Brand Audiences on Instagram Growing at Twice the Rate of Other Platforms [Report]
So what's a good level of growth for your social media community? The answer, of course, is a case-by-case proposition - it's pretty unlikely that most brands will be able to add millions of new followers from a standing start, so what, exactly, should businesses expect? What type of audience increases are realistic, platform-by-platform and what growth levels are other brands seeing that might help you get a baseline on where you should be tracking and what you should be aiming for each quarter?
To help with this, content analytics provider TrackMaven has released its 2016 Social Media Inflation Index report, in which they've analyzed 12 months of follower growth data from almost 27,000 brands across five of the biggest social media networks - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. The study aims to measure how much brands have been able to grow their followings, giving others an idea of what they can expect, as well as an overview of the platforms on which businesses are seeing audience growth - and, conversely, where they're not.
And the details provide some interesting considerations - from TrackMaven's report:
- On average, brand follower growth on Instagram increased by 6% to 8% month-over-month. That's twice the monthly follower growth rate on LinkedIn and more than three times that on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. In fact, the average brand doubled its number of followers on Instagram year-over-year.
- On Facebook, brand follower growth took a major hit in March 2015 with the cleanup of inactive accounts from brand page likes.
- Annually, the average brand grew its Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn audiences by a quarter (23%, 23%, and 24%, respectively). Brands see the smallest annual follower growth on Pinterest at 20%.
The data shows that Instagram has been a big winner for brands in terms of building audience, and that's no surprise. The visual platform has been a big focus for many businesses in recent months, with marketers looking to capitalize on the network's massive audience growth - Instagram's doubled its active user base from 200 million back in 2014 to 400 million at last check. The platform opened up its ad platform last September and recently reported that they already have more than 200,000 active advertisers, underlining that growing brand focus. But that, in turn, has also undoubtedly played a part in Instagram's recently announced decision to switch to an algorithm-defined timeline - much to the chagrin of its dedicated, power users.
Will those audience growth levels hold-up? You'd think that with the implementation of an algorithm - which will limit post reach - those numbers are going to have to drop. But still, Instagram's current follower increases of 6%-8% on average are significantly higher than other networks. It may be worth getting in and working to build an audience on the platform now before those reach restrictions take full effect.
Overall, the median annual follower growth for brands was 42% - meaning your typical brand had a 42% larger social media audience by the end of the year, in comparison to the start. Brands on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn grew their followings by almost 25% for the period, with Pinterest recording the lowest annual follower growth at 20%. The Pinterest numbers reflect the way in which that platform is increasingly being used - it's essentially becoming more of a 'discovery' network than a 'social' one. In this sense, people don't so much go to Pinterest to connect with their favorite brands or friends, they go there to find new things via search, which, in turn, means they're not looking to follow brands so much as they are trends. It's an interesting dynamic and may lead to a re-defining of what Pinterest is as the platform moves further into the eCommerce space.
And one important note - that big dip in Facebook numbers in March? That was due to Facebook's account clean-up, in which a large number of "deactivated and memorialized" accounts were taken out of Page Like counts. The impact of this purge was particularly significant for some major brands - as noted by TrackMaven:
"Long-established Facebook brand pages took the biggest hits: In March 2015, Pepsi lost 1.8 million page likes and Dr. Pepper lost 1.3 million page likes."
TrackMaven's Social Media Inflation Index highlights some interesting data, particularly around the ongoing growth of social and the part that plays in overall audience growth. For example, as social media platforms are increasing in use across the board, you'd expect that brand pages would also gain more followers as a result. TrackMaven's data can help you contextualize your actual growth and get a better understanding of whether your results are necessarily due to improvements on your behalf, or because of overall trends which see more people coming to social anyway (i.e. if you're audience is growing above the median rate of 25% across those major platforms, you're operating above the norm, which is a positive endorsement of your strategy).
It'll be interesting to see how Instagram's data holds up over the next 12 months, and whether the troubles at Twitter also lead to declines in engagement and growth.
You can read the full TrackMaven report here.
Main image via Scyther5/Shutterstock.
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