With more than one billion monthly active users, Instagram ranks third after Facebook (with just over two billion active users) and YouTube (with 1.9 billion) in terms of the most popular social media network. While Facebook still has more total users, it is no secret that Instagram has a reach that shouldn't be ignored by business users.
According to the latest data compiled by UK-based service platform Superviral, Instagram could be a crucial part of a social media marketing strategy. The Facebook-owned service now ranks second as the most downloaded free app in the Apple App Store, and is the 10th most searched query on Google.
The service has seen serious growth in 2019, which could continue next year.
"With a 20% increase in users from June 18 to April 19, I believe Instagram's growth isn't slowing down any time soon," said Rabban Faruqui of Superviral.co.uk. "From a biological perspective, we can see why visual-based social media companies like Instagram and Snapchat will continue thriving as visuals are processed 60,000x faster than text in the brain, meaning consumers simply prefer images/videos over text."
Reaching Millennials And Generation Z
Instagram also has appeal to younger adults, far more than Facebook these days. According to data from SproutSocial, 64% of Instagram users are 18-29 years old – but more importantly nearly two out of every three adults in this age group use the service.
The service is also expected to account for nearly a quarter of all Facebook's ad revenue by the end of this year!
The users of the service also have a reasonable amount of "disposable income" noted by Superviral's data: 31% of Instagram users make more than $35,000 a year, while 32% of users make between $50,000 and $74,000, and 32% make between $30,000 and $49,000 a year.
Ditching The Likes
Earlier this year Instagram made a bold move in dropping its "likes" feature, but that has been seen as a largely positive move.
"From my understanding, Instagram's recent leap into hiding their likes will cultivate a non-judgmental environment for its users that will increase the number of posts being submitted to the platform," explained Faruqui. "The recent move is a competitive move with Snapchat. This will only capture Snapchat's user base as only the user can see how much engagement their post has received."
Business On Instagram
What sets Instagram apart from other social media services is in the fact that 80% of accounts actually follow at least one business or brand, and 200 million "Instagrammers" actively visit business profiles daily. Moreover, 70% of users turn to Instagram to look up a brand, while 60% of users learn about new products via the social media service.
Only about 11% of active users are in the United States, but the 2020 estimates are that it will still account for some 112.5 million American users. By contrast 70 million users are in Brazil, 69 million in India and 40 million in Russia.
Interestingly, males account for 51% of total users on Instagram.
Time To Post
Those looking to make a splash on Instagram need to consider carefully when to post. SproutSocial's research found that weekdays between 10am and 3pm were the most ideal times.
Superviral offered even more specific data, and broke it down by key times. Travel posts are best on Fridays from 9am until 1pm, while entertainment-specific posts should be made on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12pm noon until 3pm. Food at 12 noon on Fridays, and retail on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, also at noon.
Non-profits do better on Tuesdays at 4pm or 10am, while e-commerce related posts should be made on Thursdays at 9pm or 4pm, and Healthcare on Wednesdays or Sundays at 9am. Personal care is best posted on Thursdays or Fridays at 1pm, 2pm or 3pm. Technology related topics should be posted on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm, and education on Thursdays at 4pm or 5pm.
But as all social media experts noted there is no really bad time – and given different time zones and international markets it is about the message and image as much as anything.
SproutSocial reported that 100 million photos are posted daily! If a picture tells a thousand words that means there are literally an encyclopedia worth of stories posted each and every day. Brands need to consider the photos they post.
Superviral suggested that images with a single dominant color17% more interest than images with multiple dominant colors, while images with texture had higher engagement rates with 79% more interest than those with low texture. Users also apparently like some space in photos – as those with more background (negative or white space) get 29% more likes than those without.
And users certainly aren't colorblind. Those images that have blue as the dominant color generation 24% more interest than those with red as the dominant color.
#Love Is All Around
Finally, when it comes to hashtags, #love remains the most popular on Instagram. However, marketing experts agree if your content isn't actually about love, don't use that hashtag.
There are other options – and Instagram does allow up to 30 hashtags per post. If you're looking for some suggestions, Oberlo published a list of the 100 best Instagram hashtags for likes in 2019.