If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve probably noticed that the app looks a bit different every time you log on.
The heart-shaped notification button seems to move with a mind of its own, IGTV has disappeared, and the addition of the Reels and Shop buttons has completely changed the way we interact with the platform.
While these changes seem arbitrary, they're the crucial next steps in Instagram's evolution into a video-centric social shopping platform.
In 2022, Instagram will continue to prioritize video, expand on social shopping tools, make it easier for creators to monetize their content and partner with brands, and rework direct messaging (DM) interfaces.
While these shifts align with the trends we saw in our Social Media Trends survey, we decided to dive even deeper by asking another 580 Instagram marketers about how they'll approach marketing on this changing platform in 2022.
Top Instagram Marketing Survey Findings
Based on our results, most Instagram marketers are already ahead of the game:
- 79% have leveraged Instagram Shopping tools and one in three plan to use them for the first time in 2022.
- 82% post video content on the platform and the content formats they use most are video-based.
- Instagram Live has the highest ROI of any content format. It is also the most effective for gaining followers, gets the most shares, and will see the most investment from Instagram marketers this year.
- Content that reflects your brand’s values and showcases your products/services have the highest ROI on Instagram.
- The best strategies to grow your following on Instagram are posting interactive and engaging stories, engaging with other users, and partnering with influencers.
- Instagram marketers will prioritize fostering relationships with their customers in 2022 by focusing on interacting with their audience and creating content that encourages engagement.
- 35% use the app for customer service and see high ROI.
- 30% work with influencers (or creators) and 42% plan to start this year.
- 84% say Instagram marketing was effective for their company last year.
Now that we've given you a taste of our survey findings, let’s dive deeper and take a look at some Instagram benchmarks to help you see how your brand’s account stacks up against the competition.
If you’re looking for some specific insights, click below to jump to the section you'd like to read first.
- Instagram Marketing Benchmarks
- Instagram Marketing Strategies
- Instagram Content Types
- Instagram Audience Growth Benchmarks
- Effective vs. Ineffective Instagram Marketing
Instagram Marketing Benchmarks To Know In 2022
1. Over half of branded Instagram accounts have between 10K-100K followers.
More than a quarter, or 27%, of branded accounts have under 10,000 followers, while 19% have over 100K. Regardless of the size of your community, stay tuned for a breakdown of the top strategies for growing your Instagram following.
2. Impressions can come from anywhere on the platform.
Hashtags, Explore, and Profile, are all tied at 19% for the top Instagram impression sources, but Home and Location are just slightly behind.
Hashtags and Profile are more easily discoverable by search, so make sure your handle and hashtags are search-optimized.
Some posts may do exceptionally well due to a certain combination of hashtags you used, or thanks to the algorithm suggesting your content on the Explore page. Take a look at where the impressions came from on your top posts and keep an eye out for any patterns you can turn into a consistent strategy to re-create your success.
3. Less than half of business accounts have major YoY follower growth.
But, this doesn't mean brand accounts are dramatically losing followers. In reality, only 14% report a loss while 42% have a stagnant following.
Now that we’ve gone over some benchmarks, let’s talk about goals and strategies.
Instagram Marketing Strategies
Top Strategies and Goals of Instagram Marketers
With all the changes coming to the platform, marketers’ goals on Instagram are also shifting.
The top goals Instagram marketers have for 2022 are increasing brand awareness/reaching new audiences, advertising their products/services, increasing sales, fostering relationships with customers/increasing brand loyalty, and improving customer service and retention.
Let’s talk about each of these goals in terms of how they relate to Instagram’s changing platform.
1. Spreading Brand Awareness with Content Like Videos
Instagram has made clear that its focus is turning away from photos and toward video content. Not only does this indicate that Instagram users are more interested in seeing video content, but we can assume that video content will be more likely to be suggested to users by Instagram’s algorithm.
But which type of videos should you be making?
If the amount of Reels present on your Instagram feed and explore page didn’t give it away, Instagram also added a dedicated tab for Reels in the navigation bar to drive the point home -- Reels are taking over.
And it's not just Instagram -- our social media trends survey found that short-form video is the most popular and effective format across all social platforms.
