Instagram has been exponentially growing in popularity and use with brand marketers in the past year. Where just 40 percent of top brands were using the platform a year ago, now 71 percent of the most recognized brands in the world have accounts and are sharing photos and videos.
Social analytics platform Simply Measured used their software to analyze the Instagram profiles for the Interbrand 2013 Top 100 Brands, which rank as the world’s most valuable brands based on market, brand, competitor, and financial data.
Their findings show that not only has the adoption of Instagram rivaled that of Google+ and Pinterest, but that brands are seeing success by creating strong content tied to strengthening their community.
71 percent of the Interbrand 100 use Instagram
While Facebook and Twitter hold steady with 98 percent coverage, Instagram is the fastest growing social network among marketers worldwide, up from 40 percent in October 2012.
The reach of top brands on the platform is staggering. In total, the top ten brands received 83 percent of all Instagram engagement, while accounting for 33 percent of all posts. Automotive, Luxury, and Media brands dominate this chart, with luxury automakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi making up three of the top five most engaging brands.
As activity and engagement increases, so do followers
57 percent of top brand marketers are now averaging at least one post per week, up from only 38 percent in Q3 of 2012. Five of the top ten brands by engagement (shown above) average more than 30 posts per month. As a result, more than one third of top brands have 10,000 followers and 19 percent have audiences exceeding 100,000 followers.
Brand engagement has grown 350 percent year over year, due in part to a 70 percent increase in brands posting to the visual network.
Instagram engagement consists of likes and comments on brand posts, but they’re not equal. “Likes” account for 99 percent of engagement, while comments (Simply Measured recorded close to 500k during their test period) only made up one percent of total engagement.
Photos receive more comments and likes than videos
Instagram videos only accounted for 6% of total brand posts, and were only used by 43 of the 65 active brands. Photos continue to lead the way, driving 26 percent more engagement than videos. For marketers, this supports a strategy anchored around amazing photo content, with videos used to break up the mix.
Hashtags connect to bring communities together
Much like the culture of tumblr’s users, Instagram has thousands of niche communities that develop around hashtags. Despite Instagram’s crackdown on some of these hashtags (which they have recently updated and relaxed their stance on) 83 percent of Instagram posts include at least one hashtag, with 63 of the 65 active brands on Instagram using the new feature.
One interesting finding: top brands use hashtags more sparingly than other brands.
More and more of today’s top digital campaigns feature a branded hashtag in someway to tie conversations across all social platforms now that all major networks use a hashtag in the similar way, but there is a saturation point where overuse can turn users off.
With more than 150 Million users worldwide, top brands understand that Instagram is a place to tell stories, introduce new products, and connect with their brand loyalists with content that is easily understandable and consumed quickly. As sponsored posts become more widespread int he coming months, we will see how these engagement numbers grow or decline with the introduction of paid media.