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It is my intention to write a few posts focusing on brands doing great work on Instagram, but first I feel it’s worth rounding up a few stats to show why it's such an important social network.
There are a huge number of stats out there on Instagram usage, most of which are now inaccurate as the app’s audience is growing so quickly.
As such I’ve tried to weed out the old and irrelevant numbers to bring you the freshest and most up-to-date facts and figures.
But let’s begin with some official data from Instagram’s press page...
Official user stats
- Instagram has 300m monthly active users.
- 70% of these people are outside the US.
- Overall there have been 30bn photos shared through the app.
- On an average day Instagram users post 70m photos and hit the ‘like’ button 2.5bn times.
The average Instagram user spends 21 minutes per day using the app. That’s a lot for an app that just shows images.
- In Q2 2014, 20% of internet users aged 16-64 had an Instagram account. This is up from 15% in Q2 2013.
- The app is more popular among younger people, with usage at 41% among those aged 16-24 and at 35% among 24-34s.
- 51% of users are male while, you guessed it, 49% are female.
As is common with social networks, Instagram focused on building a user base before working out how to make money.
Unsurprisingly the monetisation strategy is focused on selling ads.
Instagram first began testing sponsored posts in late 2013 in the US with brands including Michael Kors, General Electric, Levi's, Lexus and Ben & Jerry's.
An example of a Michael Kors ad
The first Instagram ad from Michael Kors received four times the usual number of likes compared to non-promoted posts.
It also reached a global audience of 6.15m and the company received 33,000 new followers, 16 times more than usual.
Instagram rolled out sponsored posts to UK users on 23 September 2014 with Starbucks, Cadbury, Estee Lauder, Waitrose, Channel 4 and Rimmel among the brands included in the initial trials.
According to AdAge, Omnicom was one of the first agencies to sign up to use the platform with a year-long commitment to spend up to $100m beginning in early 2014.
I check the app everyday and this is the only ad I’ve seen thus far. The number of ‘likes’ is impressive, but I can’t imagine many people will bother to type that URL into their browser.
Most popular brands
If you ever want to know how you stack up against the most popular brands on Instagram then check out Totem’s handy list.
Based purely on follower counts, National Geographic (10.3m), Nike (10.1m) and 9GAG (9.1m) are the most popular.
But if you factor in the number of people using that brand’s hashtag, then Nike ranks top with Adidas Originals in second and Starbucks in third.
Instagram trumps Twitter for engagement
Brands using Instagram are seeing higher levels of engagement than on Twitter, according to data from Socialbakers.
Focusing purely on the top 25 most engaging brands, the average post engagement rate is 3.31% on Instagram compared to 0.07% on Twitter.
Furthermore, average profile interactions were 19m on Instagram vs. 502,000 on Twitter.
However I would like to point out a few caveats.
- Firstly, images are inherently easier to consume and engage with compared to text.
- We all know that images are the most popular type of content on other networks, so Instagram has an almost unfair advantage.
- It’s far easier to double tap an image than it is to retweet (assuming you’re adding your own comment) or reply to a tweet.
- ‘Liking’ a photo on Instagram is a fairly low-level engagement as in reality few other people will be aware of it, unlike a retweet or a reply on Twitter.