Nikes. Sneakers. Jordans. Kicks. Boots. Yeezys. Whatever your favorite shoes are, they are a multi-billion dollar and worldwide industry. From those first Nikes made in a waffle iron to the most coveted Yeezys or Air Jordans, the conversation around sneakers has come a long way. They have evolved from just a simple utilitarian athletic good to a worldwide cultural and fashion phenomenon, that literally has its own stock exchange. Even high fashion designers are creating their own lines of sneakers with the traditional brands. And the drivers behind a significant part of this growth are the sneaker collectors, sometimes referred to as SneakerHeads.
The sneakerhead trend traces its roots to the original Air Jordans in the 1980’s. It grew from there to a worldwide subculture in the next decade and has become almost mainstream in recent years. Now celebrities and normal people have massive collections of sneakers worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in their closet. They’ve even taken over one of our favorite social networks, Instagram, and have helped sneaker photography become an art form of its own.
Instagram is the place for the casual sneaker lover and real sneaker collector to coexist (I am no sneakerhead but I still can enjoy the design behind a great pair of shoes). Plus, the visual nature of the Instagram made it easy to amass followers and influence for the hardcore collectors. Some accounts like SneakerNews have more than 5 million followers and are posting multiple times per day. Those posts feature shoes across brands like Nike and Adidas, to even a few Vans.
<img src="https://venngage-wordpress.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2016/06/Sneakerhead-Closet.png" alt="Infographic: Startup Name Mind Map | Venngage" /> See this on <a href="https://venngage.com/blog/startup-name-infographic">Venngage Infographics</a>.
Use the embed code above to post this infographic on your own site, but please attribute!
Which sneakers do sneakerheads go crazy for?
But like any collectible, some brands and types are more coveted than others. And Instagram gave us the perfect medium to find which shoes were the ultimate. We started this investigation by finding about 50 of the top sneakerhead accounts across Instagram, and narrowing it down to 10 perfect accounts. Those we selected had a great blend of followers, backgrounds and people actually doing the posting. The accounts we studied were: snkrhds, sneakersnstuff, sneakersjeansts, sneakerroom, sneakerpolitics, SneakerNews, sneakerfreakermag, livestockcanada, kicksonfire and Kicks. If you’re a sneakerhead, be sure to follow them all!
After selecting the top 10 accounts, we cataloged exactly 50 of each account’s most recent posts. The traditional date, likes and comments of each Instagram post were also recorded. Additionally, we not only recorded the brand and type of shoe, we also looked at the color makeup of each shoe. (Unsurprisingly the neutral colors like black, white and gray were the most popular colors for shoes.) And now with 500 sneaker posts from the past few months, we felt confident that we had enough data to crown a winner of Instagram.
Based strictly on mentions, Nike blew the other brands out of the water with 41% of posts. Ranging from the new Nike Kobe 11s to the updated classic in the Nike Air Force Ones. When you include Air Jordan, a Nike subsidiary, the domination increases to 54% of posts. The mortal enemy of Nike, Adidas, was only able to muster 17% of posts; and that even included the massively popular and expensive Yeezy Boosts, which made up about a fourth of the posts. Even when we look at average likes per post, those featuring Nike had a few thousand more likes than Adidas.
ASICS and New Balance, which are starting to become serious players in the sneakerhead game, pulled 9% and 6%, respectively. But the most surprising thing we found in this study was that no one cares about Under Armour. Out of all 500 posts, there were only nine that mentioned Under Armour, and most were because of the NBA finals. With Under Armour’s and Nike’s golden children in Steph and Lebron, going through seven games of intense battle. Honestly, every Under Armour mention were about the Currys.
We also decided to take it just a bit further and find the most mentioned shoe from each brand. My favorite casual shoes, the ASISC Gel-Lyte III, lead the pack. Included with each most mentioned shoe is their average price from StockX and the growth from its original retail price. The Yeezy Boosts own that category, having grown 778% from their original retail price of around $350 to over $3,000. Like I said, sneakers are a serious business.
While we scoured through the hundreds of Instagram posts we also decided to take some notes. Let it be known that these are just observations that we made. Some are not very insightful but they all are incredibly actionable.
Use professional photos
Almost every single post that we studied looked like it was taken by a professional photographer. It was not just the image quality of the pictures, but the way they were set up. The lighting, composition and setting were all pretty unique and fit the shoe they were featuring, instead of looking like they were ripped off the Nike or Adidas site. They were not only sneakers, they were art.
Be timely or relevant
As we touched on above, the NBA Finals were happening right in the midst of our study. This gave the IG accounts many opportunities to engage with followers they may not have in the past. It also brought in a whole new stream of content to post. Your brand may not have something as big as the NBA Finals, but content focusing on a conference or business event can work just as well!
Include a call to action
This is incredibly effective, no matter what your Instagram account is about. If you want more followers, ask them to tag a friend who would like the post. If you’re looking for more unique content, have them use a hashtag for brand mentions like snkrhds does below.
And if you want more visitors to your website, follow what Sneaker News has been doing. Our favorites have been outlined in red for your convenience.
Use every relevant hashtag you can
The maximum number of hashtags that each post can have now is 30. Most of the accounts used as many as they could. Some had a little restraint and only posted 5 or 10 but they were in the minority. Those who used the most hashtags did not keep them extremely specific. As you can see above with the snkrhds accounts, they used #nikeair, #airjordan, #jordan, #asics, #puma, #reebok, and #newbalance on a post about Adidas shoes.
This type of hashtag use was echoed on many of the other accounts that we studied. It was their way of getting people who are interested in similar shoes to come to their account. And it can be useful for a variety of accounts to get like minded people on their posts!
Be news breakers
Sneaker collecting is an incredibly competitive game, with some selling out in mere minutes online. But if an account can give those collectors a small edge over the others, it becomes incredibly useful. This type of news breaking can be used on releases, discounts or other time relevant events to boost a strong following. It brings people back daily or multiple times per day just to see if there is any news. Sneaker News continually has the details on shoes dropping as well as many other accounts.
The biggest lesson we learned about Instagram from these accounts is to be passionate about something. They are extremely passionate about these sneakers, and it shows in their dedication to taking a perfect photo or taking the time to post something every day. With that much passion, followers came quickly.
The infographic in this article was created by Steve Shearer.