While just a little over turning 3 years old, Instagram has made huge strides in social media. With over 150 million users on the platform, 16 billion photos shared, and 1 billion likes happening each day, the photo-sharing and editing platform is one of the most engaging channels on social media.

Instagram has some pretty different functionalities in comparison to other social media sites and is fundamentally based on being able to simply upload and share beautiful images instantly. Except, looking at the other capabilities, Instagram is still a platform to share things and identifying what is working and what isn’t helps to determine what a specific audience craves.

As a marketer, I’m completely intertwined in social media as it represents a pretty big channel and never ceases to change everyday. But, I also have to monitor all of the other channels (ex: Traffic, SEO, Paid Advertising, Earned Media, etc.), so finding out how I could get the most out of Instagram while coupling with the scarcity of time.

At TrackMaven, we released a huge report on how the Fortune 500 uses Instagram and we found some pretty awesome pieces of data that are extremely applicable in optimizing engagement in your Instagram account to resonate with your audience.

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1. Instagram Photos dwarf Video

On June 20 2013, Instagram released a 15 second video component to their platform as a direct competitor to Twitter’s Vine and gained some popularity in its first 24 hours with 5 million videos uploaded. Instagram video functions like the photo part with filters and users can also upload their own videos to edit as well.

The biggest video sharing platform, Youtube, which boasts over 4 billion videos viewed each day and 800 million unique visitors visit the platform each month, one would think that Instagram video could have the same ramp in success with video. Yet, that is not the case… just yet.

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55 Million photos on average are uploaded each day, while the adoption rate of video is barely scratching the surface. In the US Fortune 500, only 4% of the big brands have adopted video.

Currently the average photo receives an average of 37 interactions per 1,000 followers, while videos are behind with an average of 24 interactions per 1,000 followers. So, sticking with photos to get more comments and likes is a safe bet, however, it’s not to say adding video will lower those interactions. Instagram video isn’t even a year old yet, so adding in a diverse mix will only strengthen your account in the long run.


2. Normal or #nofilter is by far the most popular filter, but it is not the most effective.

Instagram’s filters are arguably the most unique function it has as a social media channel. With the likes of Twitter and the new iOS7 adding in the capability of adding filters directly to your photos through your device, Instagram filters are what helps make the platform unique. But what are the filters that are used the most; are they the ones that also harness the most interactions from your Instagram followers?

One of my favorites is lo-fi, as I am one of those people who frequently snaps pictures of my food (Even though it apparently makes my food less appealing when I’m ready to eat…psh, right) brings out the warm undertones of food. Lo-fi is also one of the most popular filters used by big brands sandwiched in between Normal (or No Filter) taking the first place spot and X-Pro II in third place.

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However, filter usage versus effectiveness varies from the popular choices. Mayfair brings in on average 23.044 interactions (the sum of likes and comments) with Normal at about 18.009 average interactions and Inkwell with 16.407 average interactions.

So yes, that filter may make your picture stand out; however, is it going to garner the right attention with your audience? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the data doesn’t lie!


3.  Best day to post: Most people post on Thursday, but Sunday would be most effective

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In regards to email, tweeting, Facebook posts etc, there are days of the week that will gather more attention, but it’s the complete opposite for Instagram.

With the mobility of Instagram it is inherently on “24/7,”  making any day of the week optimal for posting. While looking at the Fortune 500, there is no conclusive best day of the week to post on Instagram, but people do post the most on Thursday.


4. When is the best time of the day to post videos?

The best time in the day to post follows the same tune after the best day of the week to post.

Larger brands are posting more frequently during business hours while gaining on average 16.31 interactions during workday hours. However, during off-hours and weekends, photos get about 15 interactions.

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If you’re posting a photo, Instagram still holds the theme of being on 24/7 with the interaction levels remaining the same throughout the day; yet, when posting a video there are differing results. With the average number of interactions at 33.44, Instagram videos are best posted during off-hours (9pm-8am EST) gaining on average 33.44 interactions.

It might be because of the sound component for videos with Instagram, so they pose to be difficult to watch in secrecy during the work-day or it could be that more people have time to watch videos after work.

