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Awesome New Instagram Insights and the Secret to Analyzing Audiences

By Derek Franks  •  December 5, 2018

Brand new social listening research shows the likes, feelings, thoughts, emotions and buying behaviors of global Instagram audiences

Awesome New Instagram Insights and the Secret to Analyzing Audiences

Posted by: Derek Franks on December 5, 2018

50 billion photos have been shared on Instagram.


And that barely scratches the surface of how much interaction occurs on the giant social media channel. Instagram is a massive data set of billions of people volunteering information about their lives, activities, interests and feelings toward topics, products and brands.


Regardless of whether or not your brand or business is on Instagram, it’s clear: this social media network offers incredible, must-have insights that simply cannot be ignored.


From influencers to intent-to-purchase, the channel has proven it has the ability to captivate audiences, support effective conversation and inspiration, and move people to act.


So what can you learn about all of these Instagrammers? We're going to let you in on a little secret. Social listening analysis offers new insights on global audiences that you can't find anywhere else.


Social listening tools allow us to dig deep and analyze billions of posts and conversations on Instagram and find out brand new analytics that can’t be found any other way.

INSTAGRAM REPORT: Get the Ultimate Analysis of Instagram Audiences 

Ready to learn about who IG users are, how they interact, what they love, and how they buy? Here are some amazing, exclusive insights we learned from our social listening analysis of global Instagram audiences.  


What should you know about Instagram User Demographics

In June of this year, Instagram reached 1 billion monthly users for the first time.


This shows the true power and reach of the channel. People of all walks of life are on Instagram and using it to interact, engage and give us a glimpse into their lives. What can we learn about their lifestyles, interests, passions, activities and hobbies that could provide stellar business insight?


The new data that provides fascinating answers is in!


We’re going to show you some brand new insights that you won’t find anywhere else. But first, let’s do a little housekeeping. It’s important before we even look at these fascinating new details about Instagram users that we keep in mind some key information that some very good researchers have already established.


Here are some important takeaways on Instagram and its users:


Visits: 1 billion people visit IG at least once per month, with 500 million daily users, which is 2nd only to Facebook

Users: 50.3% of Instagram users are female, 49.7% are male, almost a perfect split. 31% of all women and 24% of all men are regular Instagram users

New Users: 300 million new users have joined Instagram this year (holy cow!)

Income: 60% of Instagram users make $100K+ per year, meaning they have money to spend 

Source: Hootsuite, Omnicore, Instagram


Simply put: Instagram is HUGE. It’s filled with relevant people, conversations and data about your potential customers. And it has a substantial impact on influencing how people buy.


Now, let’s dig into the brand new data about Instagram users and discuss how businesses can better leverage the network and its audiences to lead them to success.

What we can Learn from Social Listening Analysis on Instagram

Using the right technology, we can analyze and understand the massive world of global Instagram audiences with intricacy and precision.


Think about the scale of user created content on Instagram-- there’s the 50 billion+ images that have been posted and their captions. But there is also all of the conversational data from comments, shares, mentions and hashtags. There is so much that can be learned from analyzing and deciphering those conversations.


With the help of text analytics capabilities of our social listening tool, our research provides brand new data about Instagram audiences, their interests, emotions, thoughts, favorite topics and brands.


We analyzed billions of social posts on Instagram throughout 2018 and uncovered incredible new data about Instagrammers, which we’ll explore here:

  • Usage data - who’s using Instagram, how often, and when are they most active
  • Demographics - what are the gender and age makeups of IG users?
  • Sentiment Analysis- The balance of positive, negative and neutral discussion on the channel
  • Top linguistics and hashtags- what are people talking about most, and what hashtags are most popular
  • Influencers analysis- who or what are the most influential voices and motivators for Instagram users 

Get the Instagram User Persona Profile

We built an Instagram user persona profile that shows you a fascinating roadmap to the typical Instagram user. Download it here!

Let’s take a look at the new research using social listening data to understand Instagram’s global audiences:


While previous research shows that females and males use Instagram at about the same rate, our social listening analysis found that there is a gap in engagement:



This means that female users are more active users, posting, adding comments and replies, while men may be more passive consumers of the Instagram content.


When it comes to demographics, it's important you keep in mind the evolution of consumer behavior online and find new and better metrics to measure. Let's zoom in a little more.



