Instagram can feel like a world of its own sometimes, especially to people who do not use it constantly. Nonetheless, it is an essential part of the online space and has shaped modern culture for better or worse. People are looking for the best selfies or new opportunities for a hit Instagram story. More kids and teens than ever want to be a social media influencer right from the comfort of their mobile device, and that often means taking off on Instagram.
And while Instagram might be just pictures and videos on the surface, much more is happening behind the scenes. Experts look to the demographics, the trends, and the changes that occurred in the last year and beyond. It's a platform with a lot under the hood to look at. There is a lot to gain from mastering it. Whether you are a marketer, average user, or hopeful influencer, understanding the major trends and changes will get you more from Instagram now and in years to come.
While we obviously cannot go over everything related to Instagram in one article (it would take books), here are the critical Instagram statistics and trends to know in 2022:
The User Base
First, let's look at the platform's number of active users. In general, Facebook (or Meta) has not been transparent with the numbers. However, it is estimated that the total number of Instagram users is estimated at two billion (though not all are active).
It is the second most downloaded app in the world (or was, the top five can change depending on the season). The website is the seventh most visited. And all this despite being only 12 years old. However, age doesn't mean as much online as in other places.
And we cannot talk about Instagram without talking about Facebook and perhaps also Whatsapp. Given Facebook and WhatsApp have two of the most popular messaging platforms between them. And while some would consider YouTube a social media platform for the features it has available, in all practicality, it is its own thing. That leaves Instagram and other Meta social networks to dominate across the board, with only some Chinese social media outlets competing in numbers. And given how they are effectively their world limited to mostly that country, they are their subject for a different article.
Looking at other social media networks is partially necessary because practically no one uses just Instagram. About 0.1 percent of users only use Instagram for social media. The rest will use something else to get content or keep in touch with people differently. They clearly see that Instagram isn't everything and adjust accordingly.
In terms of Instagram itself, we have a pretty good idea of the usage rate. For example:
- It is either the third or fourth most popular social media network depending on which stats you look at. In either case, few networks match up, and few will ever hope to surpass it. There are 1.452 billion active users or so, and it looks as though only TikTok is growing at a rate that will provide any real competition in the space Instagram occupies. Note that this number changes depending on your definition of active.
- Six of ten Instagram users will log in to the platform at least once daily. A remaining 21 percent of users log in weekly, and 16 percent less often than weekly. Overall, it's a pretty active group.
- Datareportal found that while there has been steady growth for some time, during most of 2022, there has been a slight decline of 26 million active users. However, this was noted by Datareportal as likely a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and not necessarily something related to Instagram policies and user preferences. Fewer people can accept the platform reliably and have other concerns that take priority. We expect that overall the platform will continue to grow, and hopefully, those users currently unable to will be able to come back online soon.
- The average user will spend about 28 minutes a day on Instagram. Naturally, some people spend a lot more time, while others will maybe spend a minute a day to check if anything is new. Compare this to the average time someone spends on social media daily, which is about two hours and 27 minutes per day.
While we certainly have averages, there will also be some outliers and changes over time. People spend more time on social media than ever, and Instagram is constantly working to ensure that people stay on the platform for as long as possible. If you want more exact numbers, you must keep on top of the platform and watch for the numbers as they come out.
Now that we've gone into the basics, let's talk about the demographics and userbases of the platform a bit more. What does the average Instagram user look like, and what are they looking at?
- The number of male users outnumbers female users, if only slightly. Regarding the advertising audience, 48.4 percent is female, and 51.6 percent is male. There are, of course, non-binary users of the platform as well, and the fact that it is just ad reach means the actual numbers might be slightly different. However, the main trend holds.
- Instagram is used worldwide, though some areas have a disproportionate number of users compared to their populations. Which countries have the most users? Datareportal has the answer based on advertising reach (the best statistic given the data available).
- You see India and the United States at the top, as you'd expect, given the population, but other countries might be a bit more surprising. You wouldn't expect Indonesia or Turkey to have such a high usage rate right off the bat. European countries might be a bit more expected given their tendency to follow the United States for some trends.
- On top of gender and country, what about age as a whole? We'll talk about the most extensive audience later on regarding marketing, but what about just the general population? Overall, here's a breakdown of the ad audiences according to Datareportal.
- Instagram certainly skews young, but that is often the case with all social media, though different platforms show a more pronounced difference in some cases.
- Note that this all is just the Instagram of today. As today's users grow older, chances are that most of them will stick with the platform. Similarly, as more people who grew up with technology or at least were familiar with it at a younger age grow into older demographics, we might not see so many differences in the future, except perhaps as a reflection of the total population.
What Do People Post About?
Tracking the exact subjects of every Instagram post is not possible. The best many people can do is hashtags, and not even they are always accurate. You've likely seen those posts with every tag under the sun to gain some traction in search results.
And there are unwritten rules and trends on Instagram that often dictate which posts win out, or at least which of two similar posts will do better. There are also written rules like the terms of service and the content policy (effectively banning dangerous or pornographic material), but those are easily found if you're interested. Some of these trends include:
- While many people bemoan the usage of filters, they are generally popular for getting likes and engagement. Some posts obviously don't need them, but people have their favorites.
