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According to recent stats (2019), Instagram is the 5th most populated social network in the world.

1 billion monthly active users (MAU) on Instagram

This puts the visual platform far ahead of social network giants such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and right behind the Chinese competitor – WeChat.

instagram engagement report social network users

Social Networks Monthly Active Users — Source: Statista

And if we trust the data, Instagram’s growth is not about to slow down anytime soon. Their speed of MAU increases much faster than any other network out there.

A quick look at the quarterly evolution of the MAU of Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and Facebook is telling:

Instagram engagement report social network comparison

While Facebook and Linkedin saw a slow (but steady) growth and Twitter began losing users – Instagram is multiplying its MAU every two years. If we do the math, we can expect the network to reach 1.5B MAU by the end of 2019.

And as we’re always keeping our pulse on social media here at Mention, of course we want to know where Instagram is headed.

So, doing what we do best – we collected a lot of data about Instagram and build a report.

What the Instagram Engagement 2019 Report is about

It all started a year ago (2018), when we decided to investigate to better understand how active users behave on the platform. This included:

  • What do they do on Instagram?
  • What do they share?
  • What do they like?
  • What type of content works best?
  • What are the best ways to share?
  • And much more.

Some results were expected. Others, like the use of hashtags and tagging users – were quite surprising.

Instagram engagement may the golden KPI for many marketers, but it’s no easy thing to measure. As the platform evolves quickly, it’s hard to keep up with what works and what doesn’t.

So, we analyzed a lot Instagram posts and co-produced a report with our friends at Hubspot to share the results with you.

Bus is 48+ million posts really enough for us to base our insights on? According to Mention’s data scientist, Thomas Legrand:

“You could say that 48+ million isn’t much compared to the 95 million documents uploaded everyday on the platform. But just as you don’t need to A/B test all users of a website to identify relevant optimization processes, we didn’t need to monitor billions of Instagram posts to obtain mathematically significant data to identify trends that apply to all users.” Yep, definitely a scientist.

Instagram Engagement Report 2019

One interesting discovery from last year’s report is echoed this year: to generate good engagement on Instagram, you need to be highly focused and relevant.

What else did we find out? Let’s dive in.

1. Video reigns supreme

We have been preaching this for quite some time now: video is the most effective form of content, especially on Instagram. This is yet again confirmed by our analysis.

Our study reveals that video content is the best way to generate engagement  as we saw:

  • Video posts generated an average of 150 comments.
  • Image posts generated an average of 65 comments.
  • Carousel posts generates an average of 80 comments.

instagram engagement report posts average comments

Before you start questioning the data, keep in mind that this is an average. It takes into account of the thousands and millions of comments generated by Instagram’s most influential users.

For the majority of users, the reality is a bit less exciting.

A median analysis reveals that 50% of users receive less than 4 comments per video post. But with all things considered, this is still a high engagement rate.

What does it mean for businesses?

We can’t promise that each video you post on Instagram will generate millions of interactions.

But we can tell you that they are a key driver to generate higher engagement on the platform ( twice as much compared to image and carousel posts).

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Do you notice anything on the following gif?

instagram engagement report social backmarket

That’s right, the video generated much more engagement than the images and carousels. Thousands of views and 41 comments when most posts without a video generate less than 5 comments.

Here’s another example with a much bigger audience. Ubisoft’s.

1500+ comments on the video, while other posts received 100 to 200 comments.

“Remember this is a trend, not a rule or an exact science. The quality of the content and the timing are key. In fact, if you go on Ubisoft’s Instagram page, you’ll probably find videos with much lower engagement rates and images with thousands of comments.”

-Joel Gaudeul CMO, at Mention.

It’s not an exact science. The math simply tells us that video performs better—on average—than other types of content on Instagram when it comes to generating engagement.

The bottom line is: give it a try and invest some time and money in creating qualitative videos for Instagram .

2. The most used hashtags look familiar

Last year, our Instagram analysis revealed that the most used #hashtags in 2017 were the following: #love, #instagood, #fashion, #photooftheday, and #style.

This year, we see almost the same ones with: #love, #fashion, #Instagood, #repost and #photooftheday (#style comes in 6th).

instagram engagement report most used hashtags

Some things just never change.

What does it mean for businesses?

This tells us that a large part of Instagram users share ‘feel-good’ and positive content.

So if you want your Instagram content to resonate with your audience, tug on the heartstrings! Take them places, make them laugh, make them cry with touching stories…

Long story short, show them a good time.

Now, it’s also good to keep in mind that these hashtags are also very generic. They cover so much that they don’t really mean anything.

Here is an example to illustrate what I mean.

instagram engagement report hashtags terrible example

Who in their right mind will just look for “#sunglasses” or “#brands”? I mean, I did look for #brands, but that was just so that I could find a terrible example of something you should not do.

At the end of the day, generic hashtags won’t generate the most engagement. According to our analysis, the ones that do are much more specific and event-based.

