Social media is constantly evolving. As soon as you feel like you’ve got Facebook and Twitter figured out, suddenly there’s Vine and Snapchat and a whole bunch of exciting new stuff to learn.

It keeps things interesting, and keeps social media managers on our toes.

Lately it seems like more and more social media managers are enthusiastic about Instagram and the opportunities there to engage with fans and share great photos and videos.

And the opportunities are big! With more than 300 million active users, Instagram is giving brands some great results. A Forrester study found that top brands’ Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%—58 times more engagement than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter!

instagram engagement



We’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with Buffer’s own Instagram account and were excited to learn more. So we reached out to our friends at Made Freshly, whose Instagram game is pretty much undeniable.

They made us an awesome infographic that covers everything you need to know to make Instagram work for you and your brand: tips and stats on growing your followers, creating a marketing flow and making sales directly from Instagram.

3 elements of Instagram

Check it out (details and citations for all the stats listed are directly underneath) and if you want to dive even deeper into Instagram check out their Instagram Marketing Master Guide ebook here. Happy ‘gramming!

BufferInstagramInfographicPlus 20 phenomenal Instagram stats

On growing your Instagram followers

What to post?

Instagram timing

Instagram hashtags

Instagram image qualities that can drive more likes

  • High lightness generates 24 percent more likes
  • Lots of background space generates 29 percent more likes
  • A single dominant color generates 17 percent more likes than multicolored images
  • 67% of consumers say detailed images strongly influences their purchase decision


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Written by Courtney Seiter

Courtney writes about social media, diversity and workplace culture at Buffer. She runs Girls to the Moon on the side and pets every dog she sees.

  • Rachel Daley

    Great as always working with you Courtney and Buffer Crew 🙂 Thanks for having us!

    • Thank YOU, Rachel! I learned a lot from this infographic! 🙂

  • Mark Longbottom

    Some really good solid information, I’d ignore the ‘brands post 6 times a week’ line and do what feels best. I recall talking with a Facebook presenter 4 years ago who said the average pages should post per day was 1. Which went against teh grain of the most active pages at the time, likewise Instagram r any platform should have no hard and fast rule to how many times to post s it depends on your audience, I’ve just hot 500,000 likes in under 10 months never automate, schedule anything and don’t buy likes or followers just engage everyday with people who matter. The stats and the comments above relate to genuine activity of real people, don’t fall for the competitions though like facebook pages in the early days people who enter competitions don’t always stay with you when they aren’t the 1 winner. Far better to build a community who supports and talks to each other than a greedy desperate wannabes. Communities care and share, good suff though.

    • Hey Mark, awesome points here! Being present and engaged in your community is always a great strategy! I find that benchmarks can help motivate me. Seeing that most accounts post 6 times a week encouraged me to try a weekend Instagram post from the Buffer account (which we normally don’t do) and it was quite well received. 🙂

      • Mark Longbottom

        I have to admit I post between 30 and 90 a day usually around 45. It only takes around 60 to 90 genuine minutes again all manual as that’s the only way to go for me. I could spend longer on there, I know what works and what doesn’t and if people don’t like the activity in the timeline they don’t follow but do check the #tag i use.

        You are right the benchmarks help, but they only come through natural and consistent activity.

        The 6 thing reminds me of when people said just post 6 or 9 tweets a day, like talking you don’t stop when you have something to say and wait till the next day as your quota has been used up for words. So why stop posting if the community connected are ok then it’s part of everyday life.

        Weekends are like any day, people are online. Businesses should stop whinging on Monday and yaying on Friday and enjoy everyday similar to their customers who are online anytime.

        I don’t go with things that say Tuesday at 6pm is best when a full moon either, if you are genuinely active you will know when is best for your community and then there’ll be a day when you post out of sync and get the best response.

        No stats or technology can tell you what your instincts tell you. I do now what i did in my mail art days in the 1980’s, then MySpace then Facebook and now Instagram and that’s to interact with people globally regardless of rules but always connected to them.

        • Rachel Daley

          Very true Mark! You have to learn what your audience cares about, what they like, and when they like it. These are just guidelines to get people started with a frame of mind. Do you use Iconosquare to track your metrics?

