10 Instagram Statistics to Keep in Mind When Planning Your 2018 Strategy

stories search1(2)Digital marketing changes very rapidly, so it’s important to stay caught up with new platforms, strategies and tactics.

One thing that can be extremely helpful when trying to stay ahead of the game is keeping an eye on stats – while you always need to be careful and consider the source of said statistics, they can help you predict trends and isolate opportunities in the market to make an impact.

The following Instagram stats could prove extremely valuable when planning your Instagram strategy for 2018. Check them out.

1. 70% of Hashtags on Instagram Are Branded

Brand engagement is notoriously higher on Instagram than other social channels. Brands have accepted this and decided to deploy their own hashtags to help organize the conversation.

Keep this in mind when planning campaigns in 2018 – having a campaign-specific hashtag can be very useful when tracking performance.

Get the rest of the stats here.

Brands Use Instagram Stories More Than Twice as Often as Snapchat

InstagramSnapchatiPhoneIconsFeatured-640x460Can Instagram finally eat Snapchat’s lunch once and for all? According to a new report from L2, brands are uploading to Instagram Stories more than twice as often as they are on Snapchat.

The firm tracked 89 brands who have both an Instagram and Snapchat account during July, finding that marketers posted 1,347 Instagram Stories compared to 614 Snapchat Stories. During the week of July 10, for example, 41 percent of marketers used Instagram Stories compared to 9 percent of brands who posted to Snapchat.

Moreover, Snapchat Stories are concentrated to a smaller section of brands, namely beauty and hair care marketers. Seventy-two percent of the Snapchat Stories analyzed came from beauty brands while retailers made up 13 percent of snaps. Travel, automotive, consumer electronics and activewear made up the remaining 15 percent.

On Instagram Stories, beauty and hair care brands made up 38 percent of the posts analyzed while retailers generated 26 percent of Stories. Luxury and consumer-packaged-goods marketers posted 21 percent of content. The other 15 percent of content came from activewear, consumer electronics and other types of marketers.

“As Instagram becomes the mainstream choice for brand Stories, Snapchat risks being niche-ified,” wrote L2 in the report.

Snapchat has been under fire from Instagram for more than a year, as the Facebook-owned app has steadily ripped off Snapchat’s features while increasing its users thanks to support and targeting tools from Facebook’s ecosystem. In June, Instagram reported 250 million daily users for Stories while Snap said it had 166 million daily users during its first earnings call in May.

While Snapchat has added tools for its users like links, “Instagram has integrated ecommerce handoff technology into Stories, namely swipe-up links leading to brand sites, linked influencer tags, and checkout buttons that support brand efforts to move beyond engagement metrics and render their live video content shoppable,” L2 noted in the report. “Snapchat, meanwhile, has made few adjustments to its Stories content tools, limiting the ability of brands to leverage owned content for ecommerce.”

The report also analyzed Facebook Live videos and L2 tracked 45,000 videos from 426 brands that were uploaded between August 2016 and June 2017. The firm found that 4.4 percent of brands’ uploaded videos in June were created with Facebook Live, up from 1 percent in August 2016. Luxury was the top category for brands using Facebook Live, making up 22 percent of the clips uploaded. Automotive made up 20 percent, activewear generated 14 percent and beauty brands uploaded 11 percent of the clips.

There’s still some work to be done around making sure that people see branded Live videos in newsfeeds though—unless you want to pay.

Per L2, 78 percent of Facebook Live video views were paid, an increase from 57 percent in November 2016. L2 pointed to Samsung as an example of a brand pouring money into Facebook Live—the manufacturer spent nearly $3 million on Facebook ads during the first quarter of 2017 as it launched the Galaxy 8 smartphone. A 90-minute livestream of the brand’s Unpacked event included paid promotion and racked up 1.6 million views and 14,000 shares.

Instagram Stories is still growing quickly and now has 250 million users

snapchat_vs_instagram_stories_01Instagram Stories is picking up steam.

The company reported Tuesday that Stories, the feature that lets users share videos and posts that disappear after 24 hours, is now used by 250 million people every day. That means Stories added 50 million new users in two months, one month faster than its jump from 150 million to 200 million users.

Instagram is also changing its live video feature so users can now share those live videos to their Stories. Originally, live videos on Instagram disappeared as soon as the broadcast ended, but now they could exist for up to 24 hours.

