How do the world’s biggest brands approach Instagram marketing?

Instagram has become an essential part of any brand's social media strategy - but how many of the world's biggest companies are active and when do they post?

Instagram for marketing

Instagram enjoyed an impressive year in 2016 – growing more rapidly in one year than it had in the previous five.

The photo-sharing app announced towards the end of the year that its monthly active user base had surpassed the 600-million mark, which marked an increase of 100 million users in just six months.

Brands were quick to tap into this increased userbase. Earlier this year Instagram revealed that eight million companies had business profiles, with one million of those advertising on a monthly basis. That figure was up from 200,000 in just 12 months.

Now we can gain some insight into how some of the world’s biggest brands use Instagram thanks to research carried out by TrackMaven.

The marketing analytics firm studied a year’s worth of Instagram activities by companies on the Fortune 500. The list of the most valuable U.S. firms includes B2C brands like Nike, Disney and Starbucks, as well as B2C organisations such as ManpowerGroup, Omnicon and Western Union.

While the results are hardly groundbreaking, they do enable marketers a peek at the Instagram activities of some of the world’s biggest brands. How do they compare to your own brand’s strategy?

How Fortune 500 brands use Instagram

TrackMaven analysed a year’s worth of Instagram content from Fortune 500 brands, covering 41,071 unique Instagram posts.

How many brands are active?

Instagram for marketing

According to the research, Fortune 500 companies are more likely to use Instagram the higher up the list they are (companies on the Fortune 500 are ranked by revenue). Interestingly, some 42 per cent of brands in the top 100 are still not active on the app; this increases to 50 per cent when looking at the 500 list as a whole. Considering Instagram’s rapid growth over the past 12 months or so this is somewhat surprising.

Perhaps there is still a prevailing attitude among B2B companies that their customers aren’t on Instagram. There might be some mileage in this view, but B2B brands who are choosing to shun Instagram could be missing a huge opportunity to promote their values and services.

When do they post?

Instagram for marketing

Top brands tend to post most often during the working week, with Thursday and Friday just edging it in terms of being the two most popular days to post on. Weekends are relative Instagram graveyards, with Sunday in particular being a barren day for Fortune 500 activity.

Instagram hasn’t released any data on when its users are most active, but one can assume large brands have carried out extensive testing on the most effective days to post. With social media scheduling tools being so prevalent, there is no excuse for a brand not being active on weekends.

Instagram for marketing

Hootsuite has revealed that the best time to post on Instagram is between 12pm-1pm on weekdays – in other words when people are on a lunchbreak. That is reflected in when the Fortune 500 companies are most active on their Instagram accounts – between the hours of 11am and 2pm.

However, their activity tails off once the working day is over, when it should spike back up in line with the inevitable evening peak. Once again, this could be B2B brands restricting their activity to the working day and therefore bringing the overall average down.

When is engagement highest?

Instagram for marketing

TrackMaven also analysed posts for engagement rates, and the results contrast with posting patterns. Despite Fortune 500 companies being less active on Sundays, that is the day when their posts attract greatest engagement from their audience. Similarly, the times that got most engagement were outside of working hours, which was when brands were least likely to post.

Instagram for marketing

It’s particularly interesting to note that the period of the day with least engagement comes during the hours when brands are at their most active – the hours between 11am and 2pm. Perhaps there is a lesson here that it might be best to steer clear of the periods when Instagram and other channels are saturated by new content, therefore clogging up user’s timelines and news feeds.

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