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Building Brands

How 21 top wellness brands win on Instagram (and what you can learn from them)

August 03, 2022 · 7 min read

The wellness market is worth an estimated $1.5-trillion — that kind of valuation draws enormous competition. With nearly 1.5-billion monthly active users, Instagram (IG) is one of the top channels for brands looking to engage with their audience and stay ahead of competitors.

“Wellness brand” was a reference for companies selling fitness and nutrition products. Now, the term is evolving to a more holistic view of young consumers. Furthermore, research from McKinsey says consumers view wellness brands as any company offering products or services around fitness, nutrition, health, appearance, sleep, and mindfulness. 

Scrambling to find all the answers to take your Instagram to the next level? Here’s a TL;DR

  • With a net worth of 1.5 trillion in the wellness market and 1.5 billion IG users per month, your chances of generating success on Instagram are more than likely.

  • Rather than vanity metrics, lean on Later’s formula to generate high engagement on IG:

  1. Use all content formats to reach new audiences

  2. Convert viewers to followers

  3. Engage your followers through community

  • Here are the 5 most popular categories wellness brands are posting on IG:

  1. Product giveaway posts

  2. Reels that tell stories

  3. UGC content from customers and influencers 

  4. Cross-promotional content 

  5. Highlights showcasing archives stories

  • Take advantage of the variety of sharing capabilities to expand your brand on Instagram: Contextual feeds, Shopping, Reels, Guides, Stories, Instagram Direct, and Notes

What does “Insta success” look like to a wellness brand?

You may be happy with the thousands of followers, hundreds of posts, and the pretty blue checkmark next to your handle, but those are not the elements that equate to “insta success.”

In other words, it’s time to control-alt-delete vanity metrics — the measurements that make your insta look good to others yet don't help your performance.

Organic likes, comments, and shares paint a vivid picture of your brand's relationship with its target audience. In fact, social media experts agree that an engagement rate between 1-5% is strong, but this is due to many actions, including likes, comments, shares, saves, and DMs.

Some folks may scroll through your page for 10 seconds and think it looks great. But that alone doesn’t mean you’ve passed the engagement test. Instead, build off of Later’s formula for Instagram success. As a result, you’ll: 

  1. Reach new audiences by using all content formats

  2. Convert viewers to followers

  3. Engage your followers to create a community    

Instagram success: 5 gems from wellness brands

The booming wellness market provides the perfect opportunity to assess the most effective Instagram strategies for each of the 3 stages listed above.

Below is a color-coded map that correlates with the following chart of the 21 top wellness brands. They are sorted based on their number of followers. From sharing user-generated content (UGC) to cross-promotion posts that generate high engagement, these reputable brands know a thing or two about success on Instagram.  

In the above chart, you can see how the majority of the brands publish similar types of content. This allows you to see the diversity of the  5 types of content. Next, let’s dig into the deets on how they share each type of content. As a result, you’ll take your brand’s engagement and credibility to the next level.

1. 100x your post-exposure with product giveaways

29% of Wellness Brands studied actively use product giveaways to drive new followers & engagement 

Raffle-style giveaways receive the most interaction (comments/shares) of any Instagram content. 

By encouraging followers to enter a giveaway, companies gain a  massive boost in social sharing and brand exposure. This is all at the expense of a few hours of work and one product package.

For example, brands who leverage giveaway posts, like Sun Potion and Prose, generate more comments and shares than their other posts.

2. Capitalize on the TikTok hype with Reels

62% of Wellness Brands studied actively use Reels to drive engagement on Instagram. 

If a picture can tell a thousand words, imagine what you can tell with a 90-second clip. Think about how long it takes to digest a still image. Our guess is that a *scroll, pause, like, scroll* action takes about 7 seconds.

But a 90-second reel? Those are long enough to share your brand’s story without viewers reading long captions. They’re also short enough to keep viewers interested.  

Since Instagram's Reel launch, its algorithm has pushed short-form video content in response to consumer content preferences.