When it comes to figuring out the best time of day or best day of the week to get the most out of your posting strategy should reflect your audience and when they interact with you the most.


5. For every 33 likes you get 1 comment on average

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It’s easy to like a post on Instagram because it only takes a “double-tap” of a finger to do it; however, comments take a little extra work. With the Fortune 500, likes make up about 97% of the average interactions with comments taking a sliver of 3%.

Keep this in mind when posting onto Instagram, as it looks like conversation on Instagram may be a fruitless effort. You’re bound to get some of the billion likes that happen daily.


6. The Golden Number of Hashtags

Many experts advise against using more than two hashtags at a time and I even considered it an extreme social media faux pas to hashtag more than once. Except the data on hashtags on Instagram crushed all of those former thoughts.

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With larger brands on Instagram with more than 1,000 followers received on average 21.21 interactions per post. However the more startling numbers came in with accounts with less than 1,000 followers where a post with 11 hashtags received an average of 77.66 interactions.

With the surprising data behind the number of hashtags a brand can use for Instagram postings to increase interaction, it points out that users don’t just stop at the instant edit and upload. They also want to share, curate, and discover other images that they are interested in. Having the right number of hashtags will increase interactions and it will also allow for your posts to be discoverable in the search window and through a simple click from the user on the hashtag. Don’t go hashtag crazy, but adding a number of relevant hashtags to your posts can increase their visibility to users who share in the interests you are posting about.


7. The most clicked URL to put on Instagram

Instagram mainly functioned as a mobile app, until about a year ago when it opened up desktop browser profiles. It still functions on mobile as you cannot take a picture from your computer and upload it to your account.

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But that isn’t to say you should just have a mobile focus. When looking at an Instagram profile on a browser on your desktop you are able to click on the links provided in the profile taking you to whatever destination they link to. For example, if you are recruiting for new hires and your Instagram reflects your company culture, why not insert a link at the top to the job listings? Try out different CTA’s in your profile description to target all users coming in to view your posts.

8. Filters, hashtags, photos and videos aside, your audience is your champion.

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About 13% of internet users use Instagram with varying demographics. Just like every social media channel though there are ways to make the most out of each without forgetting about your number one priority — your audience.

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This isn’t a startling graph because the pieces of data in it tells us what we already know. Interaction levels increase as followers increase and Instagram is an “efficient” social platform in that an increase in followers will be roughly correlated with a proportional increase in average interactions. Keeping your Instagram strategy audience focused shows that increased followers with inevitably increase interactions as well too.

Update: Buffer has created a quick guide for gaining your first 1,000 Instagram followers: you’re welcome to check it out here!

Not Just For Vintage-Looking Photos Anymore

Instagram itself has evolved way beyond the stereotypical latte art, sunsets, corgi puppies, and a good-looking dinner (ok, I’m still guilty in uploading all of these images), and is a visually stimulating platform that brands should take advantage of to share their message.

Craving more data…or Corgi pictures filtered in Mayfair? Check out the rest of TrackMaven’s Instagram Report.

Want more social media tips? Take Buffer’s free email course!

Buffer has put together a list of 25 practical social media strategies—and we’d love to share them with you via email. (We’ll also keep you in the loop with more social media tips!)

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Written by Sabel Harris

Sabel is the Director of Marketing at TrackMaven, the competitive intelligence platform for enterprise marketers. The way to her heart is to spit out any ’90s rap lyric, but she’ll also settle for some characters on Twitter, too. Find her at @sabelharris.

  • Number 5 seems disappointing. That ratio is a bummer.

    • Sabel Harris

      Definitely agree with that, especially if you want to start a conversation and Instagram doesn’t cultivate that. Thanks for reading though, Jacob!

    • This is OK though, since the stat is based on Fortune 500. The bigger the community, the lower the engagement, and comments = high engagement. For smaller accounts and brands that build more personal relationships, like-to-comment ratio will be better.
      IG is great for starting conversations indeed, despite the fact that fluctuations in your comment count will be much larger than those in your like count. You just need the right picture that has a hidden call-to-action, a pic that stirs up strong emotions, or a caption with an engaging caption, and you’re good to go.
      Check out accounts like the one of TransWorld Snowboarding for examples

      • Sarina Larson

        I think this is a great conclusion, Branko. I also believe that users or companies with low brand awareness can benefit from using more hashtags in start-up phases. This is because it will force them to eventually research hashtags and their posting rate, and understand which ones drive traffic and which ones do not.

