600 Million Users Can’t be Wrong…

Instagram users embrace brands and brand interaction

600 Million active users and counting, Instagram is growing rapidly and has shown no signs of decelerating their growth rate. According to eMarketer, Instagram is expected to grow 15.1% this year, compared to a 3.1% growth expected for the social network sector as a whole. In addition, eMarketer said the platform will add 26.9 million new users over the next four years.

What does this mean for brands and marketers?

If you are not engaging your customers and fans on Instagram you are missing a big opportunity.

You need to take the time now to explore the platform’s potential for your brand. Review some of America’s biggest brands — the Fortune 500 — Instagram pages, how they interact with their fans, the quality and type of images they post that drive engagement. This can give you some great insights and inspiration for building your own Instagram strategy and storyboard.

The 2016 The Fortune 500 Instagram Report, TrackMaven analyzed how these top American brands are using Instagram to discover the key components and engagement of their top performing posts and most effective posting times. They developed specific examples of brands doing it right by reviewing a full year of posting data to compile the report.

While this report digs into how the big guys are using Instagram, the beauty of social media is that it’s accessible and effective for even the smallest businesses at a relatively low cost.

Here are some key of the findings from the report along with some tips that can help guide your big or small brand’s Instagram engagement and marketing efforts:

1. Instagram adoption among Fortune 500 brands has doubled

According to the report, TrackMaven found that 50% of Fortune 500 companies are using Instagram, which is up from 24.6% in 2013. A 2015 study conducted by the University of Dartmouth found that Instagram usage by Fortune 500 companies now surpasses Google+ and Pinterest.

With teenagers and millennials being the most active on Instagram, coupled with the huge growth of the platform in general, I think it’s safe to say that Fortune 500 companies are pivoting their strategies to focus on the next generation of consumers — meeting them on their turf.

Instagram may not be a viable social media platform for every brand, but it should certainly be considered. Determining whether its a good fit will ultimately depend on who your ideal customer and audience is, as well as your business objectives.

2. It’s all about engagement that drives the bus today

In the report, TrackMaven stated: “For America’s biggest brands, Instagram is a sheer engagement game, not a reactive, community platform.”

What does this mean exactly? TrackMaven is suggesting that in order to find success on Instagram you must be present and actively work to draw your audience in. Throwing up any old photo and expecting people to show their enthusiasm with a like or comment isn’t a viable strategy; you are wasting your time and effort with this approach. Pack your bags and go home or adapt to meet your customers expectations.

You need to be transparent, authentic, honest and personable along with providing your audience with quality photos and videos that will engage them as they scroll through their feed. As for measuring engagement, start with looking at the likes and comments your posts receive, make a list of characteristics that your top performing posts have in common. There are a number of free (and paid) tools such as Hootsuite, Simply Measured, Buffer or Locowise that can help you gain some great insights.

TrackMaven found that 98.9% of Instagram interactions came in the form of likes or “double taps,” with the remaining 1.1% representing comments. Thus, if you notice that comments are tough to come by, but you’re getting good engagement through likes. Don’t worry. The big brands are experiencing the same thing; that's the nature of Instagram.

3. Ask questions and use hashtags.

According to the report, Instagram posts that included hashtags or question marks saw a marginal boost in engagement over those that didn’t have either. Using exclamation marks reduced engagement.

Asking your audience questions encourages engagement and interactions. Hashtags provide a way for people to find your content, so including them is a must. To find relevant hashtags, search Instagram, look at your competitors posts or use a database such as Hashatit or Hashtagify.me.

4. The best dates and times to post.

TrackMaven’s research found that Tuesday through Friday were the most common posting times for Fortune 500 brands.

17.11% of all Instagram posts are on Thursdays; 88% of posts were published between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

There’s a lot of competition during business hours on weekdays. Try taking advantage of less competitive times, like weekend days. While you’ll probably have fewer users on the weekend, you may get better engagement for your band as a result of less competition. According to the report, Fortune 500 brands saw the most engagement on their Instagram posts on Sundays.

,Social Media is all about engagement, being human, transparent and authentic.

What Social Media Platform is Right for Your Brand?

Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Brand?

Examples of Fortune 500 Brands in Action


TrackMaven sighted Nike as the “Most Popular Brand” on Instagram, with 50 million followers and counting.

“Nike’s Instagram popularity is driven by brand recognition and outstanding Instagram content; the brand averages 469,842 interactions per Instagram photo, twice the average engagement seen by the Starbucks in 2nd place with 212,140 average interactions per post,” the report said.

Nike uses both colorful images and videos to engage their followers — along with the athletes they work with and everyday people to inspire fitness. Below is a great example of using an athlete to relate to their audience and inspire engagement.

Follow Nike on Instagram.


Publix was given the title of “Most Impressive Instagram Growth,” after launching its account in late 2015 and growing their following to over 30,000 by May 2016. From snack ideas to shoutouts on Holidays, to images that show the history of Publix. Publix connects its posts and products to the everyday things in people’s lives.

Here’s an example of a one pot meal that received more than 2700 likes.

Follow Publix on Instagram.

Foot Locker

Foot Locker tied with Live Nation for the honor of “Most Avid Instagrammers.” According to TrackMaven, Foot Locker averaged nearly 3.5 photos a day during the year of study. Many of the posts are product driven, but they also highlight current events in sports or pop culture. The example below combines the product launch of the Air Jordan Retro High OG Shoes.

Follow Foot Locker on Instagram.

Live Nation

As the winner of “Most Avid Instagrammer,” Live Nation led Fortune 500 brands with the most video posts across the year of study. As a company that puts on music and entertainment events, they bring their audience a sneak peek of what they’ll experience at an event, along with intimate artist interviews.

Follow Live Nation on Instagram.


While Live Nation produces the most Instagram videos, Disney gets the most engagement on their videos–with more than 7 million video interactions on their video content during the year of study. This image plugging the wholesomeness of Disney’s posted 22 hours ago and has already earned more than 269,000 views and more than 250 comments. Disney’s videos and images can be cute, sweet, funny and most of all, reflect the magic that happens at the Kingdom.

Follow Disney on Instagram.


Starbucks took TrackMaven’s “Best All-Around Instagram Account” award for its large audience, inspiring engagement and posting frequency. For me, I think what is so brilliant about their strategy is that it can cross market both delicious food and put a drink in your hand during any activity, holiday or state-of-mind. Take for example this recent post on a staring contest. Not only is the image remarkable, authentic and real but its humorous and engaging.

Follow Starbucks on Instagram.

Download the full 2016 The Fortune 500 Instagram Report.

Are you currently using Instagram as part of your social media marketing mix? What tips would you share with other marketers? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on using Instagram, how you are using Social Media and Instagram to engage your customers and fans in the comments section below.