Facebook loves to tout these big user growth milestones, but the significance here is that Instagram’s version of Stories appears to be growing faster than it was at the beginning of the year. (Instagram reports these numbers whenever it wants, though, so it’s tough to say for sure.)

The new milestone means almost 100 million more people use Instagram Stories than use Snapchat, the actual inventor of the Stories format. That’s a bummer for Snapchat, because they clearly invented something that people want to use — Instagram has just scaled it more quickly.

Instagram’s growth speeds up as it hits 700 million users

instagram-700m-2017-04.pngInstagram has doubled its user base, to 700 million monthly actives in two years, fueled by Stories, web signups and better onboarding on low-end Android phones. Instagram’s growth rate is actually speeding up. It took just four months to add the last 100 million users since hitting 600 million in December, while it took six months to go from 500 million to 600 million.

Here’s a breakdown of how long it took Instagram to add each 100 million users:

  • October 6, 2010 – Launch
  • February 26, 2013 – 100 million;  28 months
  • March 25, 2014 – 200 million; 13 months
  • December 10, 2014 – 300 million; 9 months
  • September 22, 2015 – 400 million; 9 months
  • June 21, 2016 – 500 million; 9 months
  • December 15, 2016 – 600 million; 6 months
  • April 26, 2017 – 700 million; 4 months

Read the full article here. 

It’s getting harder and harder to tell Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter apart

500177608.0The world’s most popular social apps are starting to look a little … similar.

As companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap have evolved, they’ve started to borrow product ideas from each other in the hope of building an all-in-one experience.

These networks are ad-supported, which means the more time users spend inside their app, the more money the companies can make.

Copying features that are popular with competitors is one way to try and increase time spent, which explains why we’ve seen so much of it recently.

The result, though, has been a rather uninspiring race to the middle. Each app is losing its unique identity in favor of features you can find inside numerous competitors.

Facebook is the worst offender here — it copied Snapchat’s signature Stories feature into four separate apps over the past nine months. Snapchat, meanwhile, is the most obvious victim on this list.

We mapped out a few of the most-imitated features below, and the companies that are copying them, though there are plenty of others that didn’t make the list:

At the center of the diagram, unsurprisingly, is Facebook and its mini-me, Instagram. Even traditional messaging services, like Messenger and WhatsApp, seem to be headed in the more traditional social direction. (Note: They are both owned by Facebook.)

 It’s possible this convergence means there is room for unique social apps to crop up and succeed, like Houseparty and its group-video feature, or Musical.ly and its user-generated music videos. More likely: The bigger players will wait these little guys out to see what works and which apps are stealing their time, and then make a move.

Instagram Stories is stealing Snapchat’s users

Good enough and convenient. That’s proved a winning strategy for Instagram’s clone, according to a dozen analytics providers, social media celebrities, and talent managers who told TechCrunch they’ve seen a decline in Snapchat Stories usage since Instagram Stories launched on August 2nd.

Most reported declines in Snapchat Stories view counts ranging from 15 to 40 percent, and a reduction in how often they or those they monitor post to Snapchat Stories. Meanwhile, our sources report rapidly growing view counts on Instagram Stories, and engagement-to-follower rates one social influencer talent agent called “Insanely f*cking high”.

The success of Instagram Stories, the decline in Snapchat usage we’ve heard from a wide array of sources, and Facebook’s relentless drive to compete with the startup could spell trouble for Snapchat’s IPO on the NYSE market that’s expected in March. Snap Inc declined to comment for this story.

Here’s how the social media content industry sees the impact of Instagram Stories on Snapchat.

 

Instagram Vs Snapchat

“Everyone is posting way less. Some are not posting at all anymore” on Snapchat, says the CEO of a social content production studio about the dozen social media stars they represent.

Several sources refused to be named in print for fear of retaliation from Snapchat or because they weren’t authorized to disclose client data. But across the social content production firm’s stars, the CEO says there’s been an average decline in Snapchat Stories views of 20 to 30 percent from August until mid-January.

In the 25 weeks since launch, Instagram Stories has reached 150 million daily users. That’s the same number of users that Snapchat’s whole app reportedly hit around June 2016, after seeing swift growth from 110 million daily users in December 2015, Bloomberg reported. Snapchat hasn’t announced a higher number since, nor has one leaked, despite it trying to impress potential investors during its current pre-IPO roadshow.

