Instagram Revenue and Usage Statistics (2021)

Mansoor Iqbal

Updated: March 8, 2021

Instagram is a photo and short video sharing social network. It was founded in 2010 by software engineer Michel Krieger and computer programmer and former Google-employee Kevin Systrom. The iOS release took place in October 2010, and the Android in April 2012.

The idea for Instagram came when Systrom was holidaying with his partner in Mexico in 2010. He and Krieger had a developed a multi-feature social platform called Burbn, focused on location sharing. He was contemplating adding photo sharing to the platform.

His partner, however, protested that the photos taken on her iPhone 4 were not of a standard to share. Systrom’s solution was to apply filters to the pictures – which quickly became Instagram’s key selling point.

It quickly became apparent that the best course would be to pare down Burbn, which had already attracted $500,000 in seed funding, to focus on this element. Thus, Instagram was born.

In April 2012, it was sold to Facebook for $1 billion. Systrom remained on as CEO until 2018, when Krieger (head of engineering) also left the company.

Instagram was a hit – rapid gathering users to become one of the world’s biggest and most-influential social media platforms. By June 2018, the platform had hit 1 billion monthly active users

To the initial photo-focused functionality was added video sharing in 2013, and then Instagram Stories in 2016, which allows users to upload a short series of photos, which are deleted after 24 hours.

The latter may have been pilfered from Snapchat, but in terms of sheer user numbers it soon left its rival in the dust – with Stories alone boasting twice as many daily active users as its rival counts in total (500 million to 249 million).

Instagram has played a central role in 21st century popular culture, with popular users dubbed ‘influencers’. The name is apt, with followers of these popular users (the Kardashian klan in particular are synonymous with the platform) certainly being, well…influenced.

Instagram, consequently has become an important marketing platform. There is a dark side to this, of course. Aspiring to the perfect bodies and lives depicted in heavily-filtered and carefully-curated Instagram posts is potentially damaging to the mental health of those without the means to recreate what they see. Nonetheless, it has become central to many brands’ strategies.

There are a lot of Instagram stats out there – some of them wildly fluctuating. We’ve gathered a good proportion of them for you below. Read on if you want to learn who uses Instagram, the most successful brands and the most-followed users, how much marketers are investing in the platform, and much, much, more.

We’ll start with raw figures (under Key Statistics), with analysis following beneath.

Table of Contents

Instagram Overview and Key Statistics

Instagram User Statistics

Instagram Usage Statistics

Instagram Influencer Statistics

Instagram Influencer Marketing Statistics

Brands on Instagram

Shopping on Instagram

Instagram Revenue Statistics

Instagram Overview 

LaunchedOctober 2010
Parent companyFacebook (Since April 2012)
HQMenlo Park, California
Key peopleKevin Systrom (cofounder), Mike Krieger (cofounder), Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram)
Company typePublic (NASDAQ:FB)
IPO date18 May 2012

Key Instagram Statistics

  • 1 billion Instagram users (official statistics), 1.16 billion estimated as of Q3 2020 (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • 500 million daily active users of Instagram Stories (official statistics)
  • Gender split of Instagram users estimated at 51% female to 49% male (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • 70% of Instagram users are under 35 (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo is the most-followed person on Instagram, with 244 million followers in December 2020 (Social Blade)
  • After Instagram (382 million followers), National Geographic is the most-followed brand on Instagram, with 147 million followers as of December 2020 (Social Blade)
  • Fashion accounts for 25% of brand interactions on Instagram (Socialbakers)
  • 39% of brands spend over 20% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • Brands in the US and Canada spent $1.35 billion on influencer marketing in 2019, with Fashion Nova alone spending $40 million (Instascreener)
  • Instagram estimated to have brought in $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019, against total Facebook ad revenue of $70 billion (Bloomberg)

Jump to:

Key Instagram User Statistics

Key Instagram Usage Statistics

Key Instagram Brand Statistics

Key Instagram Influencer Statistics

Key Instagram Revenue Statistics

Other Key Instagram Statistics

Key Instagram User Statistics

Instagram users

Date (month/year)Monthly active users, millions

Source: various

Instagram users vs other top social apps

App nameMonthly active users, billions
Facebook Messenger1.3
Sina Weibo0.52


Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Instagram users vs other Facebook apps

App nameMonthly active users, billions*

*official stats, latest as of Q3 2020

Source: Facebook

Instagram Stories users

Date (month/year)Daily users, millions

Source: various

Instagram users by country

CountryMonthly active users, millions
South Korea16

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Instagram penetration by country, top markets

CountryPercentage of Instagram users among total internet users aged 16-64
Saudi Arabia76%
South Africa67%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Instagram penetration by country, other key markets

CountryPercentage of Instagram users among total internet users aged 16-64
Hong Kong62%
South Korea59%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Instagram penetration levels among US adults

Date (month/year)Percentage of US adults using Instagram

Source: Pew Research Center

Instagram users by age and gender

All usersFemaleMale
All ages51%49.1%

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Instagram US demographics

DemographicPercentage of Instagram users/demographic
Aged 18-2475%
Aged 25-2957%
Aged 30-4947%
Aged 60-6423%
Aged 65+8%
Household income: <$30,00035%
Household income: $30,000-$74,99939%
Household income: $75,000+42%
Educated to: High school or less33%
Educated to: Educated to: Some college37%
Educated to: College +43%
Urban base46%
Suburban base35%
Rural base21%

Source: Pew Research Center

Instagram users’ top interests

InterestPercentage of users interested
Food & Drink43%
Health & Fitness35%
Skin care/Cosmetics30%

Source: Facebook

Distribution of Instagram users by follower count

Follower countPercentage of users

Source: Hubspot

Most-followed Instagram accounts (individuals)

Account ownerFollowers, millions
Cristiano Ronaldo244
Ariana Grande208
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson205
Kylie Jenner202
Selena Gomez196
Kim Kardashian West192
Lionel Messi170
Justin Bieber152
Neymar Jr144
Kendall Jenner143
Taylor Swift141
Jennifer Lopez134
Khloé Kardashian123
Miley Cyrus117
Katy Perry108
Kourtney Kardashian104
Kevin Hart100
Demi Lovato94
Ellen DeGeneres92

*as of December 2020

Source: Social Blade 

Key Instagram Usage Statistics

Instagram users who use app multiple times per day, by age

AgePercentage using app multiple times daily

Source: Facebook

Instagram users who use app multiple times per day, by generation

GenerationPercentage using app multiple times daily
Gen Z67%
Gen X38%
Baby Boomers21%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Average daily time spent on Instagram

SourceAge/yearTime, minutes
FacebookUsers aged 2532
Users aged 25+24

*US users

Source: Facebook/eMarketer/Recode

Instagram average daily usage/visits


*SimilarWeb stats refer to visits, Alexa to daily usage. Stats pulled December 2020.

Source: Alexa/SimilarWeb

Percentage of Instagram users who have used features

FeaturePercentage of users
Watched a video clip38%
Created/viewed a story27%
Watched IGTV23%
Used live feature11%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Percentage of Instagram users who have viewed content types

Content typePercentage of users
Photos from brands68%
User content67%
Videos from brands66%
Influencer photos63%
Celebrity videos62%
Influencer videos62%
Celebrity videos61%

Source: Facebook

Percentage of users sharing content types on Instagram vs other platforms

Funny videos42%36%48%
Personal news/updates43%40%47%
Coronavirus news26%25%28%
Influencer posts16%13%24%
Brand posts14%11%21%
Non-coronavirus news21%19%21%
Brand/product recommendations15%12%21%

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Proportion of users who use Instagram as news source vs overall penetration among internet users by country

CountryNews usersOverall users
Hong Kong16%39%
South Korea9%38%
South Africa17%43%

Source: Reuters

Proportion of 18-24 year olds using Instagram as a news source by country

CountryPercentage of users
South Korea10%

Source: Reuters

Most-liked posts on Instagram, as of December 2020

AccountContentLikes, millions
Chris GodfreyEgg54.9
XXXTentacionFinal post before death22.4
Cristiano RonaldoIn remembrance of Diego Maradona19.5
Chadwick BosemanAnnouncement of death19.1
Kylie JennerPhoto of newborn daughter18.5
Jennifer AnistonFriends cast16.3
Lionel MessiIn remembrance of Diego Maradona16.2
Kylie JennerWishing Travis Scott happy birthday15.9
TentreePlanting trees in Indonesia15.5
LeBron JamesIn remembrance of Kobe Bryant15.4

Source: various

Median post engagement on Instagram by content format

Content typeLikesComments

Source: Hubspot

Key Instagram Brand Statistics

Most-followed brands on Instagram

BrandFollowers, millions
National Geographic147
Real Madrid94
FC Barcelona92
Victoria’s Secret69
UEFA Champion’s League67

*as of December 2020

Source: Social Blade

Brand content on Instagram by content type


Source: Socialbakers/Locowise via Hootsuite/We Are Social

Instagram brand account engagement rate by post format

Post formatEngagement rate

Locowise via Hootsuite/We Are Social

Instagram brand account engagement rate by follower count

Post formatEngagement rate

Locowise via Hootsuite/We Are Social

Instagram brand interactions by industry

IndustryPercentage of total interactions, Q3 2020
Sporting Goods3.7%

Source: Socialbakers

Values ascribed to brands on Instagram by users

ValuePercentage of users ascribing value
Community focused72%

Source: Facebook

Qualities sought by users in branded content on Instagram

QualitiesPercentage of users seeking value
Personally relevant46%
Beautifully produced36%

Source: Facebook

Actions taken after seeing product/service on Instagram

ActionPercentage of users taking action
Searched for more information79%
Visited brand website/app65%
Made a purchase46%
Visited a retail store37%
Followed brand account31%
Spoke to someone about brand29%

Source: Facebook

Actions taken after seeing product/service on Instagram

ActionPercentage of users taking action
Discover new products/services83%
Research products/services81%
Decide whether to buy products/services80%

Source: Facebook

Instagram CTR

Instagram StoriesInstagram Feed
Q2 20200.230.33
Q3 20200.240.33

Source: Socialbakers

Key Instagram Influencer Marketing Statistics

Marketers planning to use Instagram for influencer marketing in 2021 vs other platforms

Influencer marketing platformPercentage of marketers
online ads43%
Tv ads29%
OOH ads20%

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

Marketers who believe Instagram offers best influencer marketing ROI vs other platforms

Influencer marketing platformPercentage of marketers
Online ads21%
Tv ads10%

Source: Takumi

Percentage of influencers active on Instagram vs other key social channels by country


Source: Takumi

Users interacting with influencers on Instagram, vs other social channels

Influencer platformPercentage of users

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

Proportion of consumers* who think Instagram influencer marketing is most likely to lead to purchase vs other social channels

Influencer  channelAllConsumers aged 16-24
Tv ads21
Online ads812

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

Users interacting with influencers weekly on Instagram, vs other channels

Influencer channelProportion of users engaging weekly

*in the US, UK, and Germany

Source: Takumi

Average Instagram influencer engagement rate by follower count

Follower countEngagement rate

Source: HubSpot

Instagram influencer engagement rate by follower count, vs other platforms

Follower countInstagramTikTok Twitter

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Instagram influencer engagement rate by follower count, vs other platforms

Follower count InstagramYouTubeFacebook Twitter
Nano (1-10k)4.4%6.7%0.42%0.17%
Micro (10-100k)2.4%6.2%0.13%0.04%
Medium (100k-1m)1.8%5%0.03%0.02%
Mega (1m+)0.7%4%0.01%0.01%

Source: CreatorIQ via  Influencer Marketing Hub

How much do brands spend on influencer marketing?

Proportion of marketing budgetProportion of brands

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

How much do brands spend on influencer marketing?

Proportion of marketing budgetProportion of brands

Source: Mediakix

How many influencers do brands work with?

Influencers worked with over past yearProportion of brands

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Most-expensive influencers by average post cost

InfluencerAverage post cost, USD thousands
Dwayne Johnson1015
Kylie Jenner986
Cristiano Ronaldo889
Kim Kardashian858
Ariana Grande853
Selena Gomez848
Beyoncé Knowles770
Justin Bieber747
Taylor Swift722
Neymar Jr704

Source: HopperHq

Most-effective brand influencers in Q3 2020

InfluencerFollowers, thousandsInteractions, thousands
Mridul Sharma98.61247.3
Julie Ferrat165.71024
Pamela Pedroza13.5591.5
Kanaan Pitan54.7483
Lauren Kettering843.98077.8
Samira Ahmed106.2604.6

*effectiveness measures number of followers, interactions per followers, and posting activity.