    • Thanks for reading though, Jacob!

  • Nice post Sabel, pretty informative:)

    • Sabel Harris

      Thanks Evan!! 😀

  • Kay

    Some really interesting and useful stats.

    • Sabel Harris

      Thanks Kay! 🙂

  • #6 is great! Sparing tagging on IG shows that the person posting must be used to Twitter, but your data Sabel shows that those two networks don’t work that way. Thx:) !

  • Sookie

    Is there a way to schedule Instagram pictures? Looking for an app that does this for a long time now, please share.

    • LeoWid

      Hey Sookie, that’d be amazing to do! But unfortuantely we don’t quite have that yet, but hopefully soon as Instagram opens their API!

      • Lok Cheung

        I always thinks there’s Instagram API because Hipstamatic could post photos to Instagram, am I right?

        • No it would share the photo to the Instagram app to be posted. There are APIs for data, but not for posting which can only be done via their official apps. Whenever anyone tries to allow uploads from an unofficial source (i.e. Windows Phone instagram client) they quickly close it.

    • CFW T

      I just started using Latergramme! However because of instagram rules you must press the send button yourself “real time”. But you can schedule a variety and then it will alert you when its time to push the button.
      follow us @legacyandcompany 🙂 hope it works for you

  • iambeastmode13

    follow me me @iambeastmode13

  • Great stats! Thanks for sharing the info.

  • Devyn

    Follow me @___dev__

  • @Jackson100

    Follow @lmarr92 for likes and follows

  • BrendanG

    Follow me @brendangabrielmurphy (Filmmaker & Photographer)

  • Tifffany

    Follow me on insta 😉 @tiffythekitty

  • Neiman Catley

    Thanks… That was insightful.

  • Tiff

    follow me on ig @tiffany_just pleasee:)

  • sab

    where are all the asians on instagram?? haha

  • @HairbyCalvina

    Very informative.
    Follow me @hairbycalvina

  • Zo

    Can I sign in with Instagram to post? Follow me @Fronsyme

  • Parsa

    Follow me and ill follow everyone back! @parrsa

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    Follow me @tyler_osterhout

  • Aead

    My account is @alicdelhanty

  • cece

    Very helpful!

  • You can cross market your product from instagram to twitter and twitter to instagram. I do it from twitter to instagram by adding a photo url in my tweets with appropriate hashtag and then blasting the tweet with thousands of retweets and favorites! that helps me a lot! http://www.fiverr.com/tweetretweet/add-10100-retweets-and-favorites-to-your-tweet-to-optimize-your-twitter-and-seo

  • Some great insights there, I’ve been saying to include more hashtags to people for a while. But if you want to avoid flooding your other social channels (eg FB & Twitter) with ‘ugly’ hashtags type your original short copy then add them as a second comment.

    • Agreed! Although Facebook uses hashtags now too.

    • Sarina Larson

      i agree. I also believe that users or companies with low brand awareness can benefit from using more hashtags in start-up phases. This is because it will force them to eventually research hashtags and their posting rate, and understand which ones drive traffic and which ones do not.

    • I usually add hashtags on instagram then go on facebook and edit the caption to remove them.

    • Im_jevans

      Exactly what I do. Description then comment below with Hashtags I beleive there is a max of 30 tags per post.

    • Thanks for reading though, Jacob!

  • olmo_coder

    intesting read. Thank you!

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  • I found it so interesting to know that tons of hashtags actually works on Instagram. I remember people getting annoyed by it on Twitter. It’s also a great way to find other like-minded Instagrammers.

  • Josie

    I love blogs like this, they’re like life hacks. It’s very interesting to see the detail; time of day, day of the week, etc where Instagram drives the most traffic. I wanted to share this blog with everyone, just because I think its helpful: http://www.s-trip.com/live/top-6-diy-travel-hacks/ check it out if ya feel like it!

