Best Brands on Social Media: 10 Inspiring Examples to Follow

October 25, 2023 9 min read

Alex Doan

Alex Doan

Best Brands on Social Media

If you think social media is just a digital marketing fad for brands to drive engagement, pause for a moment.

With nearly 5 billion active users across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok, social media platforms connect top brands, and their adoption continues to grow.

Social media usage trends (via Datareportal)
Social media usage trends (via Datareportal)

Social media marketing is one of the key marketing tactics for business owners to drive brand awareness among their target audience and boost sales.

The only downside? Managing social media can be overwhelming, especially for small businesses trying to build their brand and get more customer reviews.

Here, we’ll look at several examples from the best brands on social media. We’ll break down their strategies to uncover easy and actionable tips to win over your audience’s hearts and minds.

Nike: Inspiring Real-Life GOATS

Nike is a social media marketing legend, boasting over 400 million followers across various social networks. The iconic shoe brand excels at highlighting the authenticity of professional athletes, offering its audience a glimpse into their daily lives. 

Such content resonates with Nike’s audience, making it relatable and helping the brand ignite social media conversations.

Here are some examples of content Nike typically posts to spark engagement:

  • Sharing behind-the-scenes content. Nike shares photos and video content of athletes training, warming up, or just hanging out with their teammates, giving fans a glimpse into athletes’ real lives.
  • Featuring athletes from all walks of life. Nike’s social media doesn’t solely focus on big names; it also spotlights athletes from diverse backgrounds — both students and professionals. This content instills confidence in fans, assuring them that anyone can achieve their dreams.
  • Telling stories of resilience and perseverance. Nike athletes are celebrated for overcoming adversity and achieving remarkable feats. The brand reinforces these tales on social media to inspire followers to never give up on their aspirations.

Nike embraces a “show vs. tell” strategy in its social media campaigns, solidifying customers’ trust in its products by illustrating how they play a pivotal role in their journey to becoming better athletes and individuals.

A screenshot of Nike's Instagram page showing how it uses inspiring stories from athletes to connect to its audience
Inspiring active lifestyle (via Instagram)

GoPro: Promoting User-Generated Content

GoPro curates and shares its customers’ best photos and eye-catching videos captured with GoPro cameras. New customers can experience firsthand how GoPro captures high-quality, engaging content without much photographer intervention.

This tactic attracts adventure enthusiasts who can’t handle bulky equipment but want to capture high-quality images outdoors. Think about taking pictures while kayaking or rafting. How can you manage the equipment when both hands are in use? Just GoPro!

A screenshot from GoPro's Instagram showing a curated and eye-catching customer video
The ease of capturing every adventurous moment (via Instagram)

Besides user-generated content (UGC), GoPro also produces videos of extreme athletes in-house to keep its social media content thriving. These videos are less than a minute long, making them ideal for Instagram stories and tweets. They’re also easy to share and garner 2.5 times more social media engagement than longer videos.

The video marketing strategy by GoPro is definitely one to take note of.

Netflix: Creating Pop Culture Trends

Netflix is one of the best brands on and off social media. It leads with quirky pop culture trends and funny memes that appeal to millennials. The powerhouse brand responds to the interests and values of this demographic, making it likable, relatable, and popular.

Netflix’s social team is quite active and personable. For example, they regularly post memes from popular Netflix shows or movies and create quizzes or polls asking followers to share their opinions on their favorite characters or storylines. Interactive content keeps Netflix top of mind and makes it fun for followers to engage with its content.

Netflix's Instagram post with a meme from a popular Netflix show
Netflix audience loves #memeified content (via Instagram)

Starbucks: Hand-Crafting Social Media Stories

Starbucks, a coffee giant, boasts a strong presence with nearly 60 million followers across all social media platforms. The brand regularly shares compelling content that showcases its commitment to sustainability. It highlights new menu items, introduces the coffee farmers it partners with, and emphasizes its focus on sustainability.