Source: Socialbakers

Instagram influencer marketing: Most and least effective industries

IndustryAverage interactions vs brand post
Health Care4.2x
Sporting Goods0.4x

Source: Socialbakers

Most-affected influencer categories, first months of coronavirus pandemic

CategoryInfluencers mentioning 16 March 2020Influencers mentioning 18 May 2020% Change
Mobile phones11,07611,5734.5%
Music festivals32252443-24.3%
Performing arts17,65313,377-24.2%
Live events137,115111,187-18.9%

Source: Socialbakers

Brands most mentioned by Instagram influencers, Q3 2020

Ideal of Sweden19491301
Pretty Little Thing1018351
Question Nutrition616286
Michelob Ultra395271
L’Oréal Paris327257

Source: Socialbakers

Total US & Canada influencer spend by quarter, USD millions

Q1 2018163
Q2 2018171
Q3 2018174
Q4 2018235
Q1 2019265
Q2 2019314
Q3 2019340
Q4 2019434

Source: Instascreener via Jay Jay Ghatt

Brands with most fake follower interactions, Q3 2019

Brand Proportion of fake interactions
Baby Einstein51%
Carefree Liners51%
Wines of Sicily50%
Albion Fit48%
Ellie Activewear46%
Green Chef45%

Source: Instascreener via The Drum

Top brands by influencer marketing spend in 2019, USD thousands

Fashion Nova40072
Flat Tummy Co13586
Luc Belaire & Bumbu6766
Carolina Lemke6237
Calvin Klein5370

Source: Instascreener via Aaron McClendon

Key Instagram Revenue Statistics

Estimated Instagram net* ad revenue as a share of Facebook ad revenue

YearInstagram ad revenue, USD billionsNon-Instagram ad revenue, USD billionsTotal Facebook ad revenue,USD billions

*after traffic acquisition costs paid to partner sites, US only

Source: eMarketer

Instagram ad revenue as a share of total Facebook revenue

2019 Instagram ad revenue, USD billions2019 Facebook ad revenue, USD billionsTotal 2019 Facebook revenue, USD billions

Source: Bloomberg

Instagram funding rounds

SeriesDateAmountLed by
Seed roundOctober 2010$0.5 millionChris Sacca, Baseline, Andreessen Horowitz
Series AFebruary 2011$7 millionBenchmark
Series BApril 2012$50 millionSequoia

Source: Crunchbase

Other Key Instagram Statistics

  • Instagram MAUs estimated at 1.15 billion in October 2020 (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • 51% of the global Instagram user base are female, 49% male (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • 69% of global internet users in selected markets are Instagram users, 66% are users (GlobalWebIndex)
  • Instagram downloaded 425 million times in 2019, putting it fifth in terms of overall downloads (Sensor Tower)
  • Around 135 million Instagram downloads in Q3 2020, following on from 140 million in Q2 2020, again putting it fifth in terms of global downloads (Sensor Tower)
  • Instagram was the fourth most-downloaded app of the 2010s (App Annie)
  • 25% of US teenagers say Instagram is their favourite social media, down from 35% in 2019 after being overtaken by TikTok (Marketing Charts)
  • 84% of US teens use Instagram (Marketing Charts)
  • 41% of Instagram users don’t watch television on any sort of regular basis (Facebook)
  • Only 7 millions downloads of IGTV in the first 18 months (TechCrunch)
  • 26% of Millennial and Gen Z internet users in the US/UK use Instagram Live (GlobalWebIndex)
  • 95 million pictures posted to Instagram every day as of June 2016 (Wired)
  • Average users posts to their main feed once per day (Locowise via Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • Average Instagram post has 10.7 hashtags, though 50% of posts use fewer than six (HubSpot)
  • Most-used hashtag is #love, with over 2.1 million uses (in an analysis of 80 million posts), followed by #photography and #instagood, with a little under 1.5 million each (HubSpot)
  • Hashtag with highest average engagement is #tbt, with nearly 400 interactions, followed by #hair (just under 350), and #dance (~275) (HubSpot)
  • Median Instagram brand profile interactions per posts are 188 for carousels, ~140 for imagines, and ~95 for video (Socialbakers)
  • Rupert Grint reached 1 million followers in 4 hours 1 minute, the current record for reaching this milestone (Guinness World Records)
  • Influencer marketing industry worth $9.7 billion in 2020 (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • Most-followed demographic influencer demographic is females aged 25-34, who claim nearly 25% of Instagram influencer followers (Socialbakers)
  • Female influencers aged 18-34 claim over 50% of influencer interactions and 45% of influencer followers (Socialbakers)
  • More than 90% of influencer marketing campaigns use Instagram (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • 10.6% increase in number of influencers using of #ad hashtag between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020; 30% decline between April 2019 and April 2020; 60% increase registered between Q3 2018 and Q3 2019 (Socialbakers)
  • 33.3% influencers working with brands have fewer than 10,000 followers; these XS influencers account for 31.9% of posts using #ad (Socialbakers)
  • 93.9% of brand partnerships are with influencers with fewer than 100,000 followers; this varies between regions: from 92.3% in North America to 95.9% in Latin America (Socialbakers)
  • 15% of macro influencers (over 1 million followers) use #ad, compared to only 1.3% of micro influencers (under 10,000 followers) (Socialbakers)
  • 17% of Instagram users have clicked on a brand tagged by a brand/seller (GlobalWebIndex)
  • 14% of Instagram users have clicked on a sponsored post (GlobalWebIndex)
  • Median Instagram post engagement levels for branded posts is 1.6%, say Sprout Social (Sprout Social)
  • Trust Insights reports average engagement levels of 0.9% for branded content (Trust Insights)
  • Iconosquare give a more positive 4.7% engagement level for branded content (Iconosquare)
  • InfluencerDB pegs sponsored post engagement at 2.4% (InfluencerDB)
  • InfluencerDB finds 8.8% engagement for influencers with under 1,000, and 3.6% for those with over 1,000 (InfluencerDB)
  • Average Instagram brand campaign uses 726 influencers (InfluencerDB)
  • 78% of Millennials claim to be indifferent or averse to celebrity endorsements (eMarketer)
  • More 16-24-year-olds in the US, UK, and Germany (23%) believe Instagram is the social media channel most representative of society than any other (Takumi)
  • Fashion influencers account for 25% of sponsored posts (Socialbakers)
  • Somewhere between 80-91% of marketers believe influencer marketing is effective, depending on who you ask… ( Mediakix/Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • 72% of brand representatives believe that influencer marketing results in higher quality leads (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • 66% of brands planned to increase their influencer marketing spend in 2020 (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • 47% of influencer marketing spend goes on micro influencers, with 23% spent on celebrity influencers (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • 87% of marketers say Instagram is important to their marketing strategy (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • Marketers can make $5.20 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub)
  • 17% of marketers spend over 50% of their budget on influencer marketing (Mediakix)
  • 60% of marketers will spend over 50% of their influencer marketing budget on Instagram (Mediakix)
  • Global spend on influencer marketing is predicted to be worth somewhere between $5 billion and $10 billion by 2020 – rising as high as $15 billion by 2022 (Mediakix)
  • Daniel Wellington was the most influencer mentioned brand over 2018, with 20,000 mentions from over 7,000 influencers (using the #ad hashtag) – one post from Kylie Jenner was interacted with 4.6 million times (Socialbakers)
  • In Q3 2020, influencers posts mentioning BT were interacted with more than 175,000 times more than posts originating from the brand (Socialbakers)
  • In 2019, $255 million of total $1.4 billion influencer marketing spend on Instagram went on fake followers (Instascreener via Digiday)
  • Only 11.1% of marketers would choose Instagram as the most data secure channel (Takumi)
  • 66% of people say they use Instagram specifically to interact with brands; 53% see they would follow a brand for its content alone (Facebook)
  • Nike Football was the brand account with the most interactions over 2018, with 2 million
  • 2 million advertisers use Instagram on a monthly basis (Talkwalker via Marketing Dive)
  • Number of advertisers using Story ads at 4 million (TechCrunch)
  • 3 million of Facebook’s total advertisers use Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger Stories combined (TechCrunch)
  • Between Q1 2019 and Q3 2020, Instagram main feed ads accounted 18.7-21.2% of ad spend (Socialbakers)
  • 10.4% of Facebook ad spending went on Stories in Q3 2020, and 17.5% in main feed ads  (Socialbakers)
  • Audience size of 50 biggest brands 35% larger on Instagram than Facebook, with engagement 22x greater; despite this, only 38.1% of brands posts are made on Instagram (Socialbakers)
  • In Q3 2020 Instagram feed ad CPC fell by 20.1% year-on-year, and Stories by 15.2% (to around $0.45 and $0.38) and ; Q2 saw a 37% decline in both (Socialbakers)
  • In Q3 2020, Instagram feed ad CPM fell by 11.9%, and stories by 8.4% (to around $1.40 and $0.75); Q2 saw a 28% decline in both (Socialbakers)
  • CPC for Instagram feed ads is around $0.45, and for Stories $0.38 (Socialbakers)
  • CPM for Instagram feed ads is around $1.40, and for Stories around $0.80 (Socialbakers)
  • It is estimated that Instagram brought in $2 billion in ad revenue in Q2 2018; this was predicted to reach as much as $7 billion by Q4 2020 (Recode)
  • Instagram ad revenue as a share of Facebook ad revenue was predicted to rise from 9% in 2017 to 30% by 2020 (Recode)
  • Instagram valued at $100 billion by Bloomberg in 2018 (Bloomberg)

Instagram User Statistics

In June 2018, Instagram users hit the 1 billion mark. This would make it the third most-populous country in the world, after China (1.44 billion) and India (1.38 billion). Or to put it another way, the Instagram user base is equal to the entire population of the Americas.

We have not heard any further updates from Instagram for a little while, so we might assume that monthly Instagram user levels have stayed at around this level. Certainly, saturation may well kicked in at this stage. Hootsuite and We Are Social estimated Instagram user numbers to be at 1.16 billion as of October 2020.

If we discount messenger apps, including the multifaceted (and China-focused) WeChat, this puts Instagram behind only parent site Facebook and YouTube in terms of active users. We might note, however, that if we add TikTok and Douyin users together, the figure would be in excess of Instagram’s MAU figure.

Instagram MAUs vs other top apps, billions

Instagram MAU vs other top apps

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

In the below graphic, we can see how the user base has grown since 2013. Growth has been consistently strong though this five-and-a-half-year period. The 100 million Instagram user mark was crossed in February 2013. This had risen to 500 million by June 2016, before doubling over the next two years to reach the current 10-figure point.

The 1 billion figure remains the latest official Instagram statistics related to MAUs as December 2020.

Instagram MAUs, January 2013 – June 2018, millions

Instagram users (MAU), January 2013 - June 2018

Data source: various

Going by the 1 billion figure, Instagram has the smallest user base of four major names in the Facebook family of apps.

Instagram MAUs vs other Facebook apps, billions

Instagram MAUs vs other Facebook apps

Data source: Official stats

According to Instagram, over 500 million accounts use Stories on a daily basis. Instagram Stories was introduced in August 2016. These Instagram Stories statistics date back to Q4 2018 – so may well have fluctuated since this point.

It only took until January 2017 for Instagram Stories users to outstrip Snapchat’s entire userbase.

Instagram Stories DAUs, Aug 2016 – January 2019, millions

Instagram MAUs vs other Facebook apps

Data source: various

Instagram users by country

The largest single constituency of Instagram users in a single country can be found in the US, with 140 million users. So far, so predictable – but Instagram’s success is truly international. India (120 million Insta users), Brazil (95 million), Indonesia (78 million), and Russian (54 million) round out the top-five. Clearly the appeal of nicely filtered photos truly transcends national boundaries.

But if that makes it sound like Instagram users are concentrated across emerging app markets, its popularity in Japan (37 million), the UK (28 million), and Germany (25 million) confirms that this is not the case.

Indeed, Instagram’s universal popularity means that many of countries in the top-15 by Instagram MAUs are there by virtue of the size of their populations.

Instagram MAUs by country, top-15, millions

Instagram users by country, millions

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Focusing on internet users aged 16-64, GlobalWebIndex statistics show that the highest level of Instagram penetration can be found in Turkey, at 88%.

Elsewhere, we see particularly high levels of Instagram penetration in Latin America (84% in Brazil, 80% in Argentina, 72% in Mexico), and Southeast Asia (86% in Indonesia, 76% in Malaysia, 70% in the Philippines).

We also high penetration levels in emerging regions, such as the Middle East (76% in Saudi Arabia and 69% in the UAE) and Africa (74% in Nigeria, 69% in Kenya, 67% in South Africa). In a sign of Instagram’s wide appeal, we also see several European markets featured in the top-20,  led by Portugal on 74% and Sweden on 69%.

Top-20 countries by Instagram penetration (eligible reach), 2020, percent

Top-20 countries by Instagram penetration (eligible reach), 2020

Data source: GlobalWebIndex

Looking at some other key markets, we see varying levels of Instagram penetration. In both the US and Canada, penetration stands at 56%, while in Northeast Asia, South Koreans (59%) are keener Instagrammers than their Japanese counterparts (39%).

Russia’s figure of 61% gives us insight into Eastern Europe, while both the UK (53%) and France (50%) register relatively low figures for Western Europe.

