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SimplyMeasured-Top-Brands-Instagram-Activity-Engagement-in-Q3-Nov2014Instagram continues to build its user base – and its becoming a favorite of top brands too. Indeed, a new study [download page] from Simply Measured notes that 86 of the Interbrand 100 had an account on the mobile network during Q3 2014, up from 54 a couple of years earlier. Moreover, the number of brands posting at least once a week has almost doubled during that time frame, jumping from 38 to 73. So what’s motivating them?

As the study details, brands’ growing efforts on the platform (20 now post at least daily, more than triple the amount doing so last year) are paying off in the form of larger audiences, as 34 more brands this year have at least 10,000 followers and 15 more have at least 100,000 followers.

More importantly, the data reveals that growth in post engagement is outpacing brand adoption of Instagram. In other words, Instagram users are proving receptive to brand content, and engagement rates haven’t dampened as a result of increased brand activity.

In fact, the average engagement per post for top brands using the platform is now 5 times higher (18,822 likes and comments per post) than it was two years ago (3,648).

In an interesting analysis, the study notes that comments on posts tend to occur quickly, as half are made in the first 6 hours after posting and three-quarters in the first 48 hours after posting. Not too surprisingly, the time distribution of comments for high-performing posts (those with double the average engagement) is quite different to low-performing posts (those with half the average engagement). The most engaging posts take more than 13 hours to get to half of their comments, while the least engaging take less than 3 hours to get to that mark.

For the Simply Measured analysts, this represents another reason to focus on quality. Brands should remember that Instagram doesn’t filter its feed – so users scroll through a single stream, and only top-quality images and videos will catch their attention long after posting.

That single stream also means that brands have to be careful about how they time their posts. As Instagram doesn’t resurface content (as does Facebook, for example), marketers must be cognizant of brand activity on the platform so as to avoid being lost in the clutter. Indeed, the high engagement rates brands are seeing on Instagram served as the impetus for a MarketingCharts report on this topic. The study custom-sourced data specific to mid-size US brands (it’s fairly useless to measure timing on a global level) to understand how post timing affects engagement rates. In mapping brand activity against engagement rates, the study found somewhat of an inverse relationship, suggesting that timing does in fact play a role. (Download the study – which comes accompanied by an Excel spreadsheet with the specific data – to see the optimal posting times, in EST.)

Returning to the Simply Measured report, the data indicates that automotive brands are the most heavily represented from the Interbrand 100, though its media brands that are the most active, also drawing the most engagement. These sectors – along with luxury and apparel – are said to have found the most success thus far.

In other actionable data offered in the report:

  • The average caption is 138 characters long including hashtags (has Twitter conditioned brands?), but there is no statistically significant correlation between caption length and engagement.
  • Posts that include at least one @mention (which represent 36% of posts tracked) have engagement levels 56% higher than those that don’t include a mention;
  • Almost 9 in 10 posts from top brands include a hashtag, and these posts average 12.6% more engagement than those lacking a hashtag (note that hashtags are important for content discovery on Instagram); and
  • While only about 1 in 20 posts were tagged with a location, these averaged 29% higher engagement than those without a location tagged.

About the Data: The “Simply Measured Q3 2014 Instagram Study” looks at the Instagram activity of the Interbrand 2013 Top 100 Brands. Statistics cited in the study are based on data from Q3 2014 (7/1/14 – 9/30/14). All data was analyzed using Simply Measured’s social media analytics and reporting platform.

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