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There are now 77 million Instagram users in the United States, 35% of whom access the app more than once a day to explore aspirational content posted by friends, brands, and the platform’s biggest Instagram influencers (Search Engine Watch). Fitness enthusiasts and brands have become particularly popular with audiences, and no digital star is better at engaging with and inspiring social media followers than Kayla Itsines.
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Kayla Itsines is a 24-year-old personal trainer from Adelaide, Australia who became an online sensation after creating a 12-week workout program called Bikini Body Guide in 2014. Since then, the fitness enthusiast has earned over five million Instagram followers by posting fitness- and dieting-related tips, inspirational messages, and powerful “before and after” user-generated photos (UCG) from social media followers who have benefitted from her advice.
In addition to cultivating a large social media following, Itsines’ recently launched a popular iOS and Android app, Sweat With Kayla, which generated the most revenue among all fitness apps this year (besting similar fitness apps from Nike and MyFitnessPal), and was selected as one of Time’s “30 most influential people on the internet” (Bloomberg, Time). Itsines’ success has also led to partnerships with Apple and an Adidas-sponsored global Sweat Tour (Pop Sugar).
There are several lessons that brands can learn from Kayla Itsines’ Instagram success. When it comes to marketing on Instagram, branded content should attempt to:
In marketing, it is important to understand a consumer’s specific pain-points. While most of the world’s biggest Instagram influencers understand that women want to lose weight, Itsines leveraged her years of experience as a personal trainer to create a guide that directly related to her audience’s needs and goals.
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With countless brands fighting for attention online, it is now more important for brands to stay visible and relevant; one effective way to do so is by posting content on a regular basis. Itsines publishes multiple Instagram posts each day and always varies her content to keep audiences interested.
A recent study revealed that user-generated content (UGC) is 20% more effective at influencing Millennials’ purchasing decisions and 35% more memorable than other forms of media (Mashable). Itsines’ Instagram success can be attributed, at least in part, to her use of inspirational UGC and branded hashtags (#BBG, #KaylasArmy, #deathbykayla) to create an organic sense of trust and social media buzz around her social media content.