The State of Instagram Marketing 2019 – Part 1: Current Use of Instagram by Marketers

The State of Instagram Marketing 2019 – Part 1: Current Use of Instagram by Marketers


Instagram is the social media platform of the moment.

The Facebook-owned visual platform now boasts over a billion active users, and it’s continued to diversify its offerings beyond its digital photo album roots, incorporating more video (IGTV), more creative content options (Stories) and expanded messaging tools for direct communication.

For individuals, all of these additions are significant, but for brands, the rise of Instagram could be even more relevant. Along with that expanded audience reach, Instagram has also been looking to maximize its revenue opportunities by introducing more tools for business use, and further evolving the platform towards a whole new level of eCommerce connection. Influencer marketing is the order of the day on the platform, while the introduction of business profiles, Shopping Tags, and the shift towards on-platform purchases are all building more and more of a case for Instagram as a digital marketing option.

But how are brands actually using Instagram, and what future opportunities are they most excited about?

That’s what we sought to discover with our latest survey report – we recently partnered with the team from SEMRush to put to gather insights from our combined communities in order to glean more information about business use of the platform, and what’s coming next.

More than 800 digital marketers took the survey, giving us a strong indicator of brand interest and engagement on the platform. Over the next few days, we’ll take an in-depth look at each element of the findings, and what they mean for your strategy.

This is the first part of our overview, but you can download the full report at any time here.

Part 1: Current State of Instagram Marketing

In order to get a true understanding of the relevance of Instagram as a marketing option, we first need to get a handle on how brands are currently using the app, and which elements of the platform are delivering results.

Our first survey question was simple – ‘Are you currently using Instagram for marketing purposes?’

The responses show that if you’re not yet on board the Instagram train for your business, you likely should be.

Chart of brands currently using Instagram for marketing purposes

More than 90% of respondents to our survey indicated that they are already using the platform within their social media marketing effort, which helps to contextualize the proceeding answers. Based on this, you can assume that the remainder of the responses are based on experience, not on gut feel or assumption, which may provide a more indicative measure for your own planning.

And given this, it’s particularly interesting to note the responses to our second question – ‘Which Instagram features are you currently using for marketing purposes?’

Chart shows Instagram functions commonly used by marketers

If you’ve been thinking about getting into Instagram Stories, you’re not alone. More than 80% of respondents indicated that they’re already utilizing Stories within their marketing effort, pointing to the rising relevance of the option – which Facebook itself has long been touting as the future of social media connection.

Indeed, Instagram Stories, which now has more than 500 million daily active users, is fast becoming a must-have in your social strategy. It may not initially seem like it’s of relevance to your audience, and you may not feel like your brand has anything to create Stories about. But Stories, increasingly, is becoming a key platform within itself – and worth noting, more than 1.25 billion now use the various Stories options across Facebook’s family of apps every day.

Chart shows Stories usage across Facebook's apps

(Chart courtesy of Buffer)

That kind of growth is hard to ignore – and clearly, based on this insight, the majority of brands are looking to tap into the habitual trend.

The popularity of Stories Highlights further reinforces this shift, while Instagram ads have become an increasingly popular option too – particularly given their integration with Facebook’s Ad Manager, making it easy to expand your Facebook campaigns across to Insta also.

The responses also show that IGTV is yet to capture marketing attention, with only 16.5% of respondents using it, while Shopping Tags are still in their early stages of rollout, which makes their current popularity difficult to measure.

It is interesting, though, that so few brands are utilizing Instagram Live.

The popularity of live-streaming on other platforms would suggest that there could be significant opportunity here – on Facebook’s main platform, for example, live videos see 3x more engagement than non-live video posts, while videos also generate 59% more engagement, on average, than static updates and links.

Instagram Live may not be as popular, but the prominent placement of Instagram Live streams, right at the top of user feeds, and the relative engagement rates of video would suggest that this is an option that more brands should consider moving forward.

As noted, these, and more insights are included in our full ‘State of Instagram Marketing’ report, which you can download here. We’ll recap the other key elements in a series of posts this week. 

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