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Instagram: Photo-Sharing App to Key Platform; What Brands Need to Know

If your lasting impression of Instagram is of carefully cropped shots of amazing sunsets, exotic locales, sizzling celebrities, scrumptious food, and good doggos, then you need to check the app out again.


“While the app was initially meant for still images, content creators and everyday users can now share photos and videos in various forms, like Story postsInstagram Reels, and long-form videos on IGTV,” Caroline Forsey wrote in HubSpot’s article “How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work? (+Changes Brands Should Know in 2021)”.

Brands and marketers can ill afford to ignore the potential of the social media giant, which became even more powerful duringneonbrand-z3kBG5xIhjo-unsplash the COVID-19 pandemic as people looked for ways to connect with each other during lockdowns and other social distancing measures.


Consider some of these staggering current Instagram statistics:


  • Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users.
  • Instagram has 500 million daily active users.
  • Instagram is the sixth most popular social app worldwide trailing only Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat.
  • Instagram has more users in the United States (120 million) than any other country.
  • People spend an average of 28 minutes a day on Instagram.

Businesses Use Instagram for Brand Engagement

HubSpot says Instagram now has more than 25 million businesses on the app which will help the company reach $18 billion dollars in ad revenue this year.


“What was once a simple photo-sharing app is now a key business platform, supporting multinational brands and innovative entrepreneurs alike in achieving their brand engagement and growth goals,” says HubSpot in its Instagram Engagement Report, “2021 on Instagram: What Do the Numbers Say?”.


If your brand has been away from Instagram for a while there are a lot of new features to unpack from Stories to Reels to IGTV advertising to Instagram Shops and Instagram Guides.


Getting Up to Speed on Instagram Marketing

One of the reasons we love working with HubSpot at adWhite is the vast resources they make available to marketers. For example, the Instagram algorithm article is just one available on the app with titles such as:


Honestly, for our money the best starting point to jump into branding on Instagram is the Instagram Engagement Report that HubSpot and Mention teamed up on. The report is chock full of useful facts based on analysis of 100 million Instagram posts shared across one million users.


No Shortcut to Building an Audience on Instagram

While the potential for brands and marketers to connect with customers is great, there are no easy shortcuts to building an audience on Instagram.


“To effectively capture the attention of their desired audience, brands need to maintain a balance between implementing new strategies that will help increase their follower count and optimizing engagement and community-building efforts within their current follower base,” the report says.


The average number of followers per Instagram account is:


  • Under 1,000 followers: 53.6 percent
  • 1,001 to 10,000 followers: 38 percent
  • 10,001 to 50,000 followers: 6.2 percent
  • 50,001 to 100,000 followers: 0.9 percent
  • 100,001 to 1 million followers: 0.15 percent
  • 1 million+ followers: 0.14 percent
  • 10 million+ followers: 0.01 percent

Instagram Influencers Show Staying Power

Love them or hate them, Instagram influencers are apparently here to stay with their projected growth up almost $6 billion since 2020.

“But despite naysayers, influencers are proving that they’re here to stay. In fact, they’re projected to be bigger than ever in 2021, becoming a $13.8 billion dollar industry by the end of the year,” said the Influencer Marketing Hub 2021 benchmark report.  


Influencers can cut through the noise and help brands communicate with their customers in an authentic manner.


“Influencers create real connections by engaging their audiences with relevant content, which establishes a level of trust that businesses weren’t able to gain by themselves,” says the HubSpot report.


Top Brands and Categories on Instagram

Marketing on Instagram is not a level playing field as some categories and brands enjoy a built-in advantage depending on their product offerings. For example, 28.5 million users follow Italian luxury auto manufacturer @lamborghini, the most for any brand except for the official @Instagram account.


It should not be a surprise that the maker of out of this world sports cars is a top brand as “Home & Auto” is the Instagram business category with the most average followers with 192,000 average per account. That is some 4X higher than Content & Apps (50K followers) and Government Agencies (45K followers), the next highest two categories. Food & Personal Goods, Publishers, and Non-Profits & Religious Organizations round out the top five.


For some business categories, gaining traction is harder, such as the bottom five which all have less than 10,000 average followers:


  • Professional Services
  • Restaurants
  • Home Services
  • Business and Utility Services
  • Lifestyle Services

“Whether your brand is in the most competitive category or the least, it’s crucial to differentiate yourself from competitors, invest in your Instagram strategy, and showcase your unique value propositions to reach your intended audience,” says the HubSpot report.


5 Ways to Attract an Audience on Instagram

Okay, so you are not going to create an Instagram account, make your first post, and simply sit back and watch the business roll in. You will have to roll up your inbound marketing sleeves.


Here are five things that HubSpot says you can do to boost your Instagram audience:


  1. 1. Complete Your Instagram Profile: Make sure your bio is filled out with relevant keywords to your business. Also, create IG Stories highlights and easy-to-scroll Guides of your curated posts.
  2. 2. Consistently Post High-Quality Content: Emphasis on high-quality as posting content for content’s sake is never a winning strategy. Create thoughtful and useful content. Be sure to include detailed captions and relevant hashtags.
  3. 3. Respond and Interact with Your Community: You can not just post content on auto pilot, you have to be responsive by replying to comments, direct messages and follows. Look for engagement opportunities to share with your followers like asking questions in your Stories.
  4. 4. Collaborate with Influencers and Partner Brands: Boost your engagement by making it a team effort with influencers and partners that align with your goals, values, and brand.
  5. 5. Find the Right Content Balance: You need a variety of content posts such as images, videos, Stories, IGTV and Reels. Utilize all the avenues available to you to reach a wider audience.

Contact adWhite today to find out how we parlay our status as a HubSpot Platinum Partner to help your business develop an inbound marketing strategy that will attract, convert, close and delight your customers.