With 150-million monthly active users and plans to start incorporating advertising soon, Instagram is attracting the attention of big name brands looking for their slice of filtered glory and another way to interact with their customers. But who exactly is using Instagram, what are they posting and how many people actually like and engage with their photos and videos?
Those are some of the questions a new report by TrackMaven hopes to answer. The social media analysis and intelligence company tracked down all the Fortune 500 companies that hold an account on the service (123 in all) and collected every photo or video they have ever posted. By looking at these 19 009 pictures and 243 videos, it was able to shed some light on how the brands are using Instagram, what type of posts receive the most responses and how active they are.
Here are some of the highlights:
Photos are still bigger than video
Despite the fact that Instagram added video sharing functionality back in June, it seems that some of the brands still haven’t jumped on the 15 second clip bandwagon in a big way. In the month leading up to 17 September 2013, TrackMaven says that 1 792 photos and just 74 videos were posted by the Fortune 500 brands — that means that 96% of the posts were photos, with only 4% of all posts including video.
In addition to that, photos are actually attracting more interactions (in this case, the company combined comments and likes under one banner term) than videos. After normalising for follower numbers (the accounts with more followers naturally get more interactions), TrackMaven found that the average photo attracted 37 interactions per 1000 followers, while videos obtained just 24.
Interestingly, while factors like time had very little impact on how many interactions a photo received (posts on different days at different times gained around the same level of attention), videos tended to gain more likes and comments if they were posted after work hours (9pm – 8am) or on weekends. This may be because of the audio component and the extra time needed to watch a video as opposed to simply flicking through photos — not everyone can sit at work watching and interacting with noisy videos, you know.
Who is most popular and how active are they?
While just under 25% of the Fourtune 500 have accounts on the service, the number of followers they’ve amassed and how often they use Instagram varies wildly. While 91% (112 of the companies included in the study) have made at least one post on Instagram to date, just 17% of the brands posted a photo or video to their account in the last month.
Though major brands from Disney to Apple may hold accounts on the platform, there are two clear leaders. Nike and Starbucks are far and away the biggest brands in terms of follower numbers, with 2.3-million followers for the sports brand and the coffee chain coming in second with 1.5-million followers. Double-tapping seems to be the way followers show their appreciation, with the vast majority (97%) of all interactions being likes, with brands averaging less than a comment per 1000 followers. The most popular branded post overall (in terms of the number of likes and comments) was this snow-covered shot by Nike.
#Nofilter wins again
Supporting previous stats that found that a large portion (44%) of the 2-million most popular grams hadn’t been put through one of Instagram’s filters, the TrackMaven study found that no filter was used on the vast majority of brand photos, with Lo-Fi and X-Pro II taking a distant second and third place. This doesn’t mean that brands aren’t editing their photos — presumably, they’re being enhanced before they’re uploaded, and no extra retro gloss is added before they tap ‘share’.
However, that doesn’t mean brands should give up on filters altogether. The study found that shots filtered with Mayfair actually gained more interactions than those with no filter, followed by grayscale darling Inkwell.
Hashtags do help, but don’t be spammy
Yes, adding hashtag does have a serious impact on the volume of interactions a post receives — but there is a limit to how many hashtags brands should add to a post. TrackMaven suggests the sweet spot is around 5 — after that, the number of comments and likes declines. Posts with 5 hashtags received an average of 21 interactions per 1000 followers.
While ‘don’t be spammy’ is always a good rule to keep in mind, some smaller accounts can get away with adding more hashtags to help new users discover them. The study found that accounts with less than 1000 followers gained the highest number of interactions if they used 11 or more hashtags in a post.