If you're not utilizing Instagram yet, it might be time to look into it. Between the organic reach declines and expanding commercialization of Facebook, and the sometimes excessive noise of Twitter, Instagram has emerged as the platform to which many social media users have turned. Back in January, Pew Research released a study which showed Instagram is the fastest growing social media site, with around half of 18-29 year old internet users now active on the platform. Before that, in December 2014, Instagram reported that it had hit 300 million active users - surpassing Twitter, which was at 284 million at the time of reporting.
The more restrained, more simple, presentation of Instagram has made it something of the antithesis of the other big networks - there are no links on Instagram, so you're not being hit with the latest viral post over and over, there's not the same implied pressure on following back those who've followed you. Instagram remains focussed on the content, an approach that's working in their favour. And now, a new study from Locowise has underlined the platform's rising influence, and why brands should be considering getting on board.
The researchers from Locowise analysed 2,500 Instagram pages in the month of May to see what's happening on the platform - what's working, how often people are posting, how many people are commenting, etc. Their findings largely underline those of other, similar reports - Instagram is growing and engagement is high - but there are a few things the report also highlights which are important to know for anyone trying to maximize their Instragram presence.
- Average follower growth on Instagram in May was 1.48%. Comparatively, Locowise found follower growth on Facebook was 0.2% for the same period. This supports Pew's findings that Instagram is growing faster than other social networks. Back in April 2012, when Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion, people questioned whether it was worth it. Its most recent valuation? $35 billion, with projections that it could be generating $2 billion in ad revenue within the next year. With significant recent updates and improved ad offerings on the way, Facebook's decision to buy up Instagram is looking increasingly smart, and they're now more actively looking to maximize the platform's potential.
- Instagrammers are posting, on average, 2.41 posts per day, with larger profiles more active, posting over 6 times per day. This is another reason behind Instagram's growth - people aren't posting as often, meaning they're not sharing random updates about things many others don't care so much about. Because it's all about the image, people tend to take more time and care with their Instagram posts, which acts, in a way, as a sort of in-built quality filter.
- Despite the rising popularity of online video overall, photos continue to dominate Instagram, with 91.77% of all content posted being still images. Instagram does have some great video features, like Hyperlapse, but the stats show that images reign supreme. This will no doubt be boosted by the fact that Instagram is set to roll out HD image capability, storing your photos in 1080 x 1080 pixels, as opposed to the current standard 640 x 640p, which makes a huge difference to how images are presented.
- On average, 2.61% of total audience engages with an Instagram post. This seems relatively small on the face of it, but comparatively, Facebook, Pages are seeing around 0.55% total engagement. On instagram, photos are generating more engagement, with images attracting response from 2.69% of the average audience, while videos are hitting 1.47%. This, again, underlines that Instagram is a still-image focussed platform, primarily, going against the video trend on other platforms.
- In another stat that underlines Instagram's more simplistic approach, people are not commenting a heap on Instagram posts, with "hearts" making up 97.2% of all engagements. The average number of hearts, per post, was 4,688 for the profiles included in Locowise's survey, with comments at an average of 132. Interestingly, video content is generating more comments than images, with videos generating 11.6% of overall comments, despite making up only 8.23% of total content. If you want to get more detailed feedback from your Instagram audience, video might be the way to go.
The Locowise data underlines much of what we've been hearing about Instagram in recent times - it's growing fast and generating good engagement, particularly when compared to Facebook. Based on user numbers alone, Instagram should be considered one of the top two or three social platforms, and that figure is constantly improving. While it may not be for everyone, it is worth everyone thinking about if, and how, they might be able to utilize Instagram and its various strengths. What's more, Instagram's updated search features look set to expand its overall functionality and boost its potential in reach and relevance.
Focus on quality images and on building a strong presence on the platform and it may just become an valuable weapon in your marketing arsenal. Either way you look at it, it's worth considering what value there might be for you in the 'Gram.
Main image via Shutterstock