Starbucks also frequently shares fun facts, coffee tips, and behind-the-scene shots of how its drinks are made to educate its target audience and build brand loyalty. 

A Starbucks Instagram post showing behind-the-scene shots of the farmers that supply its coffee beans
Recognizing the real “coffee-champions” and inspiring authenticity (via Instagram)

Storytelling is evident throughout Starbucks’ tweets and Instagram posts:

  • A video of a barista making a latte with foam art.
  • A photo of a coffee tree with a caption explaining how coffee beans are grown.
  • A video of a Starbucks employee visiting a coffee farm in Guatemala.
  • A behind-the-scenes look at Starbucks’ coffee bean roasting process.
  • A fun fact about the history of coffee.
  • A coffee tip on how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home.

A more ethical and credible brand naturally attracts everyday brand ambassadors.

Dove: Championing the Brand Purpose

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is an excellent example of connecting social media initiatives with a brand purpose.

The brand consistently promotes body positivity and self-esteem across all its social media channels, including its YouTube channel. It has attracted millions of followers and has established itself as a socially conscious beauty brand.

Dove’s marketing campaigns resonate deeply with its target audience because they are authentic, uplifting, and mission-driven. The brand doesn’t just sell personal care products—it champions the message of self-acceptance and empowerment.

A Dove Twitter post furthering the message of self-acceptance and empowerment.
Every color is beautiful (via X)

Observing how Dove uses the same marketing tools as everyone else provides inspiration for standing out in a crowded market.

The takeaway? Identify your core purpose and align your social media strategy with that purpose. When brands share authentic and meaningful content that aligns with customers’ values, they foster a culture of trust and connection.

Airbnb: Spotlighting Authentic Experiences

Traveling in the post-pandemic era is all about experience-based adventures. People are eager to explore the world and create lasting memories. Airbnb leverages social media to showcase the unique experiences, exotic locales, and exceptional superhosts its platform provides.

Airbnb’s marketing strategy places a strong emphasis on storytelling. This leading brand shares authentic testimonials and vacation tales that promote exclusivity and drive demand across social media platforms. 

The novel marketing campaign helps Airbnb connect with its audience on a deeper level, fostering trust. By highlighting the platform’s unique experiences and diverse offerings, Airbnb draws in new users and inspires them to travel.

An airbnb Instagram post showcasing a new experience in Japan
Unique and authentic experiences to not miss out (via Instagram)

Unlike many tech and e-commerce giants, Airbnb doesn’t host a podcast. Instead, brand ambassadors frequently share their experiences as homeowners and investors — a distinctive approach to conversations about the brand.

National Geographic: Inspiring Through Breathtaking Visuals

With over 300 million followers across social platforms, National Geographic has perfected the art of delivering inspirational and educational content.

Their Instagram account is a prime example, showcasing stunning wildlife photography, unreal landscapes, and captivating creature close-ups. However, its informative and engaging captions truly set Nat Geo apart.

Nat Geo’s captions are not mere descriptions of the photos. They provide context, history, and scientific insights. They also narrate stories about the featured animals and places and often pose questions to ignite curiosity and discussion.

For instance, a recent post on Nat Geo’s Instagram account had the following caption:

An example of a Nat Geo caption providing context, history, and scientific insights into the wildlife
A moment of peace in the African savanna (via Instagram)

National Geographic masterfully balances text and video content, illustrating how nature is a complex and fascinating place full of amazing relationships between different species. This also serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet and its wildlife.

The 135-year-old company has certainly embraced TikTok to connect with a younger and more diverse audience. With over three million TikTok followers eagerly consuming its educational content, it stands out as one of the top brands to follow on social media.

OREO: Being Clever and Timely

When it comes to social media content, OREO takes the crown for its clever, creative, and timely posts. The brand knows how to align its content with culturally relevant moments, grabbing followers’ attention at the perfect time.