Snapchat is expected to publicly file to IPO this week, and that might include some larger stats. But the consensus from our sources is that they’d be higher if not for Instagram Stories, and Snapchat’s long-term growth, especially internationally, will be hindered by the competition.

Analytics Provider Shows Widespread Snapchat Decline

“Overall, from August to November 2016, the average unique viewers per Snapchat Story has decreased about 40%” says Nick Cicero, CEO of creative studio and social video analytics platform Delmondo. His company analyzed 21,500 Snapchat Stories to discover the steep decline.

Delmondo saw roughly a 40 percent decline in unique viewers across 21,500 Snapchat Stories analyzed from July (100%), before Instagram launched Stories, through November. Graph updated with Y-axis.

 

Meanwhile, influencer marketing platform TheAmplify’s CEO Justin Rezvani says “On average our influencer community is seeing 28 percent higher open rate on Instagram than Snapchat”, referring to view count.

As for downloads, App Annie shows Snapchat saw a big drop right when Instagram Stories launched at the beginning of August. It fell to its lowest ranking all year, #11, after hovering in the top 3 for the first half of 2016. It’s unclear why it bounced back at the end of October, but it’s begun to slip again.

snapchat-download-ranking

Removing Auto-Advance Added Friction To Snapchat

snapchat-story-playlist

One thing that’s important to know as we review these reports is that Snapchat removed its Auto-Advance feature on October 7th, so users could no longer instantly watch every Story in their list in a row. Instead they had to manually select Stories to load as an ad hoc Story Playlist (pictured here), though there’s a little-known way to select all Stories with by tapping the triangular dot button.

This change should have directly caused some drop in views since Snapchat users aren’t being shown Stories they’re less interested in, which they might have fast-forwarded through while still triggering view counts. Snapchat marketing and analytics company Mish Guru’s CEO Thomas Harding says that in October when Snapchat removed Auto-Advance, a selection of its client accounts that have been posting consistently saw an immediate 9.64% drop in views.

You could argue that the remaining views are more intentional and therefore more valuable. But the change also made it less convenient to lean back and watch a day’s worth of Snapchat the way you used to on Snapchat and can on Instagram thanks to its Auto-Advance feature. And several sources think that’s leading some users to open Snapchat less overall.

Stars See Snapchat Views Down 15 to 30 Percent

Social talent agent Charlie Buffin who represents some former Vine stars says one of his top creators was averaging 330,000 views per day on Snapchat in late 2015 until June 2016. But by December, they were receiving 205,000 to 250,000 views per day.

“It is clear to us that regular users’ Snapchat usage/engagement have gone down significantly since the release of Instagram Stories” writes Buffin. He also noted that “Snapchat removing the Auto-Advance feature has affected the natural ‘binge-watching experience’ for consumers, which is really cutting into views for creators.” But Snap Inc doesn’t seem to care. “Snapchat has always remained distant from its creator community, which is not a strong move for the company” Buffin concluded.

snapchat-ad-deck

 

One star, Hannah Stocking, saw her Snapchat Stories views fall from 150,000 on August 16th to 90,000 on January 17th. That’s despite massive growth on other platforms like YouTube, and Instagram where she rose from 1.2 million to 4.3 million followers in the same time frame. “Her Instagram Story numbers are growing faster than anything right now” says John Shahidi, founder Shots Studios, the Justin Bieber-backed selfie app and video creation startup that represents Stocking.

Media marketing and business development agency Fighter Interactive’s CEO Kwasi Asare tells me “Snapchat opens have gone down a minimum of 15 percent for some big social media stars.” He sees the removal of Auto-Advance as mistake, saying “Snapchat messed up by letting people choose whose stories they view individually. Instagram has more of a flow where it allows you to watch the stories of everyone you’re following.

Asare also believes Instagram’s clone has quickly risen to equal status with teens, noting that “Most kids are starting to post on Instagram or Snapchat, and then post on the one they didn’t post on first.”

Influencers Crave Instagram’s Reach

Social talent media company Galore’s CEO Mike Albanese says “Influencers that were late to build an audience on Snapchat pretty much abandoned the platform because it was so much easier for them to reach more people through their existing audience on Instagram Stories.”