- Hashtags are needed to reach out to a new and soon to be captive audience, though too many hashtags tend to drive many people off, thinking a post is spam (and it might be).
- In terms of what is trending now, the trend is often already gone by the time the stats come in and analyzed. You can take a look at what is popular by exploring Instagram yourself, however, and see what common trends pop up. Try to do so from a neutral account or find a way where the algorithm isn't skewing things.
Some of the most popular posts last year or so don't make much sense out of context. Sometimes a post can take on a life of its own, much like the world_record_egg, which as of this writing, has a bit more than 56 million likes. Others might have a connection to sports and world events. Yet these are, to some degree, outliers and have little effect on the platform's billions of other pieces of content. What is popular on Instagram is often what is popular in life or what people wish they could have or do.
Instagram and Marketing
Instagram doesn't exist as a service to make people happy. It is there to make money, and marketing is the main way it does that. The adage goes that if you aren't the customer, then you are the product, and marketers and companies looking to advertise are the customers on Instagram. Yet some are more effective than others, and the marketing trends have changed over time. What do we know about marketing now, and what can we expect from future ads on Instagram?
- There are several types of ads on Instagram, and some are obviously more effective than others. Image ads remain extremely popular and good for general purposes, while carousel ads are great for explaining a product in more depth, often getting high engagement with those who stop and look in the first place.
- Note that advertising tactics and methods regularly change on the platform on a small level (if not in huge sweeping changes), so the best or most popular ads can easily change over time and will differ depending on the company's advertising.
- Since pretty close to the platform's start, we also saw the rise of the influencer and influencer marketing. Nowadays, practically everyone wants to be an influencer, but the number of success stories pales compared to the pretenders. According to Social Pilot, about 500,000 active influencers are on the platform so that you can see the competition. Most, however, are nano or micro-influencers, perhaps being influential in a very limited niche or scope.
- The Instagram audience, on average, is an increasingly coveted one. The largest age group among those who use the platform is people ages 25-34, which is the one who generally buys things and is starting to have the money to make more and larger purposes. It's been the consumer demographic (or part of the demographic) that advertisers care about most on TV, and for a good reason.
Yet do Instagram ads and marketing work? The statistics seem to say so:
- Using advertisements on Instagram, a marketer can reach up to 22.7 percent of the population aged 13+. That is a small percentage, perhaps, but a huge number given the world's population. What other methods and platforms can boast such a number?
- About 50 percent of people have used Instagram to find a new brand. That isn't the record numbers some people hope for, but it is far better than most discoverability methods. Additionally, a good Instagram profile will be able to tell a user a lot more than what a 30-second ad can.
- About 44 percent of people use Instagram to shop in some form weekly. Many people occasionally use Instagram to shop, showing the platform's place in the online ecosystem. There will be more shopping features, and as more businesses partner with Instagram to market products and provide more direct links, we might see Instagram become a part of an online shopping center.
- About 50 percent of people are more interested in a brand when they see an ad on Instagram. Again, this seems low but think about the effectiveness of other methods. You probably can't even remember the last three ads you saw on TV if you still watch TV.
- Some ads are more effective than others. Collection ads get six percent more conversions, and video ads get three times the amount of engagement of other ad types. Marketers will want to consider the return on investment given how expensive videos can be to produce, but the results are apparent.
Instagram and Brands
Heavily related to the marketing industry and ads on Instagram are how brands operate on the platform. You might see a simple page from a local business with a few photos, or you might see a full effort put forth to try and reach and engage customers.
- Brands are more popular on Instagram than some people would think. About 90 percent of Instagram users follow a brand. Engagement numbers might not be so high in comparison, but the interest in brands is a bit of hope to social media marketers.
- There are more than 200 million business accounts on Instagram. Even if you consider that most businesses are not related or competing with each other, that's a lot of competition. Brands have to put their best foot forward if they hope to get people interested in their product and get them engaged. Otherwise, they'll move on to the next big thing, and the brand page might have a fair amount of followers but no engagement.
- Speaking of engagement, what level of engagement can businesses expect from users on Instagram? It seems the number is 0.83 percent engagement, and the numbers are dipping a bit for video and rising for carousel posts. Marketers and brands have a par to reach this number, though some brands naturally reach higher and lower engagement numbers depending on their posts, industry, and audience. People might be less inclined to engage with the brand that makes their oven than the brand that makes their favorite form of entertainment, though there are always exceptions.
- Are brands utilizing Instagram to its fullest potential? It doesn't always seem to be the case. There are always improvements to be made, but most posts (75 percent) from brands on Instagram are simple single post images. This is fine, except for the fact that both users and marketers know that video content is the more effective option much of the time, especially on social media. It might be a matter of budget or expertise, but there are still strides to be made toward the ideal setup of brand accounts.
- The average business account posts about 1.6 times a day on Instagram. However, note that not all businesses post the same amount, and some are much more active than others, even to their detriment (people do not like being spammed with brand posts).