  • Great article Sabel! it’s what I was looking for. I believe this will help me drive better campaigns on Instagram for my accounts.

    God bless. =D

    Jonathan Proaño

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  • PJ McFlur

    I fill up hashtags on IG and get a good response from it. I personally enjoy clicking hashtags and seeing what comes up. Its great to search your local area instead of the entire world. 🙂

  • Mike L.

    #4 is the only one that didn’t seem to be too accurate in my experience, my photos always get most likes when posted between 9am – 11am, mainly just people getting too work i believe is the best time to kill time

  • Wondering

    What is the name of that popular filter everyone is using now?

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  • kajla00007

    First impressions are almost always based purely on the visual. This is
    because we as humans are drawn to each other by looks. Having a good
    profile photo can bring your social networking or dating site more
    quality views regardless of the content within the page, because more
    people will desire to look further into the person in the photograph.

  • Orna @ OrnaBakes

    Great article, thank you Sabel. Should you use hashtags in your Profile too? eg. former #weightwatchers leader

  • “No filter” does not mean there is no filter, it just means that the photo was not edited with a filter in Instagram. Most people use third party editing apps.

  • Shivani – Insights India

    Impressive, but is there any country-wide splits on these numbers so that we could make it relevant locally too.

  • It amazes me how big social media has gotten. I think I read an article that said social media is the number one thing being used on the internet.

  • Agree! For every 33 likes, I really find amazing comments! And it is the hashtags that matters the most!!

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  • Impressive article! It’s good to know that instagram helped a lot of people now a days by using #hashtags. Using hashtags actually promote someones businesses and become popular. Keep it up! It gives lot of information especially to the beginner.


  • TamMariee

    Hi, my name is TamMariee. I’m really interested in your story. I was wondering how you did it? How’d you get your fan base up? How do you decide what you’re going to talk about? What made you want to become a blogger?

  • TommyThePretty

    Some great ideas can be found here, thank you Sabel! I’d like to share a little tip that can once help you. It’s a web app fast-unfollow.com, and the name speaks for itself: it allows to unfollow up to 5000 users per day. I was always looking for something like that, but until recently the best apps were instagress and unfollowgran, but they are too slow, about 5-10 times slower that fast-unfollow, and they’ve got a function that i reject categorically – their bots drive up the numbers. So if you’re only looking to get rid of unnecessary people – it’s meant for you.

  • Hey Sabel!

    Great post. That once Instagram study you did on TrackMaven has been golden. I see it everywhere.

    Sponsored posts on large accounts are one of the best ways to grow your audience and slowly, overtime, nurture them into customers.

    I’ve interviewed a bunch of people that have built massive followings this way and been doing myself for a while.

    I thought you’d like to see what some average rates looks like for sponsored posts. I built this spreadsheet when I was doing research for a post on getting more Instagram followers on my blog (http://www.abetterlemonadestand.com/how-to-get-more-followers-on-instagram/):

  • Hi! I really like the post! im very surprised by some facts.

    ..I have been looking for a page or app that can tell me the general profile of my average followers – as in, where are they mostly from, are they female? how old.. etc

    is there anything you can recommend??


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    Ifpl.us is the best place to find your Instagram statistics.

  • Day Walker

    hey i tried a service on the web it uses autoliking to bring you new Real active followers, i ve been used it since 2014 it increased my business so quicklly, i advice everyone want a step forward of his busness to uses it http://www.gramfox.com and by the way they are using hashtags for targeting kind of people you want

  • Kirk Leon

    Great post, thanks! Nice statistics info. And you know I use special app – zen-promo.com – to find real followers. And this way I keep my statistic and account in top =)

  • Ilya Protasov

    Hello Sabel! I like very much articles about statistics, especially about social networks. Thanks a lot for it!
    Here you can finf great tool for Instagram statistics for any accounts http://marketertricks.com/instagram/instagram-statistics More than 24 metricks.
    And also it can be very useful for quick search most popular posts. I hope you and readers will enjoy! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab4cc546d43dfa542a639d6260722eb8f137e47fc5dfcf5397dad21ea77261a9.jpg

  • Thanks Evan! +1