Instagram penetration (eligible reach) in selected markets, 2020, percent

Instagram penetration (eligible reach) in selected markets, 2020

Data source: GlobalWebIndex

The Pew Research Center pegs US Instagram penetration at 37% (that is, those who ever use the app, rather than MAUs). This puts it in a comfortable third place, behind only YouTube and Facebook. It has occupied third position since 2016, after rising steadily over the years.

Interestingly, in 2019, we see a bit of a dip in penetration levels for many of the rest of the chasing pack, with the exception of LinkedIn. Clearly something about Instagram continues to be compelling to the US online audience while other apps lose their lustre.

Instagram penetration in the US has climbed steadily since the Pew Research Center began logging this metric in 2012, at which point it stood at 9%. It had reached 21% by September 2014, and 35% in January 2018.

Instagram US penetration, 2012 – 2019, percent

Instagram US penetration

Data source: Pew Research Center

Instagram download statistics

Instagram was downloaded around 425 million times globally in 2019, making it the fifth-most-downloaded app of the year.

Instagram downloads 2019 vs other top apps

most downloaded apps 2019

Sensor Tower

It maintained this rank throughout 2020, with around 135 million downloads in Q3 2020, following on from 140 million the previous quarter.

Instagram downloads Q3 2020 vs other top apps

Most-downloaded apps, Q3 2020

Sensor Tower

App Annie place Instagram fourth in its list of the most-downloaded apps of the 2010s, behind only its three Facebook stablemates. We might note that it did have several years advantage over TikTok, which managed to make it to seventh, despite having less than three years to do so.

Most downloaded apps of the 2010s

App Annie

Instagram demographics

Breaking down the global Instagram user base by age and gender, we can see that the highest proportion of users can be found in the 25-34 (33.1%), and the 18-24 (29.6%) age brackets. Between them, these two age brackets account for a touch under two-thirds of global Instagram users – though this share has fallen slightly compared to previous years.

By this estimation, globally speaking we see something close to gender parity, with 51% of the Instagram user base female, and 49.1% male. We see different trends at different age groups.

Male Instagram users outnumber female in the 18-24 bracket, while there’s effectively equality between the two in the 25-34 bracket. Every other bracket sees marginally more female than male Instagram users.

Instagram users by age and gender, October 2020, percent

Instagram users by age and gender, October 2020

Data source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

According to Takumi, 23% of 16-24-year-olds believe that Instagram is the brand most representative of society – more than any other brand. This stat, pertaining to respondents in the US, UK, and Germany, confirms how Instagram shapes and reflects the worldview of these young users.

Breaking down the Pew Research Center’s data by age, we see a simple downward trend in Instagram penetration as we climb through the age groups (Pew’s data begins in the 18-24 bracket – the minimum age to use Instagram is 13).

In the 18-24 age bracket, Instagram comes in third behind YouTube and Facebook on 75% – though it is only a single percentage point behind the latter. Penetration, however drops rather rapidly as we go through the age groups. A mere 8% of 65+ users are Instagram users – though this is more than either Twitter and (unsurprisingly) Snapchat.

Facebook, on the other hand, is used by 46% of pensioners, and YouTube by 38%. In both cases, these figures represent a significant drop from the 50-64-year-old bracket, showing both platforms retain penetration as we go up the age groups. Instagram usage, on the other hand, drops off much sooner. More 50-64-year-olds use YouTube than 25-29-year-olds use Instagram.

Not labelled on the below graphic, Instagram is used by 57% of 25-29-year olds, 47% of 30-49-year-olds, and 23% of 50-64-year-olds.

Instagram US penetration vs. other popular social media by age

Instagram US penetration vs. other popular social media by age

Source: Pew Research Center

A biannual study of US teens, asking them to elect their single favourite social media platform has found in favour of Snapchat since spring 2016. In fall 2020, 34% elected Snapchat, compared to Instagram’s 25%. Instagram has also lost ground to TikTok, which has shot up into second place, on 29%.

There is always an element of volatility with measures such as this, of course. We might note that Instagram had been steadily on the up  before TikTok came along. In 2019, it nearly caught Snap.

We might also note that Instagram was the most-used platform by US teens, as of fall 2020, with 84% penetration.

Preferred social media among US teenagers, spring 2015 – fall 2020

Teens favourite social media platforms

Source: Marketing Charts

Other demographic data pertaining to the US Instagram user base paints a familiar picture. Instagram users are more prevalent (proportionally) in higher income brackets – as we might expect from a platform often associated with conveying a glamorous lifestyle.

No doubt related to this, the more educated an American is, the more likely they are to be an Instagram user. And, of course, those living in cities are the keenest users of Instagram. This is perhaps the sharpest divide, with low-income and less-highly educated Instagram users still relatively prevalent.

As compared to the global situation outlined above, in the US, women are a good deal more likely to be Instagram users than men.

Instagram is most popular with Hispanic Americans, with 51% of this audience using the app, compared to 40% of black Americans, and 33% of white. We might speculate that this can be connected with the rural/urban split, with Hispanic and black users more likely to live in cities.

To give this some context, the 61% of the US population identifies as white, 18% as Hispanic/Latino, and 13% as black. There is no Instagram usage data for Asian Americans or any other minority racial or ethnic groupings.

Instagram US demographics

Instagram US demographics

Data source: Pew Research Center

Instagram users by follower count

Just over half (52%) of Instagram users have fewer than 1,000 followers, though a not insignificant 37% have a follower count in four figures. We might look at this another way, however – nearly half of all Instagrammers have more than 1,000 followers. This, then, is a platform where users are highly ‘connected’ –  to what extent this represents actual human connection is another matter, of course…

Around 10% of Instagrammers have between 10,000 and 500,000 followers, while 0.5% can lay claim to more than that. If we measure that against 1 billion Instagram users, that would mean that 50 million accounts are followed by over 500,000 other users.

Instagram users divided by follower count, percentage of total

Instagram users by follower count

Data source: Hubspot

Instagram Usage Statistics

Official usage stats for Instagram have been rare in recent years. It was reported that in 2016 that 95 million pictures were posted to Instagram every day. This figure is likely to have increased significantly in the intervening years.

Indeed, according to Locowise 2020 stats the average Instagram user posts once a day: giving us 1 billion posts per day.

In the US, Instagram users are frequent and regular in their usage. 63% use the app once a day or more. Only Facebook is accessed more regularly by its users. Instagram is trumped somewhat in the most-regular usage category by Snapchat, whose users are more likely to use it several times a day.

Though this perhaps reflects the more back and forth, quickfire nature of Snapchat more than anything.

Instagram usage frequency, US, 2019

Instagram usage frequency, US, 2019

Data source: Pew Research Center

A Facebook-conducted survey (perhaps unsurprisingly) found high levels across age groups. Regular Instagram usage, in this case is counted as multiple uses per day. We see the typical pattern here of declining levels of usage as we climb through the age groups.

Two-thirds of Instagrammers in the youngest bracket (18-24) use the platform multiple times per day. By the time we get to 35-44 we still very close to half of the user base (49%) logging these high levels of usage. Nearly a third of the oldest grouping (they stop at 55+) are multiple daily users.

Percentage of Instagram users using the platform multiple times per day, by age

Instagram daily users by age

Data source: Facebook

GlobalWebIndex conducted a similar survey in 2020, the results of which were not far different from those logged by Facebook.

Breaking users down by generation, it was found that two thirds of Gen Z Instagram users used the app multiple times per day. Over half of Millennial users did the same, with a stronger downward trend thereafter.

Percentage of Instagram users using the platform multiple times per day, by generation

Percentage of Instagram users using the platform multiple times per day, by generation

Data source: GlobalWebIndex

Back in August 2017, Facebook reported that Instagram users under the age of 25 spent an average of 32 minutes using the platform. This compared to 24 minutes for those aged 25 or older.

These figure are roughly analogous to external estimates. eMarketer predicted in May 2019 that the average US adult Instagram user would spend 27 minutes per day using the platform over the course of the year. This is an increase of one minute over 2018, bucking a wider trend of declining or plateauing time spent using social media platforms.

This includes Snapchat, for which eMarketer predicts average daily time spent will remain at 26 minutes until 2021. This represents a downgrade of previous forecasts that estimated time spent on Snapchat would increase to 28 minutes in 2019.

eMarketer predicts that the average daily time spent on Instagram by US users would continue to increase by one minute each year, until at least 2021. This prediction is unchanged.

Overall social media time in 2019 is estimated to come to 1 hour 14 minutes – virtually unchanged from 2018, when it dipped after several years of unbroken growth.

This chimes with findings from Facebook, published in January 2019. These found that 57% of users claimed they had increased the amount of time they used Instagram, with 44% saying they believed that their usage would increase over the course of 2019.

On the other hand, other estimates make the above seem conservative. Recode, for instance, reported in mid-2018 that US Android users were spending 53.2 minutes on the platform.

Average Instagram usage time per day, minutes

Daily time spent on Instagram

Data source: Facebook/eMarketer/Recode

The Record stats show Instagram closing in on Facebook, at 58.5 minutes, while Snapchat was slightly behind on 49.5.

Average time spent on Instagram vs. Facebook & Snapchat, July 2017 – June 2018

Average time spent on Instagram vs. Facebook & Snapchat, July 2017 - June 2018

Source: Recode

SimilarWeb stats, pulled December 2020, estimate that the average Instagram visits lasts 7 minutes 46 seconds, during which time 11.05 pages are visited.

Alexa (also December 2020) gives us daily usage of 8 minutes 48 seconds, with 9.71 pages visited.

When do people use Instagram?

According to Sport Social Instagram stats the greatest levels of Instagram engagement occur in the late morning during on Wednesday and Friday (US Central Time – the time zone used in Sport Social’s native Chicago).

Wednesday seems to be the day which sees the highest level of engagement, with usage levels still high well into the afternoon (later in the day in Europe). Interestingly, the weekends see relative low levels of engagement compared to the rest of the week. Those seeking high levels of Instagram engagement would do well to post during the working week. And during daylight hours, as it seems engagement tails off in the evening.

The data is taken from 25,000 global Sprout Social customers.

Instagram engagement by time, CST

Insta best times to post

Source: Sprout Social

Median per post engagement levels, say Sprout Social, stand at 1.6%.

Instagram interests

According to Facebook Instagram data, 91% of users say they use Instagram to follow at least one of their interests. This varies across markets – the figure is as high as 98% in India.

The top reported interests of Instagram users are travel (45%), music (44%) and food and drink (43%). Which will be clearly evident to anyone who’s spent any time at all on the platform.

Top Instagram user interests

Top Instagram user interests

Data source: Facebook

Instagram is a place where people go to look good, and to look at things that look good.

According to stats from Unmetric, of the top Instagram brands (see below for the top 20) accounts, it is top fashion brands which claim the highest average number of Instagram followers, with an average of 35.5 million. These are followed by athleisure brands, which are followed by an average of 21.8 million Instagram users, and cosmetics at 15.4 million.

Auto (15 million) and food (4.4 million) round out this list.

Most-followed topics Instagram

Most-followed topics Instagram

Source: Unmetric

Instagram content statistics

Instagram is a social network – though interestingly, it’s to brands that users chiefly turn when their looking for content relevant to their interests. Admittedly, though, there’s only 1% in it, with two thirds of users viewing content posted by other public users and communities.

Over 60% of users turn to influencers and celebrities alike, with photos just edging videos for both constituencies in terms of user preference.

Percentage of Instagram users who engage with interests through content formatsInstagram types of content viewed

Data source: Facebook

GlobalWebIndex surveyed users in May 2020 to ask in what Instagram activities they have recently engaged (in the past two months). This survey found that among these selected activities, the greatest proportion had watched a video (38%), followed by 27% who had created or viewed Instagram Stories.

While 11% of users reported using Instagram Live, this rises to 26% of Millennial/Gen Z users in the UK and US.

Interestingly, these stats show that nearly a quarter of surveyed users had used IGTV – largely considered to be a flop.

Percentage of users who have recently engaged in Instagram activities

Instagram activities

Data source: GlobalWebIndex

GlobalWebIndex stats also give us an indication of the sorts of content being shared on Instagram, also giving us a comparison with Facebook and TikTok.

The content types most commonly shared on Instagram are personal news/updates (shared by 43% of Instagram users) and funny videos (42%). This would seem to be in line with expectations. Interestingly for scholars of 2020, we might note 26% of Instagram users had shared coronavirus news on Instagram. A further 21% had shared non-coronavirus news.

These stats show that slightly more users share content on Instagram than Facebook. TikTok users seem to be the most enthusiastic content sharers – including influencer posts.

Broadly speaking, users seem to share the same sorts of content across these three platforms.

Percentage of users sharing content types on Instagram vs other platforms

Content shared on Instagram vs other plaforms

Data source: GlobalWebIndex

The average Instagram post contains 10.7 hashtags, says HubSpot, though 50% use fewer than six, suggesting some toploading of these stats.

In an analysis of 80 million posts from the same source, it was found that #love was the most frequently used, with 2.1 million uses. #photography and #instagood follow on 1.5 million each.