For instance, during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, OREO posted a witty tweet that read, “You can still dunk in the dark.” It went viral, generating millions of impressions.

Oreos famous tweet posted on Twitter, now X.
A dunk that makes life a little bit sweeter & trendier (via X)

This move is now known as the “OREO moment” among social media marketers, often cited as an example of a top brand successfully leveraging an opportunistic event unfolding in real time.

Since then, OREO has also utilized its social media presence to promote new products and flavors in unique and engaging ways. For instance, a recent post highlighted the Barbie phenomenon.

For a cookie that’s been around since 1912, OREO does a phenomenal job of cutting through the marketing noise and achieving exceptional brand loyalty. 

Wendy’s: Throwing Friendly Shade

Wendy’s social media team has fully embraced its role as sassy social media experts. Their Twitter account is renowned for its humorous, biting responses to follower comments and feisty jabs at competitors.

When a follower asked Wendy’s to describe their food in three words, they responded with “Never frozen beef.”

They also tactically called out the “missing beef” from McDonald’s recent marketing campaigns, a key ingredient that helps Wendy’s stand out.

Wendys on Twitter: Where's the Beef?
Wendy’s beefing it up (via X)

Wendy’s isn’t afraid to poke fun. Their distinct, irreverent tone shines through and gets people talking, driving brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Not every small business owner should emulate Wendy’s, but they should consider the attitudes and interests of their target audience. For instance, having fun safely is central to the Phat Rides customer experience. 

Wayfair: Educating and Inspiring

Wayfair is more than just a home goods retailer. Their social media tutorials teach followers how to transform a house into a home. With DIY hacks and insightful tips on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, they cover topics ranging from design trends and seasonal decorating to organizing small spaces and offering cleaning advice.

Wayfair also prominently curates and promotes UGC, showcasing innovative ways customers have styled their products in their homes. These inspirational visuals garner numerous likes and pins, contributing significantly to Wayfair’s $12 billion annual revenue.

Wayfair showcasing innovative ways customers have styled their products in their homes
Your home is where your heart is (via Instagram)

How Small Businesses Can Win on Social Media

To implement social media strategies on a large scale, you need resources that many small businesses may not have. So, what can they do to adopt the strategies that big brands follow to up their social game?

  • Try influencer marketing. Collaborate with nano or micro-influencers (10,000–100,000 engaged followers) in your niche to increase your reach and credibility.
  • Spotlight UGC. Encourage your followers to tag you in social content featuring your products. Then, repost these photos and videos to boost credibility and build brand trust
  • Follow trends. Use key events like holidays, film and television releases, viral music scores, and more to craft branded social media content that catches the trend wave and engages your audience.
  • Educate and inspire. Post tips, fun facts, and behind-the-scenes content that offers value beyond promotions.
  • Perfect your brand voice. Develop a consistent brand personality that reflects your style and values; social media posts should “feel” like your company.

Consistency, quality content, and engagement are key to building a thriving social community that grows with your business.

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Defy Convention to Ace the Social Space

Becoming a top brand on social media begins and ends with consistency, high-quality content, and aligning your interests with those of your audience. It’s more than just using the right hashtag or engaging trendy influencers.

Small businesses need to challenge conformity.

For your target audience to see your brand, remember it, and even talk about it, you have to take chances to stand out. Sometimes, this means being passionately committed to customer success or highlighting a problem that needs to be addressed.

Other times, it’s about ensuring your social media content doesn’t just feel like a marketing campaign but is entertaining, inspiring, or refreshingly honest. 

Related: Noteworthy Social Media Trends for Business Growth

Alex Doan


Alex Doan

Alex Doan is an experienced senior marketing professional specializing in propelling growth for both B2B and B2C companies. Proficient in streamlining marketing operations for seamless sales transitions, utilizing analytics and consumer insights to achieve measurable outcomes. Committed to enhancing lead and customer experiences through effective journey mapping.

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