          • Mark Longbottom

            I understand the format above is a framework to start from and then we learn by doing, so many agencies and businesses don’t get social media becasue they aren’t active users, they tend to be working it rather than seeing it as an intuitive way to interact with people.

            I do use Iconosquare but only as a marker and not religiously, like any social media platform I get more from being there than looking over graphs and charts. The more active we are and the more the activity is part of our day the more we will do things instinctively, businesses pushing on the hour every hour because they feel they save time are often missing the opportunity to actually interact with the people connected to them.

            I like Iconosquare as a base to go do things but not to stay generating loads of charts and spreadhseets, last Tuesday was supposedly my best day the week before Friday the week before than Sunday.

            Talking to people you can find out more and after all it is about being sociable, well it is for me and has been since I started doing this in 1983. Everyone else will catch up one day lol

  • I think this path will also vastly change once Instagram advertising and new platform possibilities are in place. Instagram will allow us to start linking to external websites through their CTA buttons, negating the need to drive people to our bio and click the link in there.

    Here’s a fun Instagram hack – you can play around with the location of the photograph and actually insert a link in there!

    • Yup, I think you’re totally right, Avtar! Love your hack; so cool what people think of to work around constraints!

    • Rachel Daley

      The location tag is a great hack Avtar. The more places you make your link available, the better your chances of getting your people to click it!

  • Great post and really enjoy the infographics here Courtney. Have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂

  • Denis Smith

    Thanks for the heads up. Of course I was aware of Instagram’s effectiveness for marketing when browsing Cpaelites forum. Maybe many people there are doing some blackhat stuff but some are making remarkable money. My question would be:

    1. Where do we get these engaging images
    2. How do we promote our links? By watermarking on the image or?


    • Rachel Daley

      Hey Denis, to answer your questions:

      1. You make the images! You can mix up your content with photos from your customers/users and other relevant sources – but at the end of the day it’s up to you. Find what your audience likes, (using Iconosquare to track the success of your posts) and post more stuff like that!
      2. If you want to send someone to a site or page, include that link in your Instagram bio (there is a section specifically for links). I recommend using Bitly or Google URL Shortener to shorten your links to put there. Then in the caption of your post, you’ll want to include a Call To Action telling people to literally, “Click the link in bio to get ____” whatever you are promoting.

      Hope that helps!

      • Matt Litkie

        Hi, so this is a little delayed but we have just developed a tool so you never have to change the link in your it is called LinkPerch you keep one link and then use a code that will reirect you to the page you would want them to go to, here’s a blog article that explains it in detail. Sorry if this sounds spamy but this has really helped some of the brands we work with and has produced some good results 🙂

  • Awesome info Courtney.

    Driving engagement on Instagram is super simple (engagements there are generally fairly low-level) but using the site to drive sales without the high costs of their paid ads ($350k-$1million/month) has certainly been a challenge for most. Presenting the steps in an easy to follow infographic makes social selling seem simple. 🙂

  • Justin Bowen

    Thank you for the great blog with valuable information. In your opinion and insight, how much more growth do you see Instagram having over the next 6 months? Do you think brands are really starting to catch on to how it can be an amazing marketing tool? And do you see personal and business brands having the right tools and information to truly utilize Instagram?

  • NCC

    Really useful post- thanks for sharing! It’s all a bit slower in South Africa…internet is very slow and people don’t use social media like they do in USA or UK, but we’ll get there and it’s fun to be part of a worldwide community and see what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for your insights 🙂

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  • We have developed a way to actually make the sale from your page…come check it out.

  • This infographic (and these awesome tips) are very helpful – thanks! Gonna go follow MadeFreshly right now! 🙂

  • octanego

    for sharing your valuable information on your site; I will share your article
    to my friends also so that they can understand about in this huge market.
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  • Tipsographic

    Hello Courtney, great infographic! Please, could we share it on our website (of course credited)? Thanks a lot, Stefania

  • Matt Litkie

    Hi Courtney this is super helpful thank you 🙂 We have recently developed a tool called Linkperch which allows you to keep one link in your bio that you will never have to change again, I might reach out to you on twitter as well 😉 but if you would like to check out all the detais here is a link to he blog post If you manage to check it out or pass it on to someone who would find it handy please do so 🙂