According to Instagram’s Year in Review 2018 blog post, the heart emoji was used in comments 14 billion times – that’s a little under twice for every human being on the planet. Hearts also featured in the most-used face filter on Instagram Stories – ‘Heart Eyes’, and the most commonly used Giphy sticker on Stories, ‘Heart Love’.

The classic smiley face, we are also told, was used most frequently in posts pertaining to Disneyland Tokyo.

The fastest growing hashtag goes to the omnipresent #fortnite. #metoo was also used 1.5 million times, making it the top advocacy hashtag of the year. According to mention, the top tags are #love, #instagood, and #fashion.

Instagram news usage

While Facebook and Twitter are more commonly associated with news usage, Instagram is also widely used to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world.

According to Facebook, 76% of users use Instagram to keep up with current events, and 37% use it to keep up with sporting events.

The GlobalWebIndex stats above show that during the coronavirus pandemic, 26% of Instagram users shared coronavirus news on the platform, while 21% shared non-coronavirus news.

Reuters stats look at the percentage of users from select markets who use Instagram as a news source, comparing it to overall usage.

We tend to see a higher level of news usage in emerging markets. For now, Turkey and Chile are the only nations in which more than half of Instagram users use the platform for news (41% news users vs 66% overall penetration in Turkey; 28% vs 55% in Chile). Turkey also logs the highest figure for overall penetration.

Brazil (30% news users, 61% overall users) is not far behind in Latin America, while Kenya also logs a high figure (26% vs 56%).

In Europe, southern European nations Italy, Spain, and Greece see around a third of overall Instagram users using the platform for news. In each of these, over 15% of respondents use Instagram as a news source.

Others, such as France, Austria, and Czechia log similar figures, albeit at lower levels of overall Instagram penetration. In the UK, only one in 10 Instagram users utilises the platform for news, while in Nordic nations the level is around one in five.

In Asia Japanese (3% vs 21% overall) and South Korean (9% vs 38%) users are a little warier. In Hong Kong (16% vs 38%) and Malaysia (20% to 47%), we see a higher level of Instagram news usage.

In the US, we see figures somewhere in the European range (8% Instagram news users, versus 30% overall usage).

Coronavirus news usage by country (vs overall usage), percentage of users

Instagram news usage by country

Data source: Reuters

These stats may certainly be viewed as cause for concern, with questionable fact-checking standards, fake news, and misleading/sensationalist headlines perennial issues (on Facebook-owned social networks in particular).

This may be even more of a concern among younger users, among whom Instagram usage is more concentrated. Reuters also looks into what proportion of young adults use Instagram as a news source in selected nations. Here, we see significantly higher usage than is logged overall.

In the UK and US, 24% and 26% of those aged 18-24 use Instagram as a news source, compared to 3% and 8% (respectively) of the overall adult population. In Germany too, we see the figure go from 6% to 38%. In Argentina nearly 50% of the 18-24-year-old population use Instagram for news.

South Korea is the only nation in which Instagram news usage is around the same level (10%) as it is in the overall population.

Proportion of 18-24 year olds using Instagram as a coronavirus news source by country

Instagram 18-24 year olds by country

Data source: Reuters

Instagram engagement

Hubspot stats show the differing levels of engagement for different Instagram post formats.

These stats, focusing on top users, show that images attract the highest levels of likes and comments, followed by videos, with carousels (Stories) logging the lowest.

The difference, while pronounced, is never more than a ratio of 2:3.

Median Instagram post engagement by content format

post engagement by format

Data source: Hubspot

IGTV statistics

IGTV – Instagram’s foray into next-gen video formats – has been deemed to be a bit of flop. The app offers long-form video content from creators. TechCrunch criticises the quality of the content, which has delivered “imported viral trash from around the web” rather than “must-see original vertical content”.

The merits of the portrait format of the videos has also been called into question. In May 2019, Instagram acknowledged this, and added support for landscape videos.

Launched in June 2018, it was estimated to have been downloaded 4.2 million times as May 2019. Not a bad stat for a small app, but this comes to less than 0.5% of Instagram’s vast user base. 18 months after launch, however, it was still languishing on 7 million downloads, with signs that its backers were losing confidence.

In February 2019 it was reported that partners created an average of five IGTV videos before abandoning the platform in favour of the well-established powerhouse that is YouTube.

Naturally, the rigours of creating long-form video content proved a turnoff for creators and brands

In classic Facebook-style, IGTV was quietly overhauled and pared down, cribbing various elements from competitors – namely the current king of next-gen video, TikTok as well as Snapchat. A few other social features have also been prototyped.

This follows the earlier development of showing IGTV previews in regular Instagram profiles. This was shown to have a huge positive effect on views, elevating them by a huge 300-1000% (though huge percentages like this are a bit of a giveaway to an initial paucity of views).

Trust Insights reports seeing a spike in median IGTV views for branded content between March and August 2019, before declining once again thereafter. Its analysts speculate that Facebook gave preference to IGTV content for a while, before folding it back into the mix. This is a tactic that Facebook has used in the past to promote specific user behaviours.

Following this short boost, views and engagement of with content fell to be lower than any other type of content. Views and engagement of influencer IGTV posts failed to rise even in the boosted period.

While Facebook can manipulate views and engagement, getting brands or influencers on board seemed to be too tall an order, with Trust Insights reporting that neither brands or investors ever invested deeply into the platforms, preferring traditional Instagram media.

In May 2020, GlobalWebIndex stats showed that 23% of Instagram users had used IGTV in the past two months.

Instagram Influencer Statistics

The most-followed account by some way is the official Instagram account, with 382 million followers at the time of writing. This serves up a mixture of inspiring individuals, quirky content, and lavish photography.

The biggest account held by an individual is that of Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, with 244 million. If GOAT status was based on Instagram followers, he would comfortably claim the title from Argentine Lionel Messi, who with 170 million followers, comes in seventh in the Instagram follower stakes. Brazilian Neymar Jr (144 million) makes up the last of the three footballers featured in the top-10, and the last entrant in the top-10.

Between the footballers, musicians are the most represented demographic, with global megastar Ariana Grande leading the way on 208 million in second place, followed by Selena Gomez (196 million), Beyoncé (157 million), and Justin Bieber (152 million).

Former WWE superstar and current Hollywood hardman, bodybuilder, and tequila salesperson Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson takes third place with 205 million.

The last two names in the list, inevitably go to a pair of names whose fame was largely built on Instagram as well their family reality show. Kylie Jenner has risen to fourth place, with 202 million followers. In the process, she overtook her sister Kim Kardashian West, who counts 192 million followers.

Further down the top-20, three more of the Kardashian/Jenner feature (Kendall Jenner, Khloé Kardashian, and Kourtney Kardashian).

Most-followed Instagram individual accounts, millions of followers, December 2020

Most followed people on Instagram

Data source: Social Blade

Sometimes, we see crossover between the worlds of Instagram royalty and real-world royalty. The UK’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Megan Markle) became the record holder for the fastest account to reach 1 million followers. Their @sussexroyal account reached seven figures in a mere 5 hours and 45 minutes after they joined in April 2019.

Six months later, however, this was broken by Jennifer Aniston (@jenniferaniston) – who reached the seven-figures mark in 5 hours and 16 minutes. Amazing what a single image of the Friends cast can do. Not as much as being the third-most-famous lead character in Harry Potter, apparently. Rupert Grint managed the feat in 4 hours 1 minute in November 2020.

Pre-Sussex Royal, the record was held by Kang Daniel, who reached 1 million followers in 11 hours and 36 minutes in early 2019. Interestingly, this account now lies dormant. Kang launched another account, as he wanted to wrest control of his feed from his agency.

Pope Francis managed the feat in 12 hours in 2016.

The world of Instagram influencers, however, is not just about this top level of mega-celebrities. Socialbakers breaks down the influencer population by follower count and region.

As we can see in this set of Instagram statistics, there is some variance in the influencer landscape to be found across regions. Latin America, for instance, sees a greater proportion of smaller influencers, with over 80% of the region’s influencers counting fewer than 10,000 followers. Northwards, on the other hand, a little over 70% of North American Instagram influencers fall into this bracket.

Interestingly, it seems as if the Asian influencer market has come to reflect the North American one more closely, after looking more like Europe in previous years. Here, we see a roughly equal proportion of influencers in the top three follower counts (50k-100k; 100k-1m; 1m+). Clearly, in these markets there is a relative inclination towards bigger name influencers.

In Europe, on the other hand, we see a higher proportion of smaller influencers, putting it somewhere in the middle.

Globally, 93.9% of brand partnerships are with influencers with fewer than 100,000 followers. This ranges from 92.3% in North America to 95.9%.

Instagram influencers by number of followers, by region, Q3 2020

instagram influencers by follower count and region

Source: Socialbakers

Focusing on Gen Z and Millennial influencers, Socialbakers finds the largest constituency of influencers is females aged 18-24, who account for 3 million influencers (Q1 2019). Female and male influencers aged 25-34 are next, at 2.2 million apiece.

It seems male influencers tend to be older as a whole, with both the 13-17 and the 18-24-year-old influencer brackets feature at least twice as many female as male influencers. It is also interesting to note the sheer volume of teenage influencers, at 1.5 million. While it may be the smallest of the age brackets represented here, this is a not insignificant army of Instagram influencers.

Instagram influencer demographics

Instagram influencer demographics

Source: Socialbakers

Socialbakers also breaks down the demographics of Instagrammers, based on the share of the total follower count (stats as of Q1 2019).

The most-followed demographic is females aged 25-34, who claim nearly 25% of the Instagram influencer follower count. They are followed by female influencers aged 18-24.

We can see that from aged 35 upwards, male influencers claim a greater share of the follower count. Despite Instagram being a platform on which women enjoy greater prominence than many other social media, some old prejudices die hard.

Influencing is clearly a young person’s game overall – the 13-17 age bracket claims a greater share of the follower count than do all influencers above the age of 45.

Instagram influencer demographics share of follower count share

Instagram influencer demographics share of follower count share

Source: Socialbakers

The same trends are evident if we divide up engagement by age and gender. The gap between 18-24 and 25-34-year-old female Instagram influencers is a bit smaller here. Between the two of them, they claim 50% of interactions.

35-44 year-old male Instagram influencers account for a slightly greater share of engagement than 18-24-year-olds.

Instagram influencer demographics share of engagement

Instagram influencer demographics share of engagement

Source: Socialbakers

Influencer earning statistics

Top Instagram influencers can make huge sums of money through the platform. At the top of the list for earnings from a single post is wrestling crossover star Dwayne Johnson. An average of $1 million will get you your dose of muscles and positivity.

He overtakes former number one Kylie Jenner, whose celebrity is inextricably tied in with Instagram, as well as the Kardashian reality show empire. Jenner earns just shy of $1 million per post.

The original mega-Kardashian, Kim, features in this list also, with earnings of $860,000 per post.

Apart from these Instagram celebs, musicians feature prominently in the list, with Ariana Grande (leading the way on $889,000) Selena Gomez, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber all featuring in the top-10.

Uncommonly, Instagram’s top-10 earners per post are mostly women (just), with footballers Cristiano Ronaldo (in third, on $889,000 per post) and Neymar Jr making up the others.

HopperHQ report the figures below are based on constructed estimates or from directly speaking to the influencer in question’s agent.

Top earning Instagram influencers, Cost per post, USD thousands

highest earning influencers

Data source: HopperHQ

Most-liked Instagram posts

As a final note in this segment of the influencer section, it would remiss not of us not to mention one final influencer – one who lays claim to by far the most-liked post on Instagram. With 55 million likes (December 2020), we give you @world_record_egg’s picture of…an egg.

This January 2019 post was created with the express purpose of earning this accolade, overtaking Kylie Jenner’s first picture of her baby daughter, which has been liked a mere 18,4 million times.

In second place is the final post made by XXXTentacion before he was fatally shot in June 2018 – a stylised portrait, with 19.5 million likes. This has also climbed past Jenner’s post, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo’s post in remembrance of Diego Maradona, which racked up nearly 20 million likes within a month.

Lionel Messi’s post doing the same also makes the top-10, with over 16 million likes, as of December 2020.  The announcement of Chadwick Boseman’s death has 19 million likes, putting it in fourth. In all, five of the top-10 most-liked Instagram posts are death related.

Most-liked Instagram posts as of December 2020, millions of likes

most-liked posts on instagram

Data source: various

Influencers using Instagram vs other platforms

A three country survey by Takumi found that Instagram was the most popular channel among influencers by some distance.

Indeed, in the three markets surveyed (UK, US, and Germany), Instagram enjoyed nearly 100% penetration among influencers.

On the other hand TikTok was only used by 14% of UK influencers and 33% of German influencers (US figures were not available).

Percentage of influencers using Instagram vs other platforms, by country 

Influencers by channel and country

Data source: Takumi

Instagram Influencer Marketing Statistics

Influencers are those who can ‘influence’ their followers to take certain actions – specifically to pay for goods or serves.

This has become a key part of the modern marketing mix.