3. The most engaging hashtags in 2018

The main focus this year on Instagram? The Football World Cup 2018 in Russia, space-related adventures (something tells me that SpaceX is no stranger to this), and the master of memes – 9gag.

Here are your 2018 most engaging hashtags:

  • #9gag
  • #WorldCup
  • #Space
  • #Football
  • #Science

instagram engagement report most engaging hashtags

What does it mean for businesses?

One word: Newsjack.

Stay on top of trends and monitor your what your industry is saying about trending topics. If you’re able to add yourself to the conversation, do it! But only when it’s relevant for your brand and your audience.

Here are three examples from Logitech, jumping successfully on trends and events that are not directly related to them.

A World Cup related newsjack.

A National Dog Day newsjack

And a Fourth of July newsjack.

Sure, these are not their best performing posts, but it’s a great way to reach out to new audiences (and it’s pretty fun to do).

More ≠ Better

As mentioned earlier, all signs seem to indicate that Instagrammers seek relevancy. This means that bombarding them with a ton of generic hashtags will not work.

4. Don’t go on a tagging spree

This is among the most interesting learnings of our analysis.

When you tag someone on Instagram (or on any other social media platform for that matter), they receive an instant notification, increasing —in theory—your chances of them getting involved with your content.

But that’s only theory.

In reality, the more users you tag, the less engagement you generate.

instagram engagement report median likes users tagged

What does it mean for businesses?

Keeping in mind that this insight takes influential users’ behavior into account – this doesn’t mean you should stop tagging other users.

It does mean that you should only tag users when it’s relevant to your audience and valuable to the person being tagged.

When Katy Perry, Neymar or Selena Gomez post something on Instagram, they rarely tag anyone nor utilize other hashtags but their own branded ones. Yet, they still generate millions on interaction.

Here’s a recent—and hilarious—post from Katy Perry to illustrate this.

Now, I’m sorry to say, but you’re not Katy Perry. And chances are that you’ll never be as popular.

Instagram engagement report social network sad

So as we mentioned,  do tag users – but do so strategically.

Here are a couple of successful examples:

UberEats tags @Restaurants

The MET Museum tags @artists and @professionals

National Geographic tags @Photographers

If the accounts you tag interact back, you’ll get a chance to attract new audiences. And also, crediting people you work with is always a nice thing to do.

5. Less hashtags = more engagement

To #hashtag or not to hashtag? That is the question.

Our analysis indicates that the more hashtags Instagram users display in their posts, the less engagement they manage to generate.

instagram engagement report hashtags engagement

What does it mean for businesses?

Hashtags are not as essential as you think anymore.

While they still provide context for your post and give your business more visibility when you create branded hashtags – focus on delivering quality, relevant and consistent content instead.

An example of brand’s social media communication I love is Oatly’s. They almost never use hashtags to promote their Instagram posts. The bond they created with their audience and the quality of their content is what generates engagement.

instagram engagement report social oatly

We think that the “hashtag relevance” shift is due to the addition of various factors:

  1. Celebrities don’t use hashtags and tagging the same way we mortals do.
  2. While hashtags contribute to give visibility to your posts, quality is what triggers engagement, not the number of hashtags you use. Besides, we know that the more engagement a post generates, the more likely it is to be picked up by Instagram’s algorithm.
  3. Unless there’s a specific event happening, Instagrammers use their timeline more than the search to consume content on the platform. This means that brands with engaging communities don’t need to promote their posts using a ton of different hashtags.
  4. Low-quality, promotional posts that include 10+ hashtags affect the overall result our the analysis.

Case in point:

Would you interact with this post? I know I wouldn’t. There’s no story, just a bunch of hard-to-read hashtags. In fact, it’s so terrible that only bots seem to be interacting with it.

6. Instagram is no longer just for fashion and lifestyle brands

It is true that 98% of fashions brands use Instagram to promote their products and communicate with their audience. But – in 2019 – Instagram is not just for them anymore, at least not according to the statistics the platform shared recently.

  • 71% of businesses are active on Instagram (Instagram)
  • 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business on Instagram (Instagram)

Last tip?

Our analysis revealed that the best time to post to generate engagement, regardless of your market and geolocation, is between 9 am and 11 am (PST).

If you wonder what time this is in your time zone, check out this link (WorldTimeBuddy).

Focus on quality and consistency

To reiterate, if you use Instagram on a regular basis to promote your business: 1. make sure you stay focused on what matters to you, 2. take the time to create meaningful quality content that resonates with your audience. And 3., never publish something you would not engage with yourself.

And if you don’t use Instagram to promote your business yet, what the heck are you waiting for?

What are your thoughts about these insights? Does it make sense to you? Feel free to leave comments below!

If you want to read the full report, download it here.

Instagram Engagement Report 2019

Clément is Content Marketer for Mention. He creates content to help brands manage their online reputation strategy. If not behind a screen, you can find him reading books in Parisian cafés or exploring the city with his dog.

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