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Instagram catching social media giants with 40 per cent adoption rate among top brands

About 40 per cent of the world's top brands are hoping that a picture is worth more than a thousand words – or perhaps a thousand customers, instead.

According to a study by Simply Measured, photo-sharing service Instagram is earning its social network stripes, carrying a 40 per cent early adoption rate by global companies, trailing behind Facebook (which now owns Instagram), Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Considering the company's relative youth and its mobile-only network, Simply Measured called Instagram's adoption rate "very impressive."

Facebook's 98 per cent rate and Twitter's 94 per cent rank far surpass the rest of the networks, but both have earned their adoption over time. Instagram is expected to reach 100 million users by early fall, a benchmark that Facebook took four years to hit, Simply Measured said.

Based on active Interbrand 100 companies, the study revealed that Instagram's growing audience includes 96 per cent engagement by the top 10 brands.

"The fact that this many top brands are already engaging customers successfully shows how social savvy top brands are becoming," Simply Measured said, "but also speaks to the relevance of Instagram as a network and a market, and how far behind late arrivals will find themselves."

Companies like MTV, Starbucks, Burberry, Nike, Audi, and Tiffany & Co. have earned more than 100,000 followers (up to 813,000 for MTV), and garnered up to 6,399 likes (for Nike).

It is unclear whether brands find added consumer value in dropping the "lo-fi" or "x-pro II" filter – the top two favorites – onto a product photo, or just want to nestle themselves among customers by joining the Instagram craze.

Simply Measured touted Audi as a prime example. The company averages 1,423 'likes' and 34 comments per photo, which, when paired with a high frequency of posts, adds up quickly.

"This success could be more about what the folks at Audi aren't doing, rather than what they are," Simply Measured said.

Instead of using Instagram to push promotions, announce deals, or drive the audience toward sale pages, the automotive manufacturer simply shares images, all hand-picked and well-edited to show off products in their most glamorous states.

While plenty of brands have yet to jump on the Instagram bandwagon, Simply Measured forecasted a rise in use, as it becomes harder for companies to ignore the pull of the photo service.