Influencer Marketing Hub stats show that nearly half of brands had worked with more than 10 influencers in the year prior to its survey. Of these, 21% had worked with over 50 influencers. Of these, 3% had worked with over 1,000.

Despite its increasing prominence (you may note that this section is dense with influencer marketing stats in reflection of this), it is still a new discipline, however. Therefore, 51% of businesses currently work with 0-10 influencers.

How many influencers do brands work with each year

How many influencers worked with on instagram

Data source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Reportedly, the average number of influencers used in a brand campaign is 726, according to InfluencerDB Instagram statistics.

The number of influencers using the #ad hashtag – increased by 33% between February 2018 and February 2019. Growth between Q3 2018 and Q3 2019 was as high as 60%.

For obvious reasons, however, we saw a 30% decline between April 2019 and April 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Influencers using the #ad hashtag

Influencers using the #ad hashtag

Source: Socialbakers

Another stat pertaining to the #ad hashtag (Boozzle Insights, reported in Campaign Live) found that the #ad hashtag was used 1.7 million times in H1 2019, which represents a 90% increase on the equivalent period in 2018 (and close to 200% more than H1 2017).

Post count: #ad hashtag, H1 2019 vs 2018 & 2017

Post count: #ad hashtag, H1 2019 vs 2018 & 2017

Source: Bozzoole Insights via Campaign Live

In June 2019, Instagram launched a feature which would allow advertisers to turn influencer posts into paid ads, in order to help them reach a wider audience i.e. those who don’t follow or engage with the influencer in question.

Influencers can be some of the most influential actors in Instagram marketing. Some Instagram statistics, however, show that this influence may be on the wane. In Q1 2019, InfluencerDB stats show that the engagement rate for sponsored posts was 2.4% – down from 4% three years prior. The engagement rate for organic posts had somehow fallen even lower – to 1.9% from 4.5% in roughly the same period.

Trust Insights also identified a more short-term dip in engagement levels in a small sample of fashion influencers (in the context of a wider drop in engagement with branded content).

Here, we saw peak engagement of 4.3% in February 2019 drop as low as 2.4% in June 2019 – in line with figures we saw above.

Instagram engagement rates with fashion influencers, H1 2019

Instagram engagement rates with fashion influencers, H1 2019

Source: Trust Insights

It seems the tail off in engagement rates has not necessarily been a gradual process. InfluencerDB’s Instagram statistics show travel influencers – who traditionally enjoy the highest level of engagement of all categories – were down to 4.5% engagement, down from 8% in 2018.

Instagram moved in January 2019 to deny that any algorithmic changes were limiting post reach.

The huge increase in the volume of sponsored posts suggests the threat of oversaturation is a very real one. Socialbakers reports that that there’s not a great deal of difference between engagement levels for sponsored or organic posts from influencers – with 415 median interactions for posts with #ad hashtags, compared to 442 for those without.

Engagement rates tend to be higher for influencers with smaller numbers of followers. This make sense given that a small, loyal following is likely to be more deeply engaged than the vast fanbase commanded by the Instagram empires of major celebrities. Of course, the flip side is, lower percentages will be higher in absolute terms for those with 10s of 1,000s of followers or more.

Various datasets evidence this. We’ll start with 2020 Instagram stats from Hubspot.

Interestingly, these stats show that while those with 1-5k followers see engagement rates more than twice of those with 5-20k (5.6% to 2.43%), the difference thereafter is far less pronounced. Indeed, we have to get to 1 million followers before engagement drops below before 2%, and then only to 1.97%.

Average Instagram influencer engagement rate by number of followers

Instagram engagement rate by followers

Data source: HubSpot

Influencer Marketing Hub stats compare Instagram influencer engagement rates by follower count with those we see on TikTok and Twitter.

Here we see a clearer downward trend as we go up through follower counts, from 7.2% for influencers with less than 1,000 followers, down to 1.1% for those with over 100,000.

We can see here that Instagram offers considerably lower influencer engagement rates than TikTok, at all follower counts. The younger platform may currently have the advantage of lower levels of saturation and fatigue – we will see how if it manages to retain this advantage over its more long-in-the-tooth counterpart as it becomes more firmly entrenched in the marketing mix.

It remains some way ahead, however, of Twitter.

Instagram influencer engagement rates by follower count vs other platforms (Influencer Marketing Hub)

Influencer engagement rate by follower count vs other platforms

Data source: Influencer Marketing Hub

CreatorIQ gives us lower figures than the above, with 4.4% engagement for nano influencers, falling to 0.7% for mega influencers. These stats compare negatively with YouTube, particularly when we reach the mega influencer, at which we see engagement levels of 4% – not far off Instagram engagement levels for micro influencers.

Facebook and Twitter stats, on the other hand, are not in the same league as either of the other two platforms.

Instagram influencer engagement rates by follower count vs other platforms (CreatorIQ)

Influencer engagement rate by follower count vs other platforms

Data source: CreatorIQ via  Influencer Marketing Hub

InfluencerDB sets the engagement rates for Instagram influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers at 8.8%, that for those with 5,000 to 10,000 at 6.3%, while for those with over 10,000 followers, at 3.6%.

We mentioned above that influencers with fewer followers tend to have a more engaged fanbase. Successful influencer marketing can therefore about working with more small influencers rather than dedicating the entire budget on mega influencers.

Socialbakers’ influencer score measures effectiveness based on the number of followers, interactions per followers, and posting activity (in the past they’ve also used less quantitative measures such as ‘authenticity’ and ‘relevance’, but it’s unclear whether they still use these).

In Q3 2020, we saw a mix of influencers in the top-six – but what’s really interesting is the diversity of influencer size we see. They range from close to 0.84 million followers, all the way down to 13,500.

There does not seem to be a simple relationship between follower count and interactions. Indeed, Lauren Kettering, with 0.84 million followers, log around 9.6 interactions per follower – which requires her to have made over 8 million interactions in the time period analysed.

The highest level of interactions per follower, however, goes comfortably to Pamela Pedroza, whose 0.6 million interactions with her 13,500 followers gives her 44 interactions per follower.

The single most effective influencer in Q3 2020 by this estimation was Mumbai-based Mridul Sharma. She interacted 1.25 million times with her 99,000 followers.

Most effective Instagram influencers, Q3 2020

Most effective instagram influencers q3 2020

Source: Socialbakers

A study by Roth Capital Partners found that 78% of Millennials reported that they were indifferent or averse to celebrity endorsements (47% of these are in the averse category, by the way). This leaves us with 22% who say that they would make a purchase based on such an endorsement. It is unclear, however, if this includes smaller influencers. What we might take away from this is a reminder of the importance of tailoring marketing strategies to target audiences.

Another survey from Collective Bias found only 22% of US adults would buy a present from a brand they didn’t know based on an endorsement.

In terms of influencer post formats we are seeing a decline in simple images. While back in 2017 these accounted for 91% of influencer posts, this had fallen to 71% by 2019. By the latter point, videos had come to take up 10% and carousel-type posts 18% of influencer content on Instagram.

Instagram influencer post formats, Feb 2017 – Feb 2019

Instagram influencer post formats, Feb 2017 - Feb 2019

Source: Socialbakers

Instagram influencers: brands and industries

Topping the list of the interests of Instagram influencers, according to Socialbakers, is ‘hobbies & activities’ – a slightly vague category that could well include any number of things. ‘Business and industry’ is in second, followed by ‘arts & music’, which perhaps are a bit clearer.

Interestingly, this list includes such broad categories as ‘online’ and ‘social media’. From this we can infer that Instagram influencers like to use Instagram. This is perhaps not as ridiculous as it sounds – the platform is an end into itself, and not simply a conduit through which users can explore their outside interests.

The vagueness of some of these categories will certainly mean those that are a bit more focused – take ‘shopping & fashion’ – are likely to be higher impact.

Interests of Instagram influencers

Interests of Instagram influencers

Source: Socialbakers

Fashion influencers account for the greatest number of Instagram sponsored posts, at 25%. Food (12%) and beauty (7%) are also big categories, while those highly-engaged travel influencers contribute 5%.

In Socialbakers’ analysis, fashion is the industry with which most influencers work. Accordingly, the 5,329 brands here were mentioned an aggregated 1.7 million times by influencers between January 2018 and March 2019.

It is, however, beauty brands who claim the highest number of mentions by a slightly smaller demographic of influencers. Of course, the smaller number of brands means that each brand gets mentioned even more often, while the smaller number of influencers means that each one will mention brands more often – hammering the names home to their followers.

Brand industries worked with and mentioned by Instagram influencers

Brand industries worked with and mentioned by Instagram influencers

Source: Socialbakers

Socialbakers reports that, the more followers an influencer has, the more likely they are to use the #ad hashtag. This makes sense – for one thing, there are far fewer influencers in the upper echelons. And a mega celeb is certainly more likely to be asked by a brand to represent them then Joe/Jane Average.

According to these Instagram statistics, 15% of influencers with over 1 million followers have used the #ad hashtag, as well as over 10% of those with over 100,000. Only 1.3% of those with under 10,000 followers use it.

Percentage of Instagram influencers using #ad, by follower count

Percentage of Instagram influencers using #ad, by follower count

Source: Socialbakers

Around one-third of influencers working with brands have fewer than 10,000 followers. These influencers account for 31.9% of Instagram posts using #ad, according to Socialbakers.

Influencer Marketing Hub estimates that 47% of influencer marketing spend goes on micro influencers, while 23% is spent on celebrity influencers.

As we might expect, broadly speaking, the more followers an influencer has, the more brands they tend to mention on average. They are also likely to mention more different industries. Smaller influencers are more likely to be closely associated with one particular field of expertise.

Climb up and we get to bigger celebrities, who may have made their name doing one thing, but whose influence is now such that even endorsements outside of this area will be impactful.

That said, we see a slight decline at the very top in terms of the numbers of brands endorsed by Instagram influencers with over 1 million followers (around 36, compared with 40 for those with 100k-1m). We might ascribe to the desire to retain an air of exclusivity – something which endorsing too many brands will erode. We might expect endorsement at this level to come at premium price point also…

Number of brands/industries vs. influencer follower count

Number of brands/industries vs. influencer follower count

Source: Socialbakers

Marketers and Instagram Influencers

Instagram influencers are not, of course, striking out on their own. The business of influencing is something done in coordination with marketers.

Mediakix Instagram statistics find that 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective. Nearly half of this 80% believe that influencer marketing is very effective.

How effective do marketers find influencer marketing?

How effective do marketers find influencer marketing?

Source: Mediakix

Influencer Marketing Hub report an even higher figure of 91% of marketers who believe in the effectiveness of influencer marketing.

89% of respondents to the Mediakix survey say that influencer marketing ROI is equivalent or better than other marketing channels, with a touch over half believing it was better or much better – though the latter constitute a relatively small proportion of respondents.

Measuring and improving ROI was reported as the top challenge related to influencer marketing reported to Mediakix (chosen by 78% of respondents).

Influencer Marketing Hub reports that, on average, marketers stand to make $5.20 from every $1 invested in influencer marketing.

How does the ROI from influencer marketing compare to other channels?

How does the ROI from influencer marketing compare to other channels?

Source: Mediakix

The above-stated confidence in the medium is further evidenced by the just shy of two-thirds of marketers who stated that they were going to up their influencer marketing budget over the course of 2019 (a further third planned to keep spending level); 17% of marketers will be spending over 50% of their budgets on influencer marketing. Perhaps that may sound extreme, but then, Instagram is among the top channels to reach certain demographics. At the extreme end of the scale 6% will be spending 91-100%.

Planned proportion of marketing budget to be spent on influencer marketing (Mediakix)

Planned proportion of marketing budget to be spent on influencer marketing

Data source: Mediakix

More recent (2020) Influencer Marketing Hub stats looking at the same show that the greatest share of brands (39%) spent 10-20% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing, with a further 23% spending 20-30%. A relatively small proportion of marketers expect to spend more than 40% (9%).

66% of the brand representatives surveyed indicated that they would up their influencer marketing spend.

Planned proportion of marketing budget to be spent on influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub)

Planned proportion of marketing budget to be spent on influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub)

Data source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Another study by Traackr found that 57% of companies said influencer marketing accounted for less than 10% of their marketing budget. A further 29% of companies spent 10-20%, while 9% spent 30-40%.

The firms surveyed by Mediakix disclosed a wide variety of different influencer marketing budgets, as you can see below. The largest proportion (19%) stated they were going to spend $1,001-$10,000 – but nearly as many (18%) fell into the $500,000-$1 million bracket.

7% stated they were going to spend a seven-figure sum on influencer marketing.

Planned influencer marketing spend 2019

Planned influencer marketing spend 2019

Source: Mediakix

Elsewhere Mediakix predicts that global spend on Influencer marketing will be between $5 billion and $10 billion by 2020.

Global influencer marketing spend, 2015 – 2020

Global influencer marketing spend, 2015 - 2020

Source: Mediakix

Influencer Marketing Hub influencer marketing stats do not differ a great deal from this estimate, with 2019 levels pegged at $6.5 billion.

