Friday, March 13, 2015

Brand Following and Engagement on Instagram

Following the blog on Instagram’s new advertisement tool last week, I will post several hard facts about marketing on Instagram.

Recently, a new study by digital think tank L2 pointed out that the number of Instagram follower does not proportionately related to engagement rate for brands on this innovative social platform. L2 tracked the Instagram activities of 250 major brands in nine categories --- auto, beauty, consumer electronics, drinks, fashion, retail, sportswear, travel, and watches and jewelry - over the last year. The results are showed in the graph below:

Of all the brands, Nokia has the highest engagement by far, despite its relatively small and stagnant following. Companies with the best correlation between audience and engagement - including Nike, Starbucks, GoPro, Aeropostale, and Victoria's Secret Pink - generally share a combination of millennial popularity, strong lifestyle branding, and iconic visuals.

However, we do notice one thing that helps increase engagement --- variety of content, such as mixing in lifestyle photography and celebrities, rather than solely posting product shots. Looking at the top 200 photos by engagement rate, the study saw a disproportionate number of photos from Patagonia, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Maserati. While Maserati's strongest impression was a photo of a car, those for PBR and Patagonia were photos of Bill Murray wearing shorts covered in the beer company's logo and a ski mountain, respectively, images that aren't solely of the brand's products.

Moreover, one thing that doesn't increase engagement is posting more often; the study actually found an inverse relationship between post frequency and engagement. The average brand posted 110 photos during the first quarter and achieved 1.15 percent engagement. During the third quarter - at which point brands were officially posting more content to Instagram than to Facebook, partially because of the former's younger audience and less-restrictive algorithm - brands posted an average of 9 more photos, and saw engagement drop to 1.03 percent.

In general, automotive brands, particularly Mazda, have the highest engagement. But the sportswear category isn't far behind, with above-average engagement, in addition to having a strong growth rate within its community - by far the largest, of all the industries. No brand encapsulates that better than Nike.

Nike is above-average in growth and engagement, while maintaining a massive following of nearly 13 million users. The sportswear giant also leads in brand hash-tagged posts. Starbucks and Chanel are the second and third follower, with about 20,000 less each.

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