Mr Social on the popularity of Instagram and how to use it

According to Kerwood 'Mayfair' is the best filter to use on Instagram in terms of engagement
According to Kerwood 'Mayfair' is the best filter to use on Instagram in terms of engagement

If content is king, Instagram is the crown prince, says Mr Social, aka Peter Kerwood, marketing director at The Concerto Group.

There is a reason why Instagram is so popular with consumers and brands alike: it's visual. Simple as that. It experiences such extraordinarily high engagement because people crave to share visually. We want to share stories and life experiences. Instagram offers the perfect solution, with social discovery built in.

Visual storytelling attracts unusually high recall and engagement, and Instagram makes it easy for brands to capitalise on this. The platform allows them to easily share key messages in a beautifully filtered, perfectly tilt-shifted visual way.

At 2.261%, the level of brand engagement is higher on Instagram than on any other major social network. Facebook's brand engagement ranks at 0.216%, LinkedIn is 0.055% and Twitter is 0.035%. Instagram, therefore, delivers 65 times more engagement than Twitter and ten times more than Facebook.

It's a force to be reckoned with

The Facebook-owned platform is growing at a rate of knots, with more than 400 million active users and 75 million daily users worldwide. Global brands have seen a huge year- on-year increase in followers, with the average number of followers now nearly five times higher than last year, at more than 1 million.

The vast majority (90%) of Instagram's users are under 35, almost half (41%) are aged between 16 and 24 and the male/female split is roughly 50/50. In the UK alone there are 40 million active users.

For events, the real-time nature of the network is integral to its ability to create a buzz. People looking at an event's hashtag will be able to follow it minute by minute. Time is of the essence: the more recent the image, the more likely it is to be seen. Half of the comments an image receives will be posted within six hours of the post going live.

Building an engaged following is hugely important to a brand's success on Instagram. It is, at its heart, a social network. So to get images of your event seen you will first need to build a following. The addition of '@mentions', relevant hashtags and location tags can help your follower-count and reach to skyrocket.

The most successful posts on Instagram commonly use four or five hashtags - use more and the average interactions drop. Add at least one @mention and your post becomes more popular still - posts with @mentions in captions receive 56% more engagement.

And if you're wondering which filter to use, stick with Mayfair. Not only is it one of the most-used filters among the Fortune 500 companies in the US, it's the most successful filter for these brands. A study by data insight company TrackMaven found that, on average, Fortune 500 companies' photos with the Mayfair filter received an average of 23 interactions per image.

Instagram in numbers

20% of internet users have an Instagram account
2.5bn - Number of likes posted by users per day
90% of users are under 35
21 - Average number of minutes spent on Instagram per day
400m - Number of active users around the globe
41% are aged between 16 and 24
70m images are posted every day on Instagram
14m - Number of active users in the UK
50/50 - The male/female split of Instagram users
1,000 - Number of comments per second posted by users

*Instagram statistics by Simply Measured and Forrester

How to gain new followers quickly:

  • Find and follow a user in your tribe/community/niche
  • Comment on three of their posts
  • Like five of their posts
  • Exchange likes for likes
  • Leave replies to those who comment on your image/video
  • Regram posts you really like using apps such as Repost

How to create the best possible instagram post:

  • The Mayfair filter generates the most likes and comments
  • Interactions are highest on posts with between four and five hashtags
  • Avoid using hashtags like #follow4follow or #like4like - unless you are 16 years old
  • Don't ask people to follow you - it's creepy
  • Big brands post an average of 1.5 times per day - don't be an 'overgramer'
  • Posts with @mentions in captions receive 56% more engagement - use them whenever possible
  • If you can't find a @name #UseAHashtagInstead
  • Adding a location in a post results in 79% higher engagement
  • Post videos on Instagram - they can generate three times the number of inbound links than written posts

Case studies

Reynolds' Endless Table

Reynolds, the US tinfoil giant, recently turned its Instagram account @reynoldskitchens into an 'Endless Table' by stitching together 93 overhead images that take advantage of Instagram's grid layout. Each of the images clicks through to a new Instagram account featuring additional images that show how to cook each dish featured.

Topshop's Instagram-powered social catwalk

Topshop is one retailer that has become known for its innovative social catwalks. Instead of the runways of London Fashion Week, Topshop chose to focus on a digital runway for the launch of part of its Unique summer 2015 collection.

Using the hashtag #TopshopWindow, the retailer designed a range of initiatives to democratise the catwalk, saying that it was the brand's most socially accessible fashion show to date.

The event was live-streamed on a screen installation by British design studio Hellicar & Lewis, with Topshop claiming that it was the "world's first fashion show created by Instagram imagery". The new range was also live-streamed online with 'click to buy' linked to each outfit.

Ballantine's Instazine

Scotch whisky maker Ballantine's ground-breaking 'Instazine' uses dozens of Instagram accounts connected by tags, within images, to tell digital stories about its whisky.

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