A later estimate from the same source gave us a 2020 estimate of $9.7 billion, putting it in line with the above.

Global influencer marketing spend, 2016 – 2019

influencer market value

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Business Insider Intelligence estimate that marketers will spend $15 million on influencer marketing by 2022 (their 2019 estimate is $8 billion, so this is a serious increase).

Instascreener stats for 2018 and 2019 (more recent stats are not available) show that a total of $1.35 billion was spent on influencer marketing in the US & Canada over 2019, up on $0.74 billion in 2018. Each of the quarters for which we have figures saw a marked increased on the previous. The figure registered in Q4 2019 was 2.66x greater than that registered in Q1 2018.

Instagram US & Canada influencer marketing spend, Q1 2018 – Q4 2019, USD thousands

Instagram influencer marketing spend, Q1 2018 - Q4 2019

Data source: Instascreener via Jay Jay Ghatt

Fashion Nova was the brand which made the biggest contribution to this $442 million, spending $40 million on Influencer marketing over 2019. This puts it some way ahead of second-place Flat Tummy Co and third-place Ciroc Vodka, which spent $14 million and $12 million on influencer marketing respectively.

Instascreener notes that may of these top-spending brands were independent or direct-to-consumer brands, whose marketing strategy hinges on influencer marketer.

Top brand spend influencer marketing, US & Canada, 2019, USD thousands

Top brand spend influencer marketing, US & Canada, Q3 2020

Data source: Instascreener via Aaron McClendon

Fake Instagram followers

Of the money spent on Instagram influencer marketing in the US & Canada in Q2 2019, no less than $58 million went on fake followers according to Instascreener’s detection methods. Over the course of 2019, the total came to $1.4 billion. Unsurprisingly, this is a major concern for marketers using influencer marketing.

Below, are the brands which suffered from the greatest proportion of fake follower interactions in their influencer marketing in Q3 2019. This is a mixture of small brands (Baby Einstein, Carefree Liners Wines of Sicily,) and corporate behemoths (Procter & Gamble-owned Febreze takes top spot, with none other than Disneyland coming in sixth).

In more positive news, however, Instascreener had previously reported that no brands which appeared in the Q1 2019 equivalent of this list, reappeared in Q2 2019. This shows that brands are alive to challenge posed by unscrupulous actors.

Influencer Marketing Hub found that nearly two-thirds of marketers have experienced influencer fraud.

Brands which suffered most from fake followers, US & Canada, Q3 2020, proportion of interactions with fake accounts

Brands which suffered most from fake followers, US & Canada, Q3 2020, proportion of interactions with fake accounts

Data source: Instascreener via The Drum

At the opposite end of the scale, below are the 10 brands with the highest level of authentic engagement through influencer marketing (these stats date back to Q2 2019).

Automobile brands are popular on Instagram. Here we see that in the US & Canada in Q2 2019, that Audi has got the best results from influencer marketing, with an engagement rate of 12.7%.

The presence of other luxury brands: Hugo Boss, Rosewood Hotels, and Veuve Cliquot point to the aspirational nature of Instagram influencer marketing. Beauty brands and underwear brands seem to fare well here also – draw your own conclusions from that…

Brands like Sephora and Lulus represent those with marketing strategies which heavily lean on influencer marketing.

Highest engagement rate from influencer marketing, US & Canada, Q2 2019

Highest engagement rate from influencer marketing, US & Canada, Q2 2019

Source: Instascreener

71% of marketers believe that influencer marketing is better than other forms of marketing in terms of the quality of the customers/traffic generated; 18% strongly believe this.

Marketers who believe influencer marketing generates higher-quality leads

Marketers who believe influencer marketing generates higher-quality leads

Source: Mediakix

Influencer Marketing Hub gives us the equivalent stat of 72% of brand representatives who believe influencer marketing results in higher quality leads.

Instagram vs other influencer marketing channels

The above stats pertain to influencer marketing as a whole, but 89% of marketers say that Instagram is important to their marketing strategy – in line with the budget allocation we saw above.

This is nearly twice as many who chose third-place Facebook. YouTube, chosen by 70% of marketers, is the only other channel to be elected by over 50%.

Percentage of marketers who believe Instagram is important for influencer marketing, vs other channels 

Key channels for influencer marketing (Mediakix)

Source: Mediakix

Influencer Marketing Hub stats indicate that 87% of marketers believe Instagram is important for their marketing strategy.

Accordingly, these stats found that 69% of marketers would be dedicating the greatest share of their influencer marketing budget to Instagram.

On what networks marketers do spend their influencer marketing budgets?

On what networks marketers do spend their influencer marketing budgets?

Source: Mediakix

More recent stats from Takumi (2020), focusing on the UK, US, and Germany, found that 55% of marketers planned to use Instagram over the next year. This put it second, behind YouTube.

As well as being ahead of other social media contenders such as TikTok, Instagram also ranks ahead of more traditional media, such as online ads (43%) and TV ads (29%).

Percentage of marketers planning to use Instagram vs other channels for influencer marketing

platforms used for influencer marketing

Data source: Takumi

These stats show, however, that more marketers believe that online ads using offer superior ROI to Instagram influencer marketing. The proportion who believe that Instagram offers the best ROI (18%) is equal to that who elect YouTube.

Percentage of marketers who believe Instagram offers best influencer marketing ROI vs other platforms

instagram inflencer marketing roi vs other platforms

Data source: Takumi

A similar study from Influencer Marketing Hub once again puts Instagram well out in front in terms of usage for influencer marketing (79%). No other platform gets more than 46% (Facebook). Here, YouTube scores a mere 36%.

Percentage of marketers using Instagram for influencer marketing vs other channels

Key channels for influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub)

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

In a reverse question, only 4% chose Instagram as an unimportant channel for influencer marketing. Interestingly, Snapchat tops this list (62%), followed by LinkedIn (55%).

78% say Instagram posts are an effective content format for influencer marketing, with 73% electing Instagram Stories. The next most chosen format was YouTube Videos, some way behind on 56%. And this is only 2% more than chose Instagram videos.

Engagement is at the heart of influencer marketing. Takumi stats show that 37% of consumers use Instagram to engage with influencers. This is second only to YouTube (47%), and well ahead of Pinterest (17%) or TikTok (14%).

These stats pertain to consumers in the UK, US, and Germany.

Percentage of consumers who use Instagram to interact with influencers, vs other platforms

platforms used to interact with influencers

Data source: Takumi

94% of users engage with influencers at least once a week on Instagram (we might presume this is among those who engage at all). This compares to 95% for both YouTube and Instagram.

Proportion of users who use Instagram to engage with influencers weekly, vs other platforms

Instagram weekly engagement

Data source: Takumi

Asked more directly, the greatest share of respondents aged 16-64 (25%) said that Instagram influencer marketing would be most likely to lead to a purchase, ahead of 21% for YouTube.

Looking at all age groups, however, YouTube (16%) leads Instagram (11%). TV ads featuring influencers are considered most influential (21%).

Proportion of consumers who think Instagram influencer marketing will lead to a purchase vs other channels

which platforms do consumers believe will lead to purchase based on influencer marketing

Data source: Takumi

Influencer marketing challenges

It’s not simply as easy as saying you’re pursuing influencer marketing as a strategy, however – it’s about finding the right influencers and then tracking the results.

61% of marketers say it’s a challenge to find the right influencers for campaigns (17% strongly believe this). 67% identify this as one of their top-three challenges in another questions.

71% say they simply trawl through social media to find the right influencers with whom to work (40% just use Google). 43% use an influencer platform, while 42% say they influencers come to them.

How do marketers find influencers with whom to work?

How do marketers find influencers with whom to work?

Source: Mediakix

There seems to be rich mix of reasons involved in choosing an influencer with whom to work. Notably follower count is chosen by fewer than half of the marketers surveyed here.

The most important criterion is the quality of content, with 81% of marketers choosing this option. Next is target audience – which makes sense as why work with influencers if you’re not trying to reach out to a specific audience. While follower count comes a bit lower, engagement rate is chosen by 73% of marketers.

What are the criteria for choosing influencers with whom to work?

What are the criteria for choosing influencers with whom to work?

Source: Mediakix

Influencer Marketing Hub find the most popular criterion by which influencers are chosen is engagement or clicks (43%), followed by views/reach impressions (33%), followed by content type/category.

How do marketers choose with whom to work?

How do marketers choose with whom to work?

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Influencer Marketing Hub also report that finding the right influencers is major concern – 36% of marketers report it as their biggest challenge, followed by 24% who say managing the campaign is their biggest issue.

Biggest challenges involved in managing influencer campaigns

Biggest challenges involved in managing influencer campaigns

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

The number one fear held by marketers around influencer marketing is fake followers (50%),

The danger of trading on a platform where visibility and success hinges on an algorithm based on good faith is that unscrupulous elements can game the system. Facebook has, however, taken action against those who try and manipulate the influencer marketing paradigm to their advantage. In April 2019, it was reported that it was taking legal action against three individuals and a New Zealand-based firm who profited from selling fake likes, followers and views.

They are not being unduly paranoid in this instance. Of the estimated $314 million spent in North American on Instagram influencer marketing in Q2 2019, $58 million went towards reaching fake followers, says Instascreener. See above for a selection of brands who have suffered from this recently.

Algorithm changes rendering strategies ineffective follows as the next biggest fear (49%). This can be loosely linked to fears that influencer marketing strategies focus on the short term at the expense of a longer-term strategy, and generally building up a strategy, which are also prominent on this list.

Rising influencer costs are also a concern, felt by 38% of respondents.

What are the main challenges involved in influencer marketing?

What are the main challenges involved in influencer marketing?

Source: Mediakix

 The most commonly-specified motivation to practice influencer marketing, chosen by 85% of respondents, was raising brand awareness, followed by reaching new audiences, chosen by 71%, and generating sales or conversions (64%).

What are the main goals of influencer marketing?

What are the main challenges involved in influencer marketing?

Source: Mediakix

Brands on Instagram

A multi-country Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of Facebook in November found that 66% of people said they deliberately used Instagram to interact with brands. It’s not just about shopping either – it can be about building an authentic relationship. 53% said they would follow a brand on Instagram for the content alone, if it was relevant to their interests.

According to 2020 GlobalWebIndex Instagram stats, 17% of Instagram users said they had recently clicked on a brand tagged by the brand or another seller. 14% said they had clicked a sponsored post.

Facebook Instagram statistics show the types of advertising content that users would like to see from brands. The top quality identified is to be fun or entertaining, followed closely by real or authentic and creative.

Other popular choices that didn’t quite make into the very top desired qualities for Instagram brand content include content showcasing brand personality (32%), community building content, and endorsements from celebrities (27%) and influencers (26%).

Percentage of Instagram users looking for qualities in brand content

What do users look for in brand content

Data source: Facebook

Just being on Instagram, it seems, can be a boon for brands. Facebook Instagram data showed that users perceived brands that used the platform as being popular, creative, and entertaining. In each case, over three quarters of the surveyed Instagram userbase stated they believed this.

Slightly fewer users felt brands to be relevant and committed to building community. Naturally, these Instagram statistics come from Facebook itself, in a bid to convince brands to take up with the platform.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to say that for a brand to be active on Instagram will say to users that it is engaged with its prospective customers and has some sort of personality.

As ever, with stats coming from the Facebook itself, we have to take these stats as somewhat flattering. No doubt, it wouldn’t be too difficult with a different survey sample to find distinctly less charming values ascribed to brands on Instagram.

Percentage of users who ascribe values to brands on Instagram

How brands are perceived on Instagram

Data source: Facebook

Instagram itself is the most-followed brand on Instagram by some distance, with 382 million followers.

The best of the rest is National Geographic, the visual output of which is naturally perfectly well suited to Instagram. This has earned it 147 million followers. Nike is next, on 123 million, offers up a different sort of visual image compelling to Instagram users: fashion and physiques.

Nike’s output includes imagery related to football: a popular subject on Instagram. Spain’s two biggest clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, both feature in the top-10 (separated by a mere 2 million followers in December 2020). The sporting and commercial juggernaut of the UEFA Champions League also features, on 67 million followers.

Football is not the only sport in the world, of course: the NBA just makes the top-10 here, with 53 million followers.

The rest of the top-10 is a mix: premium underwear retailer Victoria’s Secret counted 69 million followers, NASA counted 62 million, and 9Gag 55 million.

Most-followed brands on Instagram, December 2020, millions of followers

most followed brands on Instagram

Data source: Social Blade

It’s not just about follows, of course. Brand success on Instagram hinges in no small part on the influence of influencers. In this case, the most mentioned name was phone accessory brand iDeal of Sweden, mentioned 1,949 times by 1301 influencers in Q3 2020.

We see a mixture of brands here. iDeal and Question Nutrition (616 mentions from 286 influencers) are relatively small names, which we can assume focus their marketing efforts on influencers. Indeed, iDeal is an ever present in this list.

On the other hand, some of the other names here are among the world’s biggest companies: Walmart (1,068 mentions from 720 influencers) and L’Oréal Paris (327 mentions from 257 influencers) among them.

