Study: How Top Brand Marketers Use Instagram

Study: How Top Brand Marketers Use Instagram TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 Introduction Methodology 2 Instagram is the fastest-growing of the top social netwo...
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Study: How Top Brand Marketers Use Instagram

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 Introduction Methodology 2 Instagram is the fastest-growing of the top social networks 4 Engagement among top brands on Instagram has grown by 350% over the last year 5 Top brands post more than 50 times per month? 6 Automotive, media and luxury industries make up 59% of total brand posts 7 Likes account for 99% of Instagram engagements 8 The top 10 brands receive 83% of all Instagram engagement 10 Brands drive 26% more engagement via photos than videos? 12 83% of Instagram posts by top brands include at least one hashtag 14 Only 30% of top brand posts use filters 15 Conclusion 16 Sources 17 About Simply Measured

MORE THAN 150 MILLION PEOPLE SHARE PHOTOS ON INSTAGRAM. How many photos? An average of 40 million each day. For a social network that only allows you to post via your mobile device, that’s a lot of pics. Instagram shows no signs of stopping either. The service is now available on your Windows phone, as well as iPhone and Android, and just this month announced the launch of their first ad platform. It was recently named the fastest-growing app of the year. We took a look at the top brands in the world and examined the tactics they’re using to make their mark on Instagram. This study looks at what these leading brands are doing to reach engaged users, whether or not they’re finding success, and what we can learn from their strategy on the network.

Methodology: This study analyzes the Interbrand 2013 Top 100 Brands, which rank as the world’s most valuable brands based on market, brand, competitor, and financial data. Statistics cited in this study are based on Q3 2013 data (July 1st September 30th). Brand post and engagement averages exclude brands that were inactive during the study period. Data for the complete lifetime of each brand account was captured to provide comparisons between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013 for brand posts, as well as likes and comments that occurred on brand posts. Data used in this study comes from Simply Measured’s industry-leading social media analytics and reporting platform. The findings from this study are designed to better inform marketers on Instagram by highlighting successful tactics from the most engaging brands on the network.


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INSTAGRAM IS THE FASTEST-GROWING OF THE TOP SOCIAL NETWORKS Aside from the 150 million users, Instagram offers an extremely intuitive interface. The simple double-tap “liking” feature and ability to quickly scroll through a feed of friends, brands, and celebrity photos makes the experience near effortless. Instagram also gives brand marketers the ability to share their advertising collateral in an organic way, doubling down on the assets they’ve already invested in. As the network grows and brands compete with organic traffic, understanding the impact of their content types will become more and more important. The addition of hashtag tracking, like the report Simply Measured offers, allows marketers to measure the full extent of their campaign, how it helped brand awareness, and how that related to activity and growth of their own audience.


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Instagram, which only captured the attention of 40% of top brands a year ago, now boasts 71% of the most recognized brands in the world. Its growth has been so substantial that it now rivals Google+ and Pinterest in terms of brand adoption. While Facebook and Twitter hold steady with 98% coverage, Instagram remains the fastest growing among the major social networks, and has quickly made its mark on marketers worldwide.

In addition to more brands being active on the network, Instagram’s audience has merited a huge growth in activity among those brands. In fact, 57% of top brand marketers are now averaging at least one post per week, up from only 38% in Q3 of 2012. 19% of these brands now have audiences that exceed 100,000 followers.


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Engagement on Instagram is simple: Likes and Comments are the only two options. Over the course of the year, engagement among the top brands has grown by a staggering 350%. This is due to 55% more brands using the network, and top brands collectively creating 70% more Instagram posts than a year ago. This growth in activity and engagement is indicative of the importance social marketers are placing on Instagram. Lesson for Marketers: The extent to which Instagram users are engaging with brands should appeal to marketers as Instagram rolls out their ad platform. There’s been less resistance to the addition than other networks have seen, suggesting that users are more comfortable with branded content when it’s visually appealing.


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Instagram engagement among the top brands has grown by 350% year-over-year.


As brand marketers grow their audience, their focus on engaging that audience has grown in tandem. The frequency drops off substantially from that point, but 4% of these top brands still post more than 50 posts a month. Five of the top ten brands by engagement (shown below) average more than 30 posts per month. Lesson for Marketers: These top brands have found that regular posting increases your brand exposure, but there’s a point of oversaturation when you post more than once a day.


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I20% of top brands average 11-20 Instagram photos a month, while 18% post between 21-30.


The automotive, media, and luxury industries are dominating Instagram engagement. Together, these three industries make up only 22% of top brands, but deliver 59% of total brand posts, and receive 83% of total engagement. On the flip side, electronics, technology, alcohol, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands make up 23% of top brands and make 23% of total brands posts, but they only account for 2% of Instagram engagement. This is indicative of the content that finds success on Instagram. Automakers like MercedesBenz and Audi, media brands like MTV, and luxury brands like Tiffany & Co. have extremely visual products and marketing materials that appeal to users and can be leveraged on the network.


