What began as a simple photo-sharing app among friends has grown into a global community of consumers and brands. Companies now strive for different and new Instagram stats to understand how they engage and communicate with customers.

With more than 500 million active users, Instagram has quickly followed the footsteps of its parent company, Facebook. Businesses realized the importance being present on Instagram and brands want to get every drop out of their posts. But how do you get to that next level?

Several social media marketers know when and how to post to Instagram, and even who to target. But effective social and community managers go beyond that by researching and capitalizing on lesser-known Instagram stats.

New Instagram stats pop up every day. You’ll find everything from Instagram best practices to demographics to advertising success stories. All of this data can give you the edge on your competitors.

To get started, here are five Instagram stats that will help optimize your engagement and make the app a greater part of your social media marketing strategy:

1. 7 out of 10 Hashtags on Instagram Are Branded

Could you imagine the state of social media marketing without hashtags? Not only do hashtags help social media users organize and categorize content, but they’re also one of the driving forces behind some of today’s best marketing campaigns.

Hashtags are everywhere, from casual conversations on and offline to TV commercials and billboards. Hashtags for Instagram aid in content discovery and optimization. As brands increase their dependence on user-generated campaigns, hashtags continue to be important for the acquisition and promotion of Instagram content.

instagram-branded-hashtags

According to a Simply Measured study, last year brand captions on Instagram included 5,596 hashtags, which equaled 2.5 hashtags per brand post. Of the most-used hashtags, 7 out of 10 were branded.

One of the best ways to kick off a UGC campaign on Instagram is with the help of a branded hashtag. A branded hashtag is unique to your business or marketing campaign. It can be as simple as the name of your company or product, or your company’s tagline, like this popular example from Nike.

'The End' is just something they put on movies. #justdoit

A video posted by nike (@nike) on

If you’re feeling more creative, you can invent something new for your brand, like WeWork did for its #DogsOfWeWork content series.

If you’re using or plan to use branded hashtags in your Instagram strategy, be sure to pair those efforts with an Instagram management tool like Sprout Social. Through Sprout, you can see which branded hashtags receive the most engagement or which ones are used the most with your username.

sprout instagram report

2. 50% of Text on Instagram Contains Emojis

There’s no doubt that Instagram is a visual platform through and through. In fact, even its captions and comments—the sections intended for text—display images via emojis. Thanks to support from iOS and Android keyboards, now nearly 50% of captions and comments on Instagram contain at least one emoji.

Emojis go beyond the simple smiley or icon to display an emotion. Now there are roughly 1,851 different emoji options to choose from with more added all the time. These small digital images or icons are used to express an idea or emotion. With quicker adoption rates, emojis are the fastest growing language in the UK, evolving faster than ancient forms of communication, such as hieroglyphics.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at this Instagram post from the popular office supply retailer Staples.

That’s pretty much our day. How about yours? Tell us in emojis.

A photo posted by Staples (@staples) on

Not only does its post entirely focus around emojis, but the brand also encourages its fans to engage through the digital language as well.

In 2015, in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of emojis, Instagram released support for them in hashtags. This means emojis (and combinations there of) are now searchable on the platform. Following the rollout, Curalate found individual emojis were hashtagged more than 6.4 million times over a one-month period.

Global Adoption

Instagram’s research revealed emoji adoption spans the globe. Users in Finland are the most active with 63% of all text posted from the country containing at least one emoji. Here’s how other countries rank:

  • France: 50%
  • UK: 48%
  • Germany: 47%
  • Italy: 45%
  • Russia: 45%
  • Spain: 40%
  • Japan: 39%
  • US: 38%

Keep in mind that this research was conducted in 2015, so there’s a very good chance these numbers have shifted over the past year.

Popular Emojis

So how do emojis rank on Instagram? Curalate analyzed the top 100 emojis on Instagram, and here are the top 10:

instagram-most-used-emoji

The most frequently used emoji is the single red heart, which has been shared more than half a million times (at the time of the study). There’s also a lot of positivity in the list. Four out of the top five emojis are positive smiley faces. And if you look at the top 20, half are smileys. But it’s not just smileys enjoying the top spots; hearts, kisses and positive hand gestures all rank highly as well. This leads us to believe that people often use Instagram to express positive sentiment.

Although the US ranked last for emoji usage in text at 38%—and despite the fact that 80% of Instagram users are outside of the US—the American flag is the only flag to break the top 100 (sitting at number 59).

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

😄+🍦=😋

A video posted by Baskin-Robbins (@baskinrobbins) on

Emojis are more than just a marketing trend; they can add another element to your social listening strategies. Unsure whether that comment was positive or negative? The right emoji marketing strategy can help fill in sentiment gaps. Engagement doesn’t always come with context, and emojis can help you gleam a little more insight from what fans are sharing.