Snapchat doesn't have an Explore tab to promote social stars the way Instagram does here

That said, he was the only source we asked who said that they’d seen growth in Snapchat views, though that was for “top Snapchat influencers” like models Val Mercado and Sahara Ray, and actress Ava Allen who he says pour a ton of effort into Snapchat and heavily promote their account through their other social presences. But he believes “there are less Snapchat Stories being published on a daily basis overall versus August of last year.”

A leading social media talent company’s co-founder tells me that amongst the stars they work with, “Almost all of them are down about 20 to 25 percent on Snapchat” since August.” One of their creators was seeing 75,000 opens per Story in August, and only 50,000 now. Another went from 50,000 to 30,000. Meanwhile, the stars are seeing 6 to 10 percent of their Instagram followers opening their Instagram Stories each day, which the co-founder called “really f*cking high”.

“Marketers are dedicating more resources to Instagram because you can’t grow on Snapchat. Now there’s a lot of campaigns we don’t even need to do on Snapchat.”, they say. “The only way to grow is from [cross-promoting on] YouTube or Instagram. Snapchat is making some of the same mistakes as Vine. They aren’t embracing creators. They want to be private messaging.” In contrast, Instagram promotes social media stars and helps them grow their Stories views by featuring them on its Explore tab that Snapchat lacks.

Then they gave perhaps the most damning quote we heard. “Everyone has forgotten that Instagram Stories is a Snapchat clone.”

Raining on Snapchat’s IPO Parade

 

These industry reports build on a mountain of anecdotal evidence about Instagram stealing Snapchat users that I’ve heard online and from my network, and seen in my own usage and view counts.

It seems Facebook has finally found way to challenge Snapchat after multiple failed attempts since it turned down the social giant’s first acquisition offer in 2012. Poke, Slingshot, Bolt, and Flash all flopped as standalone apps, while baking Snapchat’s best features deep inside Facebook seemed to have little effect.

But by putting a Snapchat clone front and center atop Instagram’s feed, the Facebook family of apps discovered a way to make its version more convenient to use than the original. And emboldened by Instagram’s success, now Facebook is testing similarly designed Snapchat clones in its main app as Facebook Stories, and its chat apps as Messenger Day and WhatsApp Status.

instagram-600m-2016-12

Snapchat lovers are exporting and syndicating their Stories to Instagram for extra reach. Those who’d only recently gotten into posting Snapchat Stories are finding it easier to watch and share on Instagram where they already spend time and have built a social graph. And people who’d never tried Snapchat but were intrigued by Stories are finding Instagram is good enough that there’s no need to sign-up for Snapchat.

It’s that last one that might be most threatening to Snap Inc’s IPO. We’re already seeing how Instagram is eating up Snapchat usage, reducing the Stories views it depends on to drive ad revenue. Yet what matters to Wall Street is growth potential. Ad-driven social networks need massive scale, which usually comes from international domination.

That can’t happen if Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp deliver the Stories feature to foreign countries where Snapchat hasn’t gained traction already. Around 80 percent of Instagram’s 600 million monthly users are international. And if Instagram Stories continues on this trajectory, it could prove bigger than the app it copied.

As I wrote a week after the launch, Instagram Stories castrated Snapchat, even if it can’t kill it. Snapchat will continue to have a lively user base, though Instagram may inhibit its continued expansion.

snap-inc-hardware

 

Reports from social media celebrity managers and analytics companies that work with big accounts may present a more dire outlook than what’s going on with average teens on Snapchat. Kids under 25 in the US who are completely immersed in Snapchat might not stray. But Instagram may be convincing the 25 to 35-year olds who came of age on its app to stick around, while it’s swooping on international teens before Snapchat gets popular in their market. Plus, vanity dictates that people will share where they get the most views, and many people have spent years longer building their Instagram audience.

Going Public With A Different Story

With its future in broadcast social media under fire, Snap Inc may need to tell a different story for its IPO. At the least, it might have to concentrate on touting its average revenue per user rather than its scale.

It has spent the past quarter repositioning itself as “a camera company” that makes hardware like its Spectacles camera-sunglasses. It’s also tried to double-down on the app’s first feature, disappearing private messaging, by adding a groups feature and improved navigation. But scrounging together hardware profits and monetizing chat directly can be quite challenging.

In six months, the game has changed for Snapchat, and not in its favor. Once the undisputed king of cool amongst Western teenagers with the potential to disrupt the world’s biggest social network, it’s now in danger of becoming just one of several popular apps for ephemeral storytelling.