We should note that this list focuses on the #ad hashtag – any posts that do not include this hashtag for whatever reason are not included. These will be a mixture of organic influencer posts and those where influencers have not appended the appropriate hashtag.

Daniel Wellington was the brand with the most influencer mentions in 2018, with 20,000 mentions from over 7,000 influencers – including Kylie Jenner, which certainly helps. One of her posts for them  logged 4.6 million interactions.

Most-mentioned brands by Instagram influencers, Q3 2020

most mentioned influencer brands

Data source: Socialbakers

Instagram data from Talkwalkers shows that Nike and Puma were among the most-successful brands on Instagram in 2018 through their leveraging of influencer marketing. Cristiano Ronaldo and Selena Gomez respectively were identified as being particularly effective Instagram influencers for the two brands. A post mentioning Nike from Cristiano Ronaldo garnered 6.6 million interactions.

Nike Football was the account that logged the most brand interactions over the course of 2018, say Talkwalker, at 2 million. Victoria’s Secret logged 1.3 million interactions over the same period.

Two categories alone account for 45% of Instagram brand interactions: fashion (24.7%) and ecommerce (20.3%). Both are clearly ideally suited to the Instagram format.

Outside of these categories, beauty (11.1%), auto (9.4%), and retail (9.2%) account for high percentages of brand interactions. Again, we can easily see the fit with Instagram’s visual nature.

Brand engagement on Instagram, by sector, Q3 2020

Instagram brand post engagement by industry

Data source: Socialbakers

Influencer marketing is far more effective in some industries than others. Using engagement as our measure, we can see that influencer posts in health care generated 4.2 times as much engagement as a branded post. Finance and telecom are also industries where influencers generate high levels of engagement (3.9x and 3.8x respectively).

We might note that some of these are less visually compelling industries, perhaps allowing the presence of influencers to give posts a significant boost. Healthcare, we might also note, is one of the biggest categories for influencer marketing).

On the other hand, other industries see influencers having a negative impact. Brand posts in the auto, sporting goods, and airline industries generate a good deal more interaction than influencer posts. In these cases, it seems users would rather interact directly with brands.

Influencer post engagement rate vs brand posts, by industry

Most effective industries for instagram influencer marketing

Data source: Socialbakers

In Q3 2020, BT was the brand found to have got the most value from influencer marketing, as compared to in-house. These posts gained 176,174-times more interactions than anything posted by the brand itself. Influencer posts account for 6% of the brand posts.

The top six in this quarter are an interesting mix (it’s worth remembering that this was during the months of the coronavirus pandemic).  Two optical companies feature (Óticas Carol and CooperVision). The list is completed by Italian sportswear brand U-Power, Pullman Brasil (a food brand) and skincare brand Skinceuticals Canadian page.

Two Brazilian brands (Óticas Carol and Pullman) suggest that this is a market in which influencer marketing can have a real impact.

Top brands: Instagram influencer marketing effectiveness, Q3 2020

Instagram brands most effective influencer marketing

Source: Socialbakers

Being a lifestyle-orientated platform, Instagram was of course greatly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. In the first months of the pandemic (March-May 2020), the category that saw the greatest positive change in influencer mentions was…insurance, with a 14.1% boost.

This was far away the greatest boost. Other categories which saw a positive change included mobile phones (4.5%), recipes (4.5%), and in a US-election year, politics (1.5%).

You might have noticed that this top-10 includes a negative figure, suggesting that we saw a wholesale reduction in influencer activity. Engineering (-0.2%) may have seen a reduction in activity, but seems to have been one of the least affected categories.

In terms of absolute figures, the categories we see listed here are a mix of those with high levels of influencer mentions (recipes, at over 20,000 mentions, and healthcare at close to 80,000 in May) and more obscure ones (insurance at 1,800 and television at 2,700).

Most affected influencer categories during first months of coronavirus pandemic: positive change

Most affected influencer categories during first months of coronavirus pandemic: positive change

Data source: Socialbakers

If we shift our focus to negative change, we can see the figures are much bigger. Here, we see the more of the categories we would normally associated with Instagram – and get an understanding of how big a challenge the pandemic posed to those working in these categories.

Parties (-36%), sunglasses (-27%), and music festivals (-24%) were the categories which saw the biggest negative change in influencer mentions (-24%).

Again, these are a mix of big categories like parties and live events (42,000 and nearly 140,000 influencer mentions in March), and smaller ones, such as music festivals (3,200 in March – though we might expect this to pick later in the year) and seafood (1,700).

Most affected influencer categories during first months of coronavirus pandemic: negative change

Most affected influencer categories during first months of coronavirus pandemic: negative change

Data source: Socialbakers

Despite the various dips reported around lowering engagement for influencer and brand content, Socialbakers actually report that median brand post interactions stayed pretty consistent between May 2018 and May 2019. The median figure at both points hovered a little below 80.

We see a spike around December followed by a decline in January, but this is fairly standard.

Interestingly, median interactions on both Facebook and Instagram are pretty closely matched, according to these Instagram statistics – both in terms of volume and in peaks and troughs.

Engagement volume, Instagram vs. Facebook, May 2018 – May 2019

Engagement volume, Instagram vs. Facebook, May 2018 - May 2019

Source: Socialbakers

Socialbakers data published in Q3 2020 finds that brand posts remain heavily skewed towards images, which account for over two thirds of posts. There’s not a great deal between video (15.4%) and carousels (Stories) (17%).

Locowise data gives us the same order. Here, however, we see carousels claiming a greater share at the expense of images, which here claim a 59% share.

4 million advertisers reportedly use Stories.

Instagram post formats

Instagram brand content types

Data source: Socialbakers/Locowise via Hootsuite/We Are Social

Interestingly, the same Socialbakers’ Instagram dataset shows that carousels enjoy the highest median level of engagement by some way, at over 188 per post. This compares to around 140 for images and 95 for videos.

Those looking to cultivate post engagement might do well to prioritise the carousels (and, by extension, the Stories format). More resource-intensive videos, on the other hand, seem to produce slightly weaker results.

Long-term, we have seen a rise in organic interactions, with figures a year prior a good third lower.

Median Instagram organic engagement by content format – brand posts

Instagram post engagement by content type

Source: Socialbakers

Locowise stats give us an average engagement rate of 0.96 for brand posts. This increases to 1.03 for images, and 0.86 for carousels. Videos once again deliver the weakest results at an engagement rate of 0.75.

Median Instagram organic engagement rate by content format – brand posts

Brand post engagement by content format on instagram

Data source: Locowise via Hootsuite/We Are Social

The number of followers counted by a brand also has a bearing on the engagement rate of brand posts. As we might expect, brands with fewer than 10,000 followers on Instagram log the highest engagement rate (1.55). This drops to 0.99 for those with between 10,000 and 100,000, and to 0.62 for those with follower counts north of 100,000.

Instagram brand post engagement rate by follower count

brand post engagement rate by follower count on instagram

Data source: Locowise via Hootsuite/We Are Social

We  can’t take for granted that marketing on Instagram will continually deliver stronger results. Trust Insights found that Instagram engagement with branded content took a dive in May and June 2019. According to this study of 1.4 million Instagram posts posted by 3,600 brands over the first half of 2019, average post engagement fell to 0.9%. This represents a serious decline (18%) from January’s 1.1%. The serious decline in engagement with brand posts began in May according to Trust Insight’s Instagram statistics. Indeed, we even saw a spike in April which saw average engagement levels increase to 1.54%.

Average branded content Instagram post engagement, H1 2019

Instagram Average branded content Instagram post engagement, H1 2019rates with fashion influencers, H1 2019

Source: Trust Insights

Once again, it’s worth noting that Instagram deny any deliberate limiting of post reach to small proportion of followers.

According to Iconosquare, average brand engagement levels on Instagram come in at a more postive 4.7%, with average reach rate standing at 34.37%. Most brands post 0.72 media per day. These stats vary according to industry. Pubic figures (taken as a type of brand) see engagement of 5.77%, while media brands are on 5.55%. The lowest engagement is seen in shopping & retail (29.54%) and food & beverage (4.13%).

Travel posts see the best post reach rate of the selected industries, at 39.94%, followed by media brands at 37.47%. The worst is seen in shopping & retail (29.54%) and consumer brands (32%).

Ads posted in the Instagram feed saw a click through rate of 0.33 in Q3 2020 according to Socialbakers data, unchanged from the figures logged in Q2 2020 (albeit well up on Q2 2019’s 0.25).

Ads placed in Instagram Stories log a CTR of 0.24 in Q3 2020, up on Q3 2020’s 0.23, and Q2 2019’s 0.2.

These compare relatively poorly to Facebook ads, which can command CTRs of around 1.8% for ads placed in users’ Facebook feeds, 0.9% for instream videos, and 0.7% for video feeds.

Instagram CTR by ad placement, Q3 2020 vs Q3 2019Instagram ad CTR

Data source: Socialbakers

Shifting the focus to CPC and CPM, we can see that the picture is a bit more complicated. Ads placed in both in the Instagram feed and in Instagram Stories see a higher CPC level than anything posted on Facebook – at around $0.45 and $0.38 respectively. Both, however, declined year-on-year between 2019 and 2020 (20.1% and 15.2% respectively). If we go back to Q2, the year-on-year decline was 37% for both.

CPC for ads placed on Facebook, however, are south of $0.10 for video and feed ads. Instream videos, however, are approaching $0.30, and also saw an increase between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020.

In terms of CPM, however, Instagram is competitive compared to Facebook, with feed ads coming in cheaper than their Facebook equivalent and Stories CPM lower than anything aside from Facebook video feeds. Instagram feed ad CPM saw a 11.9% year-on-year decline to $1.40, and Stories by 8.4% to $0.80.

Both had also seen a large year-on-year decline in Q2: 28% apiece.

Instagram CPC and CPM vs. Facebook

Instagram cpm and cpc

Source: Socialbakers

While elsewhere we’ve looked at how Instagram ad spend is increasing as a share of total Facebook relative ad spend, the bigger platform still seems to be where advertisers are directing their money for the time being. Nearly 60% of Facebook ad spend goes to Facebook feed ads.

On the other hand, with 17.5% of ad spend going on Instagram feed ads, and 10.4% on Instagram Stories, advertisers are directing a healthy proportion of budget towards Instagram. Conversely, Facebook video ads account for a relatively insignificant proportion of spend.

Proportion of ad spend going on Instagram/Facebook, Q3 2020

Instagram and Facebook ad spend

Source: Socialbakers

Between Jan 2019 and September 2020, 18.7-20.2% of ad spend went on Instagram feed ads, according to further Socialbakers’ data.

Proportion of  ad spend going on Instagram feed ads, vs Facebook feed ads, Jan 2019 – September 2020

Instagram proportion of ad spend on feed ads

Source: Socialbakers

Instagram is a channel through which advertisers can reach an audience that cannot be reached through traditional channels. 41% of Instagram users reported that they don’t watch television on a regular basis. 64% say they are happy to see brands that advertise on television communicate with them through Instagram – though only 16% say they’d like to see the same sort of ads that the brands use on television.

According to Facebook Instagram statistics, the largest percentage of users are looking for ads from these brands that last no longer than 15 seconds, with around a third more interested in 15-30 second ads.

In terms of content, users are looking for ads that are relevant and suitable for the platform as a whole – or specifically for Stories.

Instagrammer ad preferences: TV advertisers

Instagrammer ad preferences: TV advertisers

Source: Facebook

Perhaps part of the reason that these users have turned to the likes of Instagram in place of traditional media is the interactivity afforded by the platform – as we mentioned above, 66% of Instagram users use the platform to interact with brands.

A Facebook study published in March 2018 found that 50% of brands using Instagram created at least one story per month. The same survey found that over a third of Instagram daily active users became more interested in a product after seeing it on Instagram stories.

Socialbakers reports that usage of Stories by brands increased by 21% over between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019.

Brand content on Stories performed better if it they were relevant to users, shorter (and with branding occurring earlier on), fast-paced, featured a product, and were mobile optimised.

Shopping on Instagram

Engaging with the Instagram can be an inviting prospect for brands looking to reach an affluent and image-conscious demographic. And the Instagram audience is ready to act – 54% of respondents to the same survey said they bought something after seeing it on Instagram. 87% said they took some kind of action after seeing product details on Instagram.

The most commonly taken action was to search for more information, elected by 79% of survey respondents. Two thirds of users, on the other hand, took the more direct path of visiting the brand’s app or website – at which point things are very much in the brand’s hands. 37% also said that they visited a retail store.

Perhaps the most alluring of these Instagram stats to brand will be the 46% of users who report making a purchase online or in-store.

Percentage of Instagram users taking actions after seeing product details

action taken after seeing a product on Instagram

Data source: Facebook

In March 2019, it was revealed that Instagram was testing a new ‘checkout’ feature. That is a clickable icon that will allow users to directly purchase items in Instagram posts without leaving the site. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s not dissimilar to functionality offered by Pinterest.