Think about the massive web of communication that exists online. Picture how content, words, images and videos spread from one person to the next. The world has never been so connected.


Instagram use exemplifies this.


How far does content on this channel reach? How many eyes get to see that amazing photo of Bora Bora or that cute picture of a dog’s tongue stuck in a vacuum cleaner?


Of the billions of posts we analyzed, we saw the far reaching effects the channel has. In our influencers post metadata, which shows how impactful social posts were, you see that 99 billion people were reached with some form of content on Instagram, leaving 176 billion impressions.


The sheer awesomeness of how global this network is cannot be overstated. Instagram has power to reach any type of person anywhere. And that’s what makes it such a vital business tool.


Brands are clearly looking to take advantage of Instagram’s massive audience. As Instagram advertising has become increasingly popular as a social media strategy, as well as the advertising capabilities have greatly improved, we’re seeing a considerable rise in ads on the channel.


There has been a 286% increase in the number of posts on instagram since 2015 with posts using #ad, #paidad, #paidpartnership, or “paid partnership with”.




With so much opportunity available to brands and businesses within these audiences, it’s important to analyze and understand Instagram users.

Let’s take a look at who these users are and what they’re made of, shall we? First, we’ll start with age distribution.

RETAIL REPORT: Social insights for top retail brands, shopping trends + more 

Age Distribution

Younger audiences dominate Instagram use-- no surprise there.


Target audiences for this channel should still take the bulk of the focus here.


But what we did find interesting was when we analyzed the channel with social listening, it shows that the 35-44 age segment was the largest of any other social channel or content source.


Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 8.21.11 AM


It’s important to make a distinction here. As Hootsuite notes in their demographics breakdown, 70% of Instagram accounts belong to people younger than 35, while 15% of accounts are owned by those in the 35-44 age-range.  


What our research shows is that there is a larger percentage than that in the 35-44 segment who are interacting.


23% of online voices on Insta are in this group, showing that they are likely inclined to comment and share, and it could suggest that they are highly active users in general, even though there are far fewer of them.


This could be an important consideration when it comes to the buying power of Instagrammers and the influence on purchase decisions the channel has. It also means that we have a better opportunity to understand the middle-age groups by researching them on Instagram.

GEN Z REPORT: Get the Ultimate Guide to Gen Z Personas

All in all, younger users lead the way. 18-34 remains the bellwether for Instagram audiences and businesses need to understand this as they try to reach their target on the network.


But they aren’t the only people hanging out here, and there are opportunities to reach older users, especially as more people across the spectrum adopt the Gram.



Gramming is an all day affair. Gotta keep that grid lookin’ fresh!


There’s a reason most marketers believe it is the best place for engagement. It’s not just the amount, it’s the reliability.


Instagram shows a different use-case than Pinterest does in our blog post analyzing Pinterest audiences. As to where Pinners spent the bulk of their activity in the later hours, after work and right before bedtime, Instagram is a much more even distribution:


Instagrammers are more likely to be engaged throughout the day, posting and commenting at various days as they check their phone during spare time.


If you think about the usability of the channel, this makes a ton of sense. While photo creation and posting takes considerable time for some, Pinterest requires more thinking and ideation, as well exploration. This means more “rabbit holes” and discovery for pinners, as to where Instagram engagement makes for seamless scrolling and commenting.


Instagram also differs slightly in the day of week activity:



We see a pretty straight line day-over-day, meaning that Insta-audiences are consistent with their activity. However, there’s a small dip on the weekend, interestingly. Businesses may have a better chance of reaching people on the network with weekday content.


Sentiment Analysis

Instagram is having a big moment. Its users are on the rise, as people flee its parent, Facebook. It seems like the happy place to be.


That feeling is correct.


IG is the most positive of all channels when we analyze the channel’s audiences with social listening and then compare to the rest of the content sources.


The sentiment analysis data puts Instagram at the top for most positive:


Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 8.21.51 AM


It’s true, Instagram is no place for businesses to get to know customer pain points. Twitter is the ruler there (as you see it’s the most negative).


But the positive nature of IG provides us some important information about the users there:


  1. They’re sharing details about their life that they are positive and excited about
  2. We can get to know those people by analyzing social listening metrics


Later, we’ll dig into what the top interests are of these audiences, the top themes and emotions, as well as look at some leading Instagram users and their audiences.