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Automotive, media, and luxury brands receive 83% of all likes and comments on brand posts.

Which top brands aren’t on Instagram? Mainly B2B financial services companies and several FMCG companies. These brands don’t have visually stunning offerings and struggle to find their audience on the network. However, the ones who’ve found creative ways to get involved have found success. Lesson for Marketers: While you may not have Tiffany diamonds to display, these brands succeed by leveraging their creative department and other marketing assets for their Instagram photos. What work has your marketing and advertising team done that you can share on Instagram? LIKES ACCOUNT FOR 99% OF INSTAGRAM ENGAGEMENTS


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The largest brands have an average Instagram audience of 223k, make an average of 23 posts per month, and average 223k Instagram engagements. Instagram engagement consists of likes and comments on brand posts, but they’re not equal. “Likes” account for 99% of engagement, while comments (nearly 500k during the period) only made up 1% of total engagement. THE TOP 10 BRANDS RECEIVE 83% OF ALL INSTAGRAM ENGAGEMENT


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The top ten brands (by engagement) received 83% of all Instagram engagement, their audience made up 65% of total followers, and they made 33% of all brand posts. Although they made 33% of brand posts, these top brands posted 53% of all Instagram videos during the study period. The level of engagement these top brands receive and their willingness to quickly adopt and experiment with new content types demonstrates a high degree of sophistication on the network.


Nine of the top ten brands belong to the top four industries: Luxury, Media, Apparel, and Automotive.


Videos have been a hot topic among brand marketers on Instagram, and research by Unruly2 finds that 40% of all Instagram videos posted in the last month have been by brands. This doesn’t mean they’re more successful: Among top brands, videos underperform the brand engagement average by 24%. Brands are able to drive 26% more engagement with photos than videos.


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Instagram videos only accounted for 6% of total brand posts, and were only used by 43 of the 65 active brands. Although videos are still a new resource for brands on Instagram and haven’t been fully adopted, they haven’t yet proven themselves as valuable as photos for driving engagement. Instagram’s biggest value is that it’s easy to use and content can be consumed quickly. Videos lack that quality to some extent. In addition to the time it takes to watch a 15-second video, when you’re not connected to WiFi, these videos can take a decent amount of time to load. Lesson for Marketers: While videos are a great way to mix up your content and keep fresh ideas rolling through your followers’ feeds, it shouldn’t replace your strategy around photo content.


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Hashtags are finding their way into almost all brand posts. 83% of Instagram posts by top brands include at least one hashtag, and 97% of the active brands are using hashtags. The top ten most engaging companies have demonstrated their sophistication on the network, and these ten brands rarely overuse hashtags. In fact, the top ten brands are less likely to include a hashtag in a post than the average Interbrand company. While 83% of posts include at least one hashtag, only 77% of posts made by the top ten brands contain one or more hashtags.


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83% of Instagram posts by brands include at least one hashtag.

Most often, posts by the top ten brands contain just one hashtag (36% of posts); the same can be said for Interbrand companies in general (27% of posts contain a single hashtag). However, there’s a breaking point: The top ten brands rarely overuse hashtags, with only 10% of posts including five or more hashtags. Overall, 21% of all brands include at least five hashtags in their posts. Lesson for Marketers: Hashtags are a great tool for discovery and to piggyback on popular topics and trends, but overuse can negatively impact credibility with your audience.


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We’ve seen the use of filters on brand posts continues to decline3 over the past year. Only 30% of brand posts were filtered during this study period, down from 42% in May 2013. Lesson for Marketers: This also speaks to the sophistication of brand activity on the network. More and more brand marketers are leveraging creative assets from other marketing and advertising campaigns, and as such, are already professionally developed and require no additional filtering.


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CONCLUSION As Instagram rolls out their ad platform4, and the audience continues to grow, the focus of brand marketers will be on implementing the best tactics for driving engagement on the network. These top brands have already recognized the opportunity with Instagram’s 150 million users by increasing their activity and working to refine their tactics. The example from the leading companies speaks to the importance of a sophisticated presence. Don’t overuse hashtags, filters or videos, but don’t miss the opportunity to leverage their value when it can benefit the brand.

For tips on how you can increase your brand’s engagement on Instagram, download our white paper:

10 Tips for Increasing Brand Engagement on Instagram


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SOURCES 1. 2. brandsaccount40top1000mostshared instagramvideosreportsunruly/1382519072 3. 4.


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ABOUT SIMPLY MEASURED Simply Measured is a fast-growing team of data geeks dedicated to making the world of analytics and reporting a better, more beautiful place. Our goal is to put the tools to understand business data in the hands of business users. We think reporting should be simple, beautiful, and accessible for everyone – not just data scientists. Our software streamlines the process from data to deliverables and eliminates the countless hours spent on everyday reporting tasks. We do this by putting cloud data sources at your fingertips, providing a marketplace of best practice reports, and generating beautiful deliverables on the web, in Excel, and in PowerPoint with a couple of clicks.

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