Brands involved at the beta testing stage included Adidas, Dior, and Zara. An agreement has been struck with PayPal, allowing users to make purchases through the payments platform. eCommerce platform BigCommerce was also on board, facilitating Instagram transactions for businesses.

The feature was more widely rolled out in August 2020.

As well as making the order on Instagram, users can track the order (receiving notification within the app), and make returns or cancel purchases.

This builds on a previous feature, introduced in September 2018 which allowed brands to add stickers to Instagram Stories that would let users shop products featured in posts (much like Stories as a whole, Snapchat did it first…). This in itself built up on product tags that brands can add to organic posts, rolled out to number of North American and European markets in March 2018.

An Explore shopping channel was also announced in September 2018. This is customised based on users’ specified interests, serving up brands in which might appeal to them.

Instagram reported that over 90 million Instagram accounts clicked a post to reveal product tags every month, as of September 2018. In March 2018, Instagram reported that 200 million accounts visited one or more business profile every day.

Deutsche Bank predicts that Instagram checkout could be worth as much as $10 billion to Instagram. It cautions, however, that brands will be frustrated by the ‘walled garden’ of user data. This pertains to the limited access to user data given by Facebook to advertisers.

It has also been posited that Instagram shopping could be an important source of revenue for Facebook, as concerns around user privacy lead it away from its current targeted advertising model.

@shop was introduced in May 2019. This is an official Instagram account which showcases brands popular on Instagram. Posts, of course, are all shoppable.

Facebook Business stats published in February 2019 show that high percentages of users will use Instagram as part of the shopping process. 83% will use it to generally discover new products, 81% to research products or services, while 80% will use it to decide whether to buy a product or service.

Percentage of users using Instagram at different stages of product discovery

Instagram product discovery cycle

Data source: Facebook

Narrowing the focus to brand content specifically, the figures are bit lower. 42% said it helps to discover products, 44% to find out new information about a product or service, and 41% say brand content help them research the product or service.

Sprout Social stats looking at peak times for Instagram engagement (see above for overall engagement) also break down post engagement by different sector. As with overall engagement, we can see the peak times for engagement with posts pertaining to consumer goods occurs during the week.

Wednesday and Friday once again are the days which see the highest concentration of engagement. The peak for consumer goods seems to occur around between late morning to the afternoon (though remember this is CST – it is later in New York, and later still in Europe).

Late evenings and weekends are little quieter – as is the case for overall engagement.

Instagram engagement by time, consumer goods, CST

Peak Instagram engagement overall, consumer goods

Source: Sprout Social

It seems that techies, on the other hand, are engaged a little earlier in the day. Here the highest peak of engagement comes between 6-7 and 9-10 on Wednesday. Friday, once again, is the only day which shows similar levels of engagement to the midweek peak.

The pattern for tech Instagram engagement however does differ from that of overall engagement a little, in that the engagement levels we see on Saturday do not seem much lower than many weekdays.

Instagram engagement by time, consumer goods, CST

Instagram engagement by time, consumer goods

Source: Sprout Social

Instagram Revenue Statistics

Instagram was monetised as an advertising platform in 2013.

The platform was bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. This makes it harder to accurately gauge Instagram’s precise revenue statistics, so we have to rely on estimates.

We do know that Facebook brought in $21.5 billion in revenue in Q3 2020.

Facebook revenue follows a pattern of rising throughout the year, before dropping back in Q1. Facebook revenue in Q3 2020 represents the highest figure recorded at the time of writing

Facebook quarterly revenue since Instagram purchase to Q3 2020, USD millions

Facebook quarterly revenue

Data source: Facebook

$21.2 billion of Facebook Q3 2020 revenue came from ads (98.6%). We know mobile revenue accounted for 94% of Facebook ad revenue back in Q2 2019.

We might note that Facebook ad revenue was over 21 times higher in Q3 2020 than Q2 2012, the quarter in which the Instagram purchase took place. It also more than doubled between Q3 2017 and Q3 2020.

Facebook quarterly ad revenue since Instagram purchase to Q3 2020, USD millions

Facebook ad revenue by quarter

Data source: Facebook

Facebook annual revenue came to $71 billion in 2019, up on $56 billion in 2018.

Facebook annual revenue since Instagram purchase to Q3 2019, USD millions

Facebook annual revenue

Data source: Facebook

Of the $71 billion Facebook revenue for 2019, $70 billion came from ads (98.6%). This was up on $55 million generated in 2018.

Facebook annual ad revenue since Instagram purchase to Q3 2019, USD millions

Facebook annual ad revenue

Data source: Facebook

While Facebook revenue continues to grow solidly, net revenue is a slightly more complex, due to external factors. Nevertheless, Facebook still generated $7.8 billion in Q3 2020 – a record at that point. Naturally, Q1 and Q2 2020 had been a bit more challenging, coming in at levels similar to those seen in 2018.

Lower figures were logged in H1 2019, with $5 billion put against an FTC fine for violating data privacy laws.

Facebook has been profitable since Q4 2012 – the second full quarter after making the Instagram purchase.

Facebook quarterly net revenue since Instagram purchase to Q3 2019, USD millions

Facebook net revenue by quarter

Data source: Facebook

That $5 billion meant that Facebook annual net revenue came to $18.5 in 2019 – a little down on the $22.1 billion logged in 2018.

Facebook annual net revenue since Instagram purchase to Q3 2019, USD millions

Faebook annual net revenueData source: Facebook

The US & Canada account for nearly 50% of worldwide Facebook advertising revenue, as we might expect. In Q3 2020, the precise figure was just shy of $10 billion. Europe contributed around half this ($5 billion).

As we see with many other organisations, Asian Facebook ad revenue is growing (slightly) faster than European, coming to $4 billion in Q3 2020. This represents a doubling since Q1 2018.

The rest of the world (MENA and Latin America) contributed $2 billion Facebook ad revenue in Q3 2020.

Facebook quarterly ad revenue by region since Instagram purchase to Q3 2019, USD millions

Facebook ad revenue by revenue

Data source: Facebook

There is a huge disparity in Facebook ARPU between regions. In Q3 2020, each user in the US & Canada was worth $39.63, or $39.04 if we just look at ads.

This is over three times that of a European user, at $12.41 ($12.28 for ads alone). This, in turn, is over three times that of an Asia-Pacific user, each of whom are worth $3.67 ($3.64 for ads) to Facebook. ARPU for the rest of the world comes to $2.22 ($2.20).

Worldwide Facebook ARPU comes to $7.89, $7.80 if we only consider ads.

These figures have risen considerably over the past few years, with the global peak figure of $8.52/$8.38 recorded in a pandemic free Q4 2019 over twice the $4.23/$4.14 recorded in Q1 2017

Facebook ad/overall ARPU by region, Q1 2017 – Q3 2020, USD

Facebook ad/overall ARPU by region, Q1 2017 - Q3 2020

Data source: Facebook

Instagram ad revenue statistics

As of September 2017, official stats showed 2 million advertisers used Instagram on a monthly basis. This represented a doubling of the 1 million Instagram monthly advertisers reported in March 2017.

In recent years, Facebook has issued warnings that growth in ad revenue would slow for the main business. When this occurs, pundits predict that Instagram will step into the breach and drive further ad revenue growth.

eMarketer predicted in 2019 that Instagram US net ad revenue (that is after any traffic acquisition costs were paid to partner sites) would reach $9 billion by the end of that year, against a total of $28.5 billion. This would climb to $12.3 against $33.7 in 2020, and then to $15.7 from $39.4 billion in 2021.

This would fulfil the expectation that Instagram’s share of Facebook ad revenue would increase.

Estimated Instagram US net ad revenue as a share of Facebook ad revenue, USD billions

Estimated Instagram US net ad revenue as a share of Facebook ad revenue, USD billions

Data source: eMarketer

At the end of 2019, an anonymous Facebook insider told Bloomberg that global Instagram ad revenue came to $20 billion out of the total $70 billion Facebook ad revenue.

Instagram ad revenue as a share of total Facebook revenue

Instagram ad revenue as a share of total Facebook revenue

Data source: Bloomberg

KeyBanc Capital Markets estimated that Instagram was generating $2 billion in Q2 2018. At this point, it was predicted by an analyst working for the firm that by Q4 2020,  we’d be seeing $7 billion in Instagram ad revenue per quarter, with a further $16 billion of Facebook ad revenue. The total figure of $23 billion does not look to be too far off the mark.

Instagram revenue was pegged to rise steadily through this period, as opposed to Facebook’s three quarters up, one quarter down pattern.

The predicted Instagram ad revenue figure stood at $0.7 billion in Q1 2017, while other Facebook ad revenue was a little over $7 billion at this point.

Estimated Instagram ad revenue vs. other Facebook ad revenue, Q1 2017 – Q4 2020

Estimated Instagram ad revenue vs. other Facebook ad revenue, Q1 2017 - Q4 2020

Source: Recode

The above Instagram ad revenue statistics were built around a prediction that Instagram ad revenue was set to account for a greater and greater share of Facebook ad revenue. At the beginning of the period in question, it stood at 9%, by the end of 2020, we’re looking at 30%.

This is even more pronounced if we narrow the focus to new ad business, which increases in this estimation from 18% of total Facebook ad revenue, to 68% by the close of 2020. Here, it is estimated that rapid growth across 2018 would be tempered by a little bit of slowdown in Q3 2019.

Instagram ad revenue will bounce back after this point, though growth as a proportion of Facebook ad revenue will be more steady after this point.

Estimated Instagram ad revenue share of Facebook total/new ad revenue

Estimated Instagram ad revenue share of Facebook total/new ad revenue

Source: Recode

Instagram valuation

Bloomberg estimated Instagram’s value to be no less than $100 billion in mid-2018. $100 billion is a figure that invites GDP comparisons, and who are we to resist: this would put Instagram somewhere in between Slovakia and Ecuador – just about in the global top third.

In 2014, Citigroup had valued Instagram at $35 billion.

Facebook’s market cap stood at $760 billion in January 2021, with Facebook stock priced at $268.43 a share. This is well up on the $376 billion reported in January 2019, after a difficult patch. 2020, by all accounts, seemed to treat Facebook quite well.

The January figure is down on the record set in August 2020, at $303.91 per share, giving Facebook a market cap of $837 billion.


Facebook market cap

Facebook market cap

Source: Macrotrends

Instagram funding rounds

Instagram went through relatively few funding rounds before being bought by Facebook, the biggest and last being $50 million Series B funding from Sequoia Capital in April 2012.

Final thoughts

It seems so simple: an app which allows you to share pictures, with a little helping hand from filters to make them look just right.

Who could’ve known that the format would take hold so decisively, becoming a central part of our modern online lives? That it could be a platform which would give us a new genus of celebrity? That it could become one of the most influential marketing platforms in the world, creating a whole new subset of the industry? That it would be embraced by US presidents and UK royals? And that it would – for certain demographics – supplant Facebook as the key social network?

Well, Facebook knew, and in typical Facebook fashion dealt with the threat by buying up then two-year old platform. More than dealing with the threat, however, that $1 billion purchase in 2012 looks like one of the savviest pieces of business of the modern age.

Together, Instagram and Facebook have come to dominate a healthy (we might say unhealthy…) proportion of the digital landscape. The former has clearly taken its place as a tactical division of Facebook’s gargantuan advertising business – reaching out to demographics which Facebook’s other business areas cannot reach.

A new paradigm and lexicon of marketing has arisen around influencers – not to mention a host of companies focused on this often hard to usefully measure discipline.

Then there is the dark side of ‘influencers’ – the unrealistic aspirations created by the (sometimes only seemingly) glamorous lifestyles and gym-toned bodies of influencers. This has been linked to a rise of mental health issues in young people. And that’s not mention the rampant commercialism of what many view as a platform on which they might interact with their friends. A move to hide likes on Instagram posts may well be read as a positive move, though naturally we might ask why no one thought of this before?

There are also overarching concerns around privacy and fake news on Facebook. Facebook has made some positive noises at the very least around the former. Features which prioritise communications with close friends on Instagram are an indication of this. In October 2019, Instagram introduced Threads by Instagram, a standalone app which puts a focus on communicating with users’ close circles of friends.

While we associate fake news more with Facebook, Instagram has been identified as a potential platform through which disinformation can be spread. A tool has been added to the platform, though with fake news might be flagged. It would be not be totally unfair, however, for users to be sceptical, given Facebook’s poor track record on these issues…

On Wall Street, perhaps there is less reason to be sceptical. Facebook’s fortunes have been wobbly in the past few years. Consequently, Instagram is – by all accounts – set to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in years to come. It’s worth reiterating that as a platform, it almost seems tailormade for advertising to young people. And the young people of today are set to be the affluent of the future. This is something like futureproofing Facebook’s ad platform.

When we look back, the contemporary (and perhaps the future) marketing and advertising industry, Instagram will serve a metonymy of the current paradigm. Whether we look back at this problematic or not is another question – it remains to be seen if Facebook can get its house in order in years to come. Instagram will be central to this.

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