In terms of sharing yourself, don’t just slap any emoji onto your photo’s caption. Just as you put thought into what image you publish and the description you give it, think about the emojis you’ll use in conjunction with or in place of your text.

3. Instagram Audiences Engage More on Mondays & Thursdays

The internet is full of studies claiming to know the best posting times for social networks. To help minimize the confusion, CoSchedule rounded up the best data and found Instagram audiences are more engaged on Mondays and Thursdays at 2 a.m., 8-9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

best-times-post-instagram

Comparatively, if you’re looking for Instagram engagement (and who isn’t), you want to avoid posting between 3 and 4 p.m. There wasn’t any insight provided for this time slot, other than there’s a “slight dip in activity.” If we had to guess, we’d chalk it up to people focusing on last-minute meetings and projects at work before heading out for their commute—which explains why the 5 p.m. time slot is so good for engagement.

If you’re publishing a video on Instagram, CoSchedule found that doing so at 9 p.m. garners 34% more interactions. However, posting videos any time between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. would be fine. What’s interesting about Instagram Video is while consumption has increased 40%, photos generate 36% more likes than videos.

These days and times will likely vary by industry and individual audience. But this data gives you a place to start. We recommend tracking your Instagram analytics to measure engagement with the different posting days and times. Then you will see what works best for your content and audience.

4. 65% of Top-Performing Instagram Posts Feature Products

When it comes to what to post on Instagram, your immediate reaction is probably your products. Makes sense right? Instagram users certainly seem to think so. Research from L2 found 65% of top-performing brand posts on Instagram feature products. In fact, product posts even beat out lifestyle content (43%) and images or videos from an influencer or celebrity (29%).

But before you change your content strategy to feature your products in every post, here are a few things to consider:

  1. The 80/20 Rule: Although this rule can apply to every aspect of your marketing strategy, in this instance, it’ll focus on content creation. The 80/20 rule states approximately 80% of your content should be focused on educating, enlightening and engaging your audience, and only 20% should be self-promotional.
  2. Include faces: Not all of your images should feature standalone products. Some of your images should include faces. Instagram photos that feature faces get 38% more likes than those without.
  3. Use carousel ads to tell a story: While carousel ads offer you another medium in which to promote your products, they also provide an excellent opportunity to highlight your brand’s narrative. Rather than publishing a single image of your product, create a series that hooks your audience and builds on a concept.

Need some product-focused inspiration? Check out Frooti, the largest-selling fruit drink brand in India. The brand’s Instagram profile is full of fun, creative and boldly colored shots of its product.

Weekends almost over, ready to get back to the grind this week! #thefrootilife #frooti

A photo posted by Frooti (@thefrootilife) on

Mango = Frooti. #TheFrootiLife #Frooti #mango #juicy #artdirection #animation #mangolove

A video posted by Frooti (@thefrootilife) on

And when it comes to storytelling through carousel ads, take a look at these examples from HTC and Yogabed.

htc-instagram-ad
yogabed-instagram-ad

You might also want to consider mixing products into your user-generated content campaigns. When a consumer sees a user-generated photo, they have a 4.5% higher chance of conversion. This number increases to 9.6% if they interact with the photo.

5. The Most Used Instagram Filter Is Clarendon

There are 40 unique filters to choose from on Instagram, yet only one has captured the hearts of users in 119 countries: Clarendon. Surprised? So were we. According to Canva Clarendon tops the list, probably because it’s an all-purpose filter. It brightens, highlights and intensifies shadows. Another reason? Laziness. It’s usually the default filter after the Normal option.

Here’s a look at America’s second-most used filters by state:

us-favorite-filters-2

And for global brands, here’s a look at the second-most used filters worldwide:

world-favorite-filters-2

You can also see breakdowns for the most popular filters based on post type. For example, selfies get the most likes when used with no filter at all. Click through to view the rest of the filters included for each category and their ranks.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite filters for your brand, make content creation easier by managing your filters. Click the gear icon at the end of the filter list to select which options you’d like to appear. This is great if there are multiple people managing your Instagram account because now your images will have the same stylistic features no matter who’s posting.

manage filters gif

Track Your Own Instagram Stats

instagram reporting gif

Now you’re armed with some of the most compelling Instagram stats for marketers. How will you use them to improve your own Instagram strategy? The first thing you should be looking for is a way to track, monitor and breakdown the Instagram analytics for your business.

Any changes you make to your strategy won’t mean a thing unless you’re prepared to track the differences. With a social media management tool like Sprout Social, you can monitor hashtags, manage comments and track engagement for multiple accounts. Additionally, you can easily run and share reports on engagement, hashtags, followers, content and profile analytics.

Not only is Instagram a powerful platform for marketers and your brand, but now you have the proof to back up the claim.