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.

For more on this topic read our posts on how ecommerce sites can use Instagram and a roundup of some great Instagram videos.

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. 

Daily usage

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.

Instagram ads

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.
David Moth

Published 6 January, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)

David Somerville

David Somerville, Strategy Director at Fresh Egg

Thanks for the post David. It's nice to see some of the latest stats all in one place and the list of brand accounts from Totem is handy.

I'm still keen to find out evidence from brands on what Instagram is driving for them in terms of measurable success. There's no doubting that engagement levels in the app itself is good, but does this make people visit the website or drive more sales?

As you said yourself, would a user take the time to open their browser and type in a URL. Obviously you can include a link in your bio, but for me there is still a disconnect with Instagram being a mobile-app and not the same as the likes of Twitter, Facebook etc.

over 3 years ago


Nache Lekwot, Marketing Manager at The Education and Careers Corporation

Thank you for sharing this post. The language for engaging consumers currently is pictures, according to statistics, Instagram just overtook twitter in the number of active users. One key thing I can say is Instagram should be looked at differently when measuring its effectiveness until the app upgrades its interface. With the constant rise of internet users, smartphones and tablets, I see Instagram as a very good tool to incorporate when creating a branding strategy which can help companies gain consumers share of mind.

over 3 years ago

George Cole

George Cole, Digital Marketing Manager at TN

I think for most brands, Instagram's power is going to be in branding and forming a positive impression of a brand. If I consistently see truly excellent travel shots on a feed, I'm going to be of the opinion that a travel company knows its onions and has ideas of great places to send me. That will over time have the effect of keeping that travel brand top-of-mind for me

over 3 years ago

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