- People aren't always afraid to interact with brands on Instagram. About 57 percent of people enjoy seeing polls, quizzes, and the like from brands on Instagram. Brands can get a direct line to consumers, and consumers can feel like their voice is heard. And if it's a brand a person likes, the effect is all the more critical.
- In something that will interest brands and marketers alike, Instagram is growing in advertising reach rapidly. Advertising reach (perhaps the most crucial statistic when a large brand decides which social media network to invest more into) on Instagram has surpassed that of Facebook, which might have been unthinkable looking at how powerful Facebook has been over the years. Facebook (6.5 percent over the last year) is growing slower than Instagram (20.5 percent), which is the reason behind this trend.
- For something a little more fun (yet informative), what are the top brands active on Instagram? While what constitutes a brand might be debatable (some people are effectively also brands at this point), we have the following list:
- Instagram at the top perhaps makes sense given that it's the platform itself, but the rest can tell us a lot. Both National Geographic and Nike put a lot of effort into their posts. Victoria's Secret perhaps speaks for itself. Yet the rest of the brands listed are sports-related and have huge followings.
- While these are the top brands, most will not be so forever. Other brands are investing more into Instagram and learning how to leverage it better. If Disney decided to put their full weight behind getting followers on Instagram, we have no doubt they would break into the top rankings. Other brands might trend more often due to being in the spotlight more. There are few rules; only follower counts.
Given the potential changes to Instagram in the future and the rapidly changing online world, it's hard to say precisely how marketers will react. Yet brands will remain an important part of the platform, and there will be more coming on in the coming years, to either succeed or languish with just a few followers.
Instagram Stories have become a major part of the platform few people could have predicted when the platform first launched. Perhaps it's how they were integrated into the app, or their growth has been a side effect of the importance of Snapchat and TikTok in recent years. In either case, you will want to be clued in on them.
- Instagram stories are used by hundreds of millions of people every day, to the tune of 500 million Instagram users. Some people will spend a few seconds on them, while others will spend hours of their time on their phones using the app. Whatever the case, they are used often.
- They are rather popular among millennials, with 60 percent of the millennial userbase either watching or creating Instagram stories.
- Instagram stories are by nature ephemeral unless the creator wants to keep them around, so people who are interested in the poster will make viewing the story a priority. Contrast this to other options for sharing content, and Instagram users often create stories for things that won't matter in some years. This allows for a more curated main feed and page.
- About 96 percent of marketers in the United States plan on using Instagram stories. Almost half of the brands worldwide use them every day.
- Instagram stories are sometimes chained together to create a longer story, unwilling to be limited by the short medium of the time allotted. Other times. There are creative uses throughout the platform if you know where to look for them.
- However, while Instagram stories are popular, they still don't have the reach of main posts. The exact numbers vary by the number of followers an account has.
Where Is Instagram Headed?
This is a lot of information, and it all begs the question of what is in store for the platform in the coming years? We'll likely see more success, but what else? While no one can predict the future of social media with perfect accuracy, we anticipate the following:
- Whether in reels, video content, or something similar, we will see a greater focus on video on Instagram. It's easier than ever to take, more engaging to many users, and Instagram will likely introduce more tools to make video easier to manage and edit on the platform. It is also not such a strain on the servers anymore, and we can also expect the algorithm to reflect the user's interest in video. Perhaps Instagram will send users to more videos they might not have otherwise looked at.
- As Instagram grows into the most marketable platform with the greatest audience reach, we will see more attempts by Instagram to monetize the platform or enhance existing features to make them more appealing to advertisers. This might affect the user experience, but overall we think it will be focused more on making advertising easier,
- With so many people and posts to go through, it might be possible that Instagram will look for more options beyond hashtags and usernames when searching for content in the future. It would allow users to find more things easily, allow a much more natural search of the photos, and better allow for searching through phrases or concepts that might not so easily come through a hashtag.
- Some things will forever remain the same. There will be a focus on filters and existing features that are popular. Instagram stories are going nowhere. The cornerstones of the platform haven't been changed, only added to. What is old will remain old but important.
- Similarly, Instagram will do everything possible to make the user experience simple and seamless. The second a user experiences a type of friction on the platform, that second is one where they consider doing something else. Instagram doesn't want that, so everything they create will be meant to be easy and make things better for users (unless it would make Instagram a lot of money).
- What do people go on Instagram for? If the stats are to be believed, one clear answer is entertainment. If people remain entertained, they'll stay on Instagram longer or come back more often. Much like how Facebook's algorithm drives engagement even if users are less happy and angrier about it, Instagram will steer users toward content that is more engaging and entertaining to them.
- Instagram might try to focus more on the community aspect of the platform. While such efforts among most networks and companies usually don't go too well, Instagram might try a different or slower approach. Including such options on a limited smartphone, space is trickier than it looks. At that point, we will have to consider whether they succeeded or not.
Sometimes, it is best to learn more about the modern state of Instagram by simply logging onto it and seeing what it offers. Exploring the platform will teach you much about the current internet and the world (if one small slice of it). Check hashtags you never would consider looking at. Follow some new people. Make the most of your research. We gave you a high-level overview; now, give yourself the average user's view. You can always quit if you don't like it. We hope you found this article useful and invite you to return to it as needed.