Instagram remains one of the top places to research and understand your customers. That’s because it is the place people are most likely to discuss things happening in their daily lives.


Let’s look at the most discussed topics, phrases and hashtags on the channel.


Linguistics and Hashtags

While Facebook is the place you are most likely to see people express their opinion, and Pinterest is used to share ideas and inspiration, Instagram is where people go to share details about who they are and what they are up to.


That makes it an especially important place for you to listen and analyze its audiences.


When we analyzed Instagram audiences in our social listening tool, we found some interesting data about what people talk about on the network.


Linguistics analysis shows the top words/terms discussed on IG over the last year:



We are very pleased that the 🔥 emoji makes the list.


While there is a less cohesive theme in this word cloud (as to where the Pinterest topic cloud showed high uses for food, crafting and health-related terms), you can take away a few things here:


  • People love to express how much they love the content or commentary
  • There is a heavy use of “link in bio”
  • Emojis are all the rage
  • Fashion, design, collecting, books and photography may be a top interest (foreshadowing to later in this article?)
  • People post more about “work” than “weekend”? What’s that about? Still, both are highly popular
  • Instagrammers love using adjectives
  • “Life” is used a lot, emphasizing about how much Instagram showcases people’s daily lives


How about hashtags?


Hashtags are are a key part to the Instagram experience. They help spread the content to people who are interested in various topics, and they help brands cast a wider net with their content in order to reach people who are important or relevant.


While you can see the salience and popularity of any hashtag by searching it in the Instagram app, it’s pretty interesting to see some of the most popular hashtags next to each other to get an idea of which are leaders amongst IG users:



Here are some highlights of the most popular hashes out there:


  • Instagram-actions
    • Grammers use terms like #photooftheday, #Instagood, #instadaily and #follow frequently
    • People love to give hat tips to or encourage sharing and commenting with with terms like #repost #regramm, #instalike, #follow
  • Looks, beauty, fashion
    • The most prevalent of terms related to people’s looks and style: #fashion, #makeup, #beauty, #lifestyle, #beautiful, #hair, #model, #design
  • Food, health and fitness
    • Like Pinterest, many people use hashes relating to either food or health and fitness, like #foodie #foodporn, #fitness, #gym, #fit, #motivation


So, let’s see if the way people talk aligns with what they are most interested in.


Audience Interests

For those who post on Instagram, what else are they interested in?


Social listening tools like Infegy Atlas can track the billions of online voices and figure out what they’ve expressed interest in elsewhere.


For example, if someone posts a photo and uses the hashtag “fitness”, we could dig into see what else that person is interested in by analyzing their other commentary online, as well as things like their online bio.


Here are the top interests of people who are active on Instagram:


Notice that some of the top interests of all the Instagram users we analyzed reflect some similar trends we saw in the topic clouds. (It’s important to restate that these interests are derived from different places than the top most discussed terms, meaning that the top interests above are especially relevant to Instagram audiences).


Here are some takeaways:

  • People are highly interested in baking, and there are a ton of food-related hashtags on IG
  • Many of the top terms were related to clothing, fashion and style, and many people across Instagram show a high interest in topics like clothing and beauty
  • Books and literature were a top conversational topic, which is interesting that it’s that popular across IG
  • World soccer, a top interest for IG users didn’t appear in our linguistics, which means people are very interested in the sport, but aren’t as vocal about it


From here, let’s take a look at some of the top emotions expressed on the Gram.


Top Emotions

IG is an ultra expressive place.


Social listening analysis gives us insights on the amount of online posts that express a specific emotion or feeling towards something. We typically see between 2-7% of posts expressing an emotion.


You can see on Instagram, that’s a different story:

It’s important to understand the types of ways people express themselves on various channels so that you can properly analyze, target, advertise, market and measure your audiences there.


We see trust is shown in a super high percentage of posts.


That’s key because research has consistently shown that consumer trust has a major impact on how they choose to spend their dollars.


In our analysis of Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign, we highlighted how trust has a direct correlation with purchase intent, and we also referenced some studies that found a large majority of people are more likely to buy from brands they trust most.