So to reach the widest audience on Instagram this year, focus on videos, especially Reels.
2. Driving Leads and Conversions With Instagram Advertising.
Advertising products/services is another top goal for Instagram marketers, and they will accomplish this by creating content showcasing their products/services and leveraging Instagram’s new shopping tools.
Content centered around a brand’s products/services is the second most popular type of content among Instagram Marketers and has the second-highest ROI of any content type.
My survey also found that marketers who leverage this type of content are 13% more likely to say their Instagram strategy was effective last year than those who don’t.
However, the most popular and most effective Instagram marketing strategy is leveraging the app’s shopping tools. But with a handful to choose from, let’s take a look at which ones perform the best.
3. Gaining Revenue With Instagram Shopping Tools
Although Instagram Shopping tools are still rather new and evolving, Instagram Shopping strategies offer the highest ROI and are already used most by Instagram marketers.
While just 37% currently use the app’s shopping tools, 94% of them will increase or maintain their investment this year. On top of that, one in three plan to use Instagram shopping tools for the first time this year.
Also, marketers who leverage Instagram’s shopping tools are 15% more likely to say their Instagram strategy was effective last year than those who don’t. So which tools perform best?
Of the shopping tools, Instagram Live Shopping and Instagram Shops have the highest ROI and are the most leveraged.
Additionally, the use of both will grow significantly in 2022, with 55% planning to try Instagram Shops and 48% planning to use Instagram Live Shopping for the first time.
Instagram feed shopping posts, Instagram Stories Shopping, and Instagram Guides Shopping are all used by over one in three marketers and are just behind Instagram Shops and Instagram live Shopping for ROI.
Reels Shopping has the lowest use and ROI, however, 42% of Instagram marketers plan to use Reels Shopping for the first time this year, the 3rd highest of any Instagram shopping tool.
Is selling on Instagram right for you? And, what are the biggest benefits and challenges you could see when using it? Stay tuned for a deep dive on even more data that we'll be sure to link to this post.
4. Building Customer Relationships and Community
The ability to foster meaningful relationships with customers is one of the biggest benefits of having a brand presence on social media platforms, so it's no surprise that this is a top goal for Instagram marketers that will become even more of a priority in 2022.
Marketers will accomplish this by investing in interacting with their audience and creating content that encourages engagement.
The Importance of Interacting With Your Audience
Audience interaction is the #1Instagram strategy marketers plan to leverage for the first time in 2022, with 46% planning to try it this year. On top of that, 15% of marketers plan to invest in it more than any other Instagram marketing strategy.
Instagram offers a wide variety of ways to interact with your audience, from simple reactions to comments and DMs. Taking the time to engage with your followers can make them feel special and strengthen their bond with your brand. But interaction is a two-way street, so you’ll also want to create content that encourages engagement.
5. Putting Engaging Content Before Other Tactics
Creating content that encourages engagement is the strategy Instagram marketers plan to invest the most in for 2022, with 17% planning to invest more in it than any other strategy.
Additionally, 43% plan to use it for the first time in 2022, the second-highest of any Instagram marketing strategy, and it has 3rd highest ROI of any strategy.
Encouraging engagement can be as simple as ending your video with a question that your followers can respond to in the comments, running a poll on your story, or going live and having a conversation with your viewers.
Going out of your way to connect with those in your digital community, especially when you aren’t trying to sell them anything, can help foster a deep relationship between them and your brand.
But there’s another great way to leverage Instagram to help serve your customers and keep them coming back - using the app for customer service.
6. Embracing Customer Service
Being a marketer doesn't mean you should toss good customer service opportunities aside on Instagram. 28% of Instagram marketers say improving customer service and retention is among their top goals in 2022, and with good reason. Leveraging Instagram for customer service is the 2nd most used Instagram marketing strategy and has the 2nd highest ROI of any strategy.
To make the case for providing customer service on the app even stronger, I found that marketers and brands who leverage Instagram for customer service are 17% more likely to say their Instagram strategy was effective last year compared to those who don’t.
