Instagram Marketing and Branding: “How Can International Companies Alter Their Marketing and Branding Activities on Instagram to Better Appeal to Customers?”

Sebastian Carelli

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of this study has been to examine how international companies can change and improve their marketing and branding activities on Instagram, resulting in the research question:
How can international companies alter their marketing and branding activities on Instagram to better appeal to customers?
As of today, social media is undoubtedly a trending topic, but what exactly is it and how does it affect companies’ opportunities to promote their products or services online? It was considered vital to begin this Thesis with a considerably large literature review on social media and several correlated concepts, to gain a broad overview and understanding of the phenomenon.
Three international companies from different industries (PurePharma, Nike, Levi’s) were analysed to address the research question. The conceptual framework chapter covered theories on branding, framing and cognitive behaviour. These theories, combined with the insights of the initial literature review as well as two previous studies with a similar research scope, ultimately resulted in the theoretical framework that the analysis would be based on. Following a two-sided content analysis, hundreds of the companies’ Instagram posts were examined.
The analysis provided several interesting findings. For instance, photos are by far the most common to upload, and tend to receive more likes and comments than videos. A likely explanation to this is the way in which we use Instagram; it is fast and instant, thus watching a video, even if just for a couple of seconds, might be perceived as too time consuming. Another noteworthy discovery was how the level of interaction with the consumers differed among the firms. Nike, who was not interacting with its followers in any of the posts assessed, tended to get more negative comments in general than the other two firms.
In sum, the findings of this Thesis indicate that marketing and branding on social media is a complex challenge, but comprises many opportunities for firms to seize. Not one single way to act and behave seems to exist; thus, every firm must find their unique approach to be successful on Instagram.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages123
SupervisorsSøren Henning Jensen