With 200 million monthly active users, 60 million photos posted each day, and 1.6 billion likes per day, the question is not whether or not your company should be on Instagram but rather how you can leverage that engagement to increase your own brand awareness through Instagram marketing. More than 86% of the Interbrand 2013 Top 100 Brands have established a presence on Instagram. What about your company?
Simply Measured just released another definitive Instagram study which details the above stats and much more. As Simply Measured have one of the most robust social media analytical platforms to date – and are naturally good at crunching numbers as a result – they have taken data from Q3 encompassing 6,000+ posts from 80 brands that generated more than 100 million likes and 1 million comments (no, those numbers are not typos!).
You’ll have to download the entire study from Simply Measured for the full details, but here are my 5 takeaways for your company to better leverage the visual platform for your Instagram marketing.
Instagram is Mainstream
I’ve included an infographic at the end of this post to better illustrate my point, but Instagram is one of the leading social media sites in terms of active users. Period. 86% of the top brands realize this, but does your company? And even if you do, are you putting the same emphasis on Instagram as you do on the other platforms? Most aren’t, but should be re-considering. 73% of the top brands are now posting at least one video or photo per week, and nearly 60% now have more than 10,000 Instagram followers. It’s time to start treating Instagram as the mainstream platform it has become. In fact, 3rd party apps such as Schedugram have now emerged to allow us to schedule our images from our computer in advance just like we do for the other major social networks.
Instagram Users Engage
Anyone who has used Instagram gets the sense that photos posted there seem to get way more engagement than similar posts on Facebook despite having fewer friends on Instagram. The potential reasons behind this are many, but as many are starting to unplug from Facebook, they will find a naturally engaging audience on Instagram. With a growing user base that is growing more accustomed to following and engaging with content from brands, the number of average likes and comments from an average Interbrand 100 skyrocketed from 3,648 in Q3 of 2012 to 18,822 in Q4 of this year. Have you seen a similar 415% growth in engagement on your posts in other social networks?
Bring Others into the Convo
Tagging other users in your social media posts is something that can be effective or simply backfire depending on the social network and the relevancy of the content. The culture on Instagram, perhaps because so few brands do it, seems to be more receptive to mentioning other users in posts. In fact, on average, posts that include another user handle in the caption received 56% more engagement than those that didn’t. Add that to the fact that only 36% of all brand posts even included an @mention and you can see the engagement potential that exists by bringing other Instagram users into your visual storytelling. One easy way to do this is in the curation and reposting of other users’ photos (see “Location-Based Marketing Opportunities Abound” below for more input on this point).
Hashtags are not an organic after-thought as they have become on Twitter but the norm for searching for content on Instagram. Any search you do on Instagram gives you a response in hashtags. For that reason – and to get better discovered by other users on Instagram – 88% of brand posts include one hashtag. Instagram actually allows you to include up to 30 (!) hashtags per post, but it’s best not to go over-board on them. That explains why 91% of posts by top brands had seven or fewer hashtags. The result of using hashtags? Posts with at least one hashtag averaged 12.6% more engagement.
Location-Based Marketing Opportunities Abound
While Foursquare has failed to reach the mainstream, Instagram has already leapfrogged the competition by encouraging users to, in essence, “check-in” by tagging their photos to a location (which, ironically, uses the Foursquare database!). Once tagged to a location, anybody can see all of the photos tagged to the same location. This is how it is easy for brands like Disneyland to curate 100% of their Instagram content, but it also means that there are numerous opportunities for brands that own a “location” to engage with Instagram users that are already promoting them to their friends. One of the companies that I feature when speaking about Instagram is a sports bar here in Southern California called Barney’s Beanery that actually created an Instagram loyalty program once they realized this. Only about 5% of a selected group of Instagram posts from the top brands used the location-tagging feature, but those that did received 79% higher engagement.
There is much more information to be gleaned from the study, so here again is the link to download it in its entirety, complete with more statistical images like the ones above. As for other Instagram advice, make sure you check out a host of resources already published on this site (sorted in social sharing popularity as of the writing of this post) :
Below is the infographic I mentioned above, but please scroll down to the comments to share you Instagram marketing experiences with us. Thank you!