How Brands are Celebrating Valentine's Day on Instagram

Lots of hearts

There are many ways brands show love with social media marketing. The most basic can be a heart that says “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Some put a little more thought into it and make a Valentine’s joke, and some celebrate “Singles Awareness Day.” If a brand offers an image of a bouquet of flowers in a consumer’s feed, will that consumer say “awwww”? There's more to it than that. Here are some ways brands are celebrating Valentine’s Day on Instagram.

Product-themed Valentine

Estēe Lauder asks, “Will you be our #Valentine?” with a photo of a woman’s lips and a conversation heart in her mouth. The brand has made sure to feature lips with the perfect shade of lipstick. takes the approach of giving love in two ways—donating to their cause to provide safe water as well as making the donation in honor of someone else. A neat spin on the meaning of Valentine’s Day. 

Central Square Florist doesn’t hide behind gimmicks or subtle product placements. In an Instagram post, the shop wishes its followers a happy Valentine’s Day, saying “The shop is stocked up and we will NOT run out of flowers! We’ll be here all day.” 

Burt’s Bees goes for the shameless plug. The question “Need softer, more kissable lips for Valentine’s Day?” is paired with a photo of some pink Burt’s Bees lip gloss

Not sugar-coating it

Old Navy avoids any gimmicky product-related posts (they could have posted red or pink Rockstar jeans), but instead, they get real with their followers. Not everyone has a bae to bring them flowers. Old Navy posts, “If you need us, we’ll be eating ’self-care chocolates in bed & ugly crying over rom coms.”  

Show love IRL, then post the proof

Raley’s makes it real first: the chain uses one of its marquee signs to post “DON’T GO BACON MY HEART,” then posts a picture of it on Instagram. Any grocery store marketing manager could take that quote and type it onto a pink background and post the image file all while sitting at her desk, but the real impact of the post comes from the fact that someone at Raley’s made it real in the analog world, then posted the proof to Instagram. 

Clover Food Lab launched an app for their customers, then told them about the launch via Instagram. That’s a cool Valentine’s gift. 

Get to the heart of it

What is Valentine’s Day all about? If you can figure that out, and focus your post on the meaning rather than the face-value of pink hearts and chocolates, your Instagram post can communicate at an emotional level for the consumer. Apple’s Valentine’s Day Instagram post focuses on the word “together,” which sums up the real meaning of Valentine’s Day. 

Cydney Hatch, author of When Eternity is Not Forever, gets to the heart of it this Valentine’s Day. Don’t be fooled by the whimsical heart sunglasses that she wears in the photo (which are super cute, by the way). In the caption, she talks about the realities of hurt in divorce and reminds followers that Valentine’s Day isn’t just about having a love or being single. “Companionship isn’t just relationships and marriage,” she says. “Companionship is learning charity for everyone in your life.” 

Just be yourself

MIT shows off its typical quirky vibe with a picture of a heart-shaped carbon nanotube cell. You do you. 

Spotlight someone else

The City of Auburn, California “regrammed” a post by @mylifenthebackcountry, were a hand holds up a heart-shaped stone. Not only is the post Valentine-themed, it’s also a show of love to followers by featuring their posts. 

Fulfill a "job to be done"

In an HBR article, Christensen, Hall, Dillon, and Duncan discuss the “jobs to be done” principle. They say, "'Job' is shorthand for what an individual really seeks to accomplish in a given circumstance." Viking Books, for example, posts a carousel of images in today’s post, which offers different Valentine’s card images followers are allowed to pass on. They tell their followers, “Swipe through, take a screenshot & send to your valentine or valentine.” Today, consumers are likely looking for a way to show their love to others. By offering followers something they actually need, Viking Books makes itself useful, and therefore memorable as its media is passed on.