMichael Jordan resulted in Air Jordan which is now 34 years old and stillremains a successful and premium brand. By putting the face of some of thegreat players on its products, Nike has rightly earned the leadership positionthat the other sports brands look up to.

Nike has leveraged its starinfluencers potential effectively and built an engaged community around it. Ithas used the best athletes asan inspiration for millions worldwide andbolstered its brand image. Same strategy that Nike used all through the yearsbut with augmenting it with the power of the Influencer's social mediafollowing. 

Standingfor relatable social causes

True, Nike is arguably the world’sbiggest sportswear brand in the world. But, there is more to its success andlarge-scale following on Instagram, which encompasses celebrities, activists,politicians, and everyone in-between. Nike has positioned the brand as not justthe one empowering athletes but also standing for social causes affectingvarious sections of society. 

In 2018, Nike launched anadvertising campaign around #BlackLivesMatter with American football star ColinKaepernick with one of the boldest ever captions "Believe insomething. Even if it means sacrificing everything". Consumers hailedthe brave move, and a move that would have generally been considered too riskyfor a consumer brand, resulted in a sudden spurt in sales. Nike even cameforward to condemn racism and called out a series of attacks on the AsianAmerican community through its #StopAsianHate campaign. Nike promptedconversations on such important and sensitive topics positioning itself beyondjust a commercial entity and into the realms of a moral entity that peoplewould feel proud to associate themselves with.

Nike’s run to success on Instagramis a combination of well thought out strategy, bold positioning, andbest-in-class execution. Both in the physical world and definitely onInstagram.