Now, we all know Reels are inspired (to put it nicely) by TikTok’s entire premise — quick videos that educate or entertain. OG IG has no shame and has even gone to the extent of discouraging reports of TikToks on their platform.

However, the TikTok format of UGC video content + trending songs/dances is perfect for companies looking to make their branding relatable to a tech-savvy audience.

We noticed a trend when we analyzed Four Sigmatic’s IG account (#2 on our chart). The majority of their recent posts were Instagram Reels. These posts resonated well with their audience garnering 41,000+ views across four different reels: 

To take a closer peek at their radiant content and how they use Reels to produce consistent engagement, check out their platform here.  

2. UGC is the ultimate social proof

38% of Wellness Brands studied regularly post UGC from customers and influencers on their accounts. 

Consumers have always been skeptical of advertising, but the digital era allows people to cut through marketing BS in a few clicks. This is especially true in the wellness industry, where claims about health benefits don’t always pan out, and customers are quick to call people out.

Rather than relying on reviews, your target audience can rely on UGC to clearly see how your product works in real life. Having existing customers and influencers who willingly represent your product speaks volumes and adds credibility to your brand overall.

Sharing social proof from satisfied customers is a reliable and cost-effective way for any brand to build out its bona fides. 

Between Reels and posts, the protective skincare brand, Supergoop (#13 on our chart) uses the UGC approach perfectly. Their feed is full of videos and pictures from influencers and customers to show exactly how their sunblock works for all skin types, even mini-mes. 

Overall, UGC content is an effective way for you to show, not tell, on your Instagram platform. 

4. Community building isn’t just about customers

33% of Wellness Brands studied actively engage in cross-promotion with other brands/influencers to grow their partnership community. 

Audience development is obviously mission-critical to brand success, but this doesn’t just mean your consumers.

Brand-influencer collaborations are a staple of Instagram marketing, but brand partnerships are also effective.

Whether with influencers or brands, taking advantage of collaborations on Instagram is a powerful way to quickly boost brand awareness. Leaning on established individuals who already have a strong target audience of folks who like and trust them allows you to work smarter, not harder. 

Additionally, the most essential part of collaboration is finding the perfect brand/influencer that aligns with your organization’s values.

For example, health tracking wearable brand Oura Ring (#10 on our chart) partners with athletes and luxury brands likeGucci. This helps build their brand and enhance their engagement. Oura Ring shares creative product Reels on Instagram to draw attention to the successful cross-promotion between them and Gucci — a health-focused ring that meets luxury accessories.

If you’re looking for an ideal partner to collaborate with, Instagram now has features that will help your brand connect with preferred partners and content creators.

5. Get new followers up to speed with highlights

100% of Wellness Brands studied use highlights to capitalize on popular archived stories. 57% of them have over 10 different highlight sections.

Instagram’s highlight feature allows brands and influencers to curate stories from users and their internal teams, turning them into archives of rich content. They can be sorted to showcase product use cases, curate common questions/concerns from customers, share testimonials, and create learning hubs.

Wellness brand Canopy (#20 on our chart) is a clean and easy-to-use humidifier that lets us know there’s no limit to how many sections to highlight on your IG. From showing press, reviews, brand collaborations, product-specific mentions, and more, Canopy uses Instagram Highlights to share a variety for visitors to easily capture all the essential information they need to know.

When all is said and done, Instagram Highlights are an excellent, low-effort way of reusing stories that have worked with audiences previously and allow you to keep relevant information at the forefront for your brand.

How any brand can expand with Instagram

Instagram has come a long way since the early days of chronological feeds and the explore page.

The platform has a laundry list of content formats to help brands at any step of their Instagram success journey. For example, Contextual Feeds, Shopping, Reels, Guides, Stories, Instagram Direct, Notes, and their team probably have new potential features cookin’ in the kitchen.

While wellness brands are having their heyday on the platform, this social media staple is an effective marketing channel for any DTC brand. 

Check out our newsletter, On Brand, for insights and interviews with brands thriving on social media!

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