The Instagram Shuffle: Socialbakers March Instagram Report

Our monthly report on the best brands of Instagram includes the data on top brands, and some exemplary posts to show you how it’s done.

The Instagram Shuffle: Socialbakers March Instagram Report


Like all things in spring, Instagram is experiencing a growth spurt. A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the photo sharing network’s phenomenal user growth since 2012, when it was acquired by Facebook. Users are flocking to brand pages in rapidly-increasing numbers. The top 5 pages by follower size show signs of that influx.

Three of the top five brands experienced follower growth larger than in the past month. Forever 21 had the best increase of the top overall brands, leaping from a 220,000 follower growth in February to 360,000 in March. This is happening for many top brands; when considering that in January, only Victoria’s Secret grew by more than 300,000 followers, it is clear the standard for growth has risen dramatically.


But of course, follower size is only an indicator of success, not a definitive measure of it. Followers can be attracted to a brand page for many reasons – because they are new to the network and want to follow familiar brands, because they like a certain kind of product, because they do specifically like a certain brand – you get the point. None of these numbers illustrate the importance of having a strong Instagram presence in terms of ROI. What does do this are Engagement Rates and Interactions.

These brands and industries consistently produce content that, for different reasons, encourages interactivity, which is the real prize on social because it shows people thinking about your content and your brand. Some examples of the best, most engaging posts are below.


Instagram is unique from both traditional, print, or televised visual advertisements, and other social platforms in that it incorporates the best features of both – old media’s visual icon-making, and social’s shareability.

Two of the most-engaging brand posts from March perfectly encapsulate that, because they were not actually branded content at all! GoPro’s ongoing #PhotoOfTheDay campaign encourages adventure-seeking fans to submit pictures from their GoPro cameras while they complete incredible sporting feats.

The #PhotoOfTheDay campaign does at least three things very well:

  • It encourages follower participation, and, thus, follower growth;
  • It gives GoPro a bevy of free, visually-appealing advertising options to choose from;
  • Like any good advertising, it shows off the product.

These all come together to make #PhotoOfTheDay an admirable campaign with a long shelf-life.

But there are other ways to make users’ excitement work to a brand’s advantage. Another of the most-engaged posts from March, Starbucks’ best of the month, was what is called a #regram.

Starbucks wasn’t asking followers to send in their pictures. No, they found this post on regular user @viola _ 0’s page, because she used the hashtags #coffee, #starbucks, and #vanillamacchiato. Starbucks asked her if it could regram her photo, and, with her consent they did, to wonderful results. By monitoring relevant hashtags, brands can come across great content like this without having to run a submissions-based campaign like GoPro did. It helps that Starbucks keeps its page’s tone consistently playful (one might say, spritely), so regrammed posts from real users don’t feel out of place with their branded content.

Overall, the message Starbucks delivers is consistent, relatable, and implicitly encourages other followers to upload photos of their coffee drinks or Starbucks products to Instagram and tag them with relevant hashtags.

Now, if someone manages to upload a GoPro photo that features adventure sports, that rainy-day je ne sais pas that Starbucks embodies so well, and a logo or two? That would be a #PhotoOfTheDay worthy of many, many interactions.

Liked this article? #Regram it (just kidding, but please do share). You can also check out our Instagram reports for January and February, and be sure to look out for the April report next month. Socialbakers offers the best insights in social media, and on April 30th, will be hosting the only conference for social marketers, by social marketers – Engage London 2014. There are very few seats remaining, so be sure to grab one now while you still can.

Social Media Analyst

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