7. Leveraging Hashtags
Hashtags have been around on Instagram since 2011, and 82% of Instagram marketers continue to leverage them, with 85% following a documented hashtag strategy. But are they effective?
80% of Instagram marketers say hashtags were effective for their Instagram strategy last year. Furthermore, marketers who leverage hashtags when posting on Instagram are 23% more likely to say Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year. That number goes up to 30% when looking at those with a document hashtag strategy.
We also found that marketers who use a mix of niche and general hashtags are 20% more likely to say Instagram marketing was effective for their brand in 2021.
Make sure to leverage a few specific hashtags like #Dachsunds along with more popular ones like #Dogs for the best results.
How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?
Our survey shows that 62% of Instagram marketers use 4-9 hashtags, and only 1% use the maximum of 30.
Also consider using a branded hashtag when posting on Instagram, such as #CocaCola, for example.
53% of marketers say most of the brands they work for use branded hashtags, which can be great for creating a community around your brand and offer an easy way to find posts from or about your brand in one place.
Next, let’s talk about which call-to-action is most effective on Instagram.
8. Including Calls to Action in Content
We asked Instagram marketers whether asking followers to “like,” “share,” or “save” their content is most effective at triggering the algorithm to promote their content, as these are known to be the top metrics Instagram monitors. Here are the results:
While Instagram marketers rank likes at #1, shares second, and saves last, I would argue that this is backwards.
To explain why, consider your behavior when on Instagram. If you’re like me, you probably give out likes mindlessly while scrolling through your feed, but how often are you sharing content to your story or in chats with friends? How often are you saving posts to look at later? Those pieces of content are probably much more carefully selected.
When we share posts on Instagram, we are telling others that we found the content so valuable that we couldn’t help but share it with them - the algorithm picks up on this. Sharing also gets bonus points because it inherently exposes more people to a piece of content.
Similarly, when saving content, we tell the algorithm that we found it so valuable that we want to bookmark it for future reference.
So while all three of these are the most important metrics Instagram tracks, I would prioritize saving, sharing, or even commenting in your call-to-actions ahead of asking for likes.
Strategies Marketers Aren't Using in 2022
User-generated content, contests or giveaways, and affiliate marketing have low usage, ROI, and are the least likely to be leveraged on Instagram for the first time in 2022.
While these strategies can still be successful and valuable to some brands, marketers we surveyed say they are not as effective as the other strategies we asked about.
If you're having difficulty building an effective UGC, affiliate marketing, or giveaway plan, consider alternatives, like partnering with influencers in your niche who can generate authentic content for your brand to establish social proof and spread awareness. Our marketing trends survey found influencer marketing to be the most popular and most effective trend, with the highest ROI.
Now that we’ve gone over Instagram marketers’ goals and strategies in 2022, let’s talk about which formats are most effective on the platform.
Which Instagram Formats Are Most Effective?
The formats Instagram marketers leverage most are live, stories, and interviews/Q&A/Expert discussions. Let’s take an in-depth look at each of them.
Instagram Live has the highest ROI and use will grow significantly in 2022 as 49% of Instagram marketers will invest in Instagram Live for the first time and 22% will invest more in Instagram live than any other format.
We also asked Instagram marketers which format is most effective for gaining followers, and Instagram Live came out ahead there as well, though closely followed by stories and feed posts.
Instagram Stories have the 2nd best ROI and are leveraged by 45% of Instagram marketers. Of those who don’t use it, 45% plan to leverage stories for the first time in 2022, the 2nd highest of any format. Instagram stories are also the #2 format for gaining followers and getting your content shared on IG.
Interviews, Q&As, and Expert Discussions
Interviews/Q&As/Expert discussions are used by 31% of marketers, with 42% planning to try them for the first time in 2022 and 10% planning to invest more in them than any other format.
Only one in four Instagram marketers use Reels and just 29% of Instagram marketers plan to leverage reels for the first time in 2022.
While Reels fall in the middle of the pack across all metrics, we believe that this is feature is greatly underutilized and could actually provide unique and new opportunities for brands.
In fact, brands and influencers who have focused on it have seen major benefits to leveraging it. For example, we recently spoke with Kar Brulhart, who has organically grown her Instagram account from zero to 45,000+ viewers in under 10 months using Reels. She told us about the incredible opportunity Reels presents for Instagram marketers:
"I went from less than 2,000 followers in February 2020 to over 15,000 the next month through Reels, because Instagram is pushing Reels to new audiences. And 75% of the people who find my account are coming from Reels — compared to Stories and posts."
Considering the popularity of short-form videos and the emphasis Instagram is placing on Reels, Instagram marketers may want to give Reels a shot as they are relatively easy to make and can provide a boost in exposure.
Now that we’ve gone over the top formats, let’s take a look at which content types are most popular on Instagram.
Which Types Of Content Perform Best On Instagram?
The top Instagram content types reflect a brand’s values, are centered around a brand’s products/services, are interactive, authentic, and funny. Let’s take a look at what makes each of these content types so popular among Instagram marketers.
Content That Reflects Brand Values
Content that reflects a brand’s values was the #1 content type in our social media trends survey and that is also true for Instagram marketers, 44% of whom use it.
Instagram marketers say it has the highest ROI of any content type. Additionally, 45% say they will invest in it for the first time in 2022, the highest of any content type, and 11% will invest more in it than any other type of content.
Content Centered Around A Brand’s Products/Services
Content centered around a brand’s products/services is leveraged by 39% of Instagram marketers and has the 2nd highest ROI. 39% will leverage this type of content for the first time in 2022.
Interactive Content and/or Authentic/Behind-the-Scenes Content
Interactive content and authentic/”behind the scenes” content are both popular among Instagram marketers and will grow in 2022.
44% of Instagram marketers plan to leverage interactive content for the first time in 2022, followed by Authentic/”Behind the scenes” content at 40%. Both are tied at the #1 spot for the content type marketers plan to invest more in than any other in 2022.
Funny content is the most effective for getting followers, shares, and engagement on IG.
Now that we’ve gone over the different Instagram formats and content types, let’s dig into the top strategies for growing your following on Instagram.
Instagram Audience Growth Benchmarks
How Brands Grow Instagram Audiences
To grow your following on Instagram, the top 3 strategies are posting interactive and engaging stories, engaging with other users, and partnering with influencers.
At #4, sharing your Instagram page and content on various channels, like other social media platforms or your website, is also important for growth.
The next most popular strategy is diversifying your content to resonate with a wider audience, but you’ll also want to study your audience for trends and make targeted content to attract others with similar interests.
Another powerful growth strategy is adding a simple call-to-action to “like,” “save,” or “share” your content at the very end of your captions - if someone read it all the way through, they probably got value from your content and will be inclined to comply. If users take these actions, it will give your content a boost in the eyes of the algorithm and put it in front of more people, who may end up following you.
Lastly, you can also get a boost in growth by partnering with brands or accounts in a similar niche, as their audiences will likely be interested in your content as well.
These are the best strategies to grow your following in general, but we also asked marketers about the top strategies they used to reach their first thousand followers, and the results show some key differences.
How To Get Your First 1,000 Instagram Followers
Earning your first 1,000 followers on Instagram is a massive milestone, and 78% of Instagram marketers have been part of growing an account to 1k followers. According to them, creating shareable content and captions, as well as using relevant hashtags are key to reaching your first 1k followers.
Remember that the formats most effective at getting shares are live video, stories, and feed posts, while the top content types for shares are funny, interactive, and reflective of your brand’s values.
Now that you know how to reach 1,000 followers, you may be wondering how long it might take.
How Long Does It Take To Reach 1,000 Followers On Instagram?
Around 1 in 4 Instagram marketers reach 1,000 followers in 1-3 months, while 39% say it takes 4-6 months. Only 13% were able to reach the 1k milestone in under a month, and just 1% took over a year.
But just as you gain followers, it’s also possible to lose them. Let’s take a look at what has caused Instagram marketers to lose followers, so you can avoid those mistakes.
What Causes Instagram Marketers To Lose Followers?
Not posting enough and being too “sales-y” are the top culprits when it comes to losing followers. 1 in 3 Instagram marketers also report losing followers from posting too often and not being consistent with their brand voice or aesthetic.
Lastly, using “banned” hashtags can result in your posts being hidden. You can check if a hashtag is banned by searching it on Instagram and looking at the top or most recent posts -- if those sections come up empty, it’s likely banned.
Instagram Video Features
In line with Instagram’s video-centric changes, 82% of Instagram marketers currently post videos on the platform, and those who do are 16% more likely to say Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year.
The most popular video formats among marketers are Instagram Live, posting videos to their stories, posting videos to their feeds, and Instagram Reels.
So let’s take a look at some feature-specific data on each of these.
Instagram live is not only the most leveraged video feature, but marketers who use it are 22% more likely to say that Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year. Here are the content types that get the most engagement when going live on Instagram:
78% of Instagram marketers leverage stories, and those who do are 23% more likely to say that Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year.
But how often should you be posting stories? 43% post stories multiple times a week, while 26% post multiple times a day, and 23% post daily.
Another common question is how long stories should be. 75% of Instagram marketers who leverage stories say their audience watches 4-9 story pages before dropping off, with only 7% saying their audience watches the entire story regardless of length.
We also asked about the ideal number of stories to have up at once - 74% of Instagram marketers say 4-9 stories is best:
Curious about which story types are most engaging? Check out this post.
Instagram Feed Posts
Though not exclusive to video, the modern Instagram feed is dominated by video content. 80% of marketers post to their feeds in their marketing role, but the frequency of their posting varies, with 45% posting multiple times a week, 23% posting once a day, and another 23% posting multiple times a day.
You may also be wondering about how long your captions should be when posting to your feed. 2 in 3 marketers say the optimal caption length to maximize engagement with a feed post is medium (31-50 words).
For a deeper dive on this, check out this post on instagram video formats.
Next, let’s take a look at whether Instagram marketers are leveraging organic or paid media on the platform, and which performs better.
Organic vs. Paid Instagram Content
Among those who use a mix of paid and organic content, paid content is somewhat more effective for reaching business goals and for gaining followers.
However, effective marketers are 20% more likely to leverage both organic and paid content compared to those who described Instagram as ineffective for reaching their business goals in 2021.
Speaking of effective and ineffective marketers, let’s end with a look at what sets the two groups apart.
Setting Effective and Ineffective Instagram Marketers Apart
Lastly, we asked Instagram marketers whether Instagram marketing was effective or ineffective in 2021, and looked at the data by the two separate groups. Here are some of the biggest differentiators:
As we end this post, here are a few themes we've picked up from the chart above, and the overall results of our survey:
- Video is key: Instagram is constantly evolving to welcome more and more video formats. While you don't need to create a large live video event, consider starting small with Reels as it is being favored by consumers and the Instagram algorithm.
- Engage constantly: Whether you're responding to their comments, exchanging DMs, or creating content that sparks a conversation – it's important to ensure that your Instagram strategy caters to your audience and meets them where they are.
- Social Shopping is the future: Shopping on social media is the future of e-commerce, and Instagram is the best place to do it. With a handful of shopping tools to choose from, there is no better time to get started.
- Use Instagram for customer service: Using Instagram for customer service is a quick and convenient way to answer customers’ most pressing questions, and marketers who use it see high ROI.
- Hashtags aren't going anywhere: Hashtags are highly searchable, make your content more discoverable, and most marketers who use them plan to continue doing so. While you shouldn't go overboard with too many hashtags, consider how you can leverage them creatively within upcoming content or if there are ways you can participate in hashtag trends on the platform.
More of Our Instagram Marketing Research
Check out these posts for a deeper dive as well as tips and tricks related to our Instagram marketing data.
- The HubSpot Blog's Instagram Shopping Report: Data from 500+ Instagram Marketers
- The Top Instagram Marketing Challenges
- The Top Reasons Brands Lose Followers
- Do Brands Use Instagram Shopping Tools? [Data from 500+ Marketers]
- Which Instagram Story Formats Really Engage Viewers [New Research]
Interested in learning even more about Instagram marketing and engagement from some of our expert partner brands? Be sure to download the free resource below.
Originally published Apr 19, 2022 7:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2022