Instagram audiences are trusting audiences. As a brand, this can be a highly impactful place for you communicate with your targets and deliver your message.


We noted earlier that people love to show how much they love what they see on Instagram. It’s no surprise it’s a top emotion.


So, do people love your brand? If you’re one the top brands on Instagram, like Oreo, you expect to see a lot of people who express “love”, but looking at the analysis, the top emotion for the brand is “anticipation”.



This means there are probably plenty of posts like this, people not being able to wait for their Oreos:



By using social listening to analyze your Instagram audiences, you find important insights about the mindset and feelings of the people who matter to your brand. In understanding that people are trusting of your brand or enthusiastic about moments and events relevant to your brand, you can learn more about the consumer behaviors and motivators the impact decision making.


Now, we’ll see another aspect of influencing consumers: influencers.


Instagram Influencers

Influencers, high profile online voices that help galvanize their fan base to encourage them to act in a certain way, are nothing new.


Brands have been using a similar model in TV ads for decades. Think Michael Jordan telling you to buy soft t-shirts, or Tom Selleck and Tom Selleck’s mustache persuading you to buy life insurance.


Today’s influencers thrive on social media. And Instagram is the leading channel to leverage influencers. The difference is that these influencers aren’t big time celebrities. They belong to a specific niche or subset of audiences who have an adoring fan base, but that aren’t always massive fan bases.


There are different levels of influencers each wielding power in different ways:

micro influencers 1-1

micro influencers 2

Micro-Influencers- generally have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. While they don’t have celebrity status, they have high social influence and are deeply trusted by their followers. Your effective micro-influencer, is typically hands-on with their followers engaging with them in replies and mentions.

macro influencers

macro influencers 2

Macro-Influencers- content creators with followers between 10,000 and 1 million and have higher engagement rates. They typically don’t live the celebrity lifestyle and have more conversational tone in their sponsored content.
mega influencers Mega-Influencers- generally are followed by millions of people. These influencers can get in front of huge swaths of audiences but typically lack the authenticity that comes with a lower levels of influencers. While followers don’t trust a mega-influencer as much as a micro or macro influencer, their reach is far… but expensive.


There are different types of influencers:


Instagram’s influencers have specific topics they discuss and that their audiences are interested in: food, travel, beauty, fashion, photography, lifestyle etc


If we search a few selections from HubSpot’s list of top Instagram influencers in social listening, we find some interesting insights.


Here’s an example: We chose the top 4 travel influencers, Annette White, Matthew Karsten, The Points Guy and The Blonde Abroad, removed them as authors, then analyzed just their audiences:


There were 350,000 posts from these audiences this year.


Here’s the social persona for the audiences of the top travel influencers:



The audience’s top interests:


And top hashtags: 


If you’re a travel brand, you don’t even need to partner with influencers to leverage them for your business-- although it’s clear it would be a good play for those belonging to specific industries.


But if you’re a travel-related brand who’s looking to understand those highly interested in travel, you should turn to those who are vocal and active about travel and analyze them. There’s no better group for that than fans of travel influencers.


Instagram is the perfect place to conduct this analysis of influencer audiences.


Because IG users are more likely to volunteer details and conversational data about their actual lives, thoughts and feelings, you’ve got a perfect combination of target audiences and topical relevance to analyze with social listening. Don’t miss on this opportunity hiding in plain sight.


Why Instagram Matters

There are roughly 25 million business accounts currently on Instagram. That’s 71% of businesses. Clearly, many already understand the importance of the channel as a business entity.


But if you still need a little more motivation to utilize Instagram (and make sure you’re analyzing Instagram audiences correctly), consider this: Instagrammers are spenders, and they give you insight into their buying behaviors.


This channel provides us with myriad of data points about needs, considerations, purchase intent and spending.


According to social listening analysis, when compared to all other channels, Instagram shows some of the highest for expressing purchase intent.


And it leads all channels in the highest amount of the ‘acquisition’ theme, meaning that people are discussing their purchase, i.e. “I love my brand new running shoes!”

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 8.22.49 AM 

Instagram is a place where people naturally engage and provide feedback about brands and products. Listening to those conversations and analyzing them can provide valuable insight on people thoughts, feelings, behaviors and interests


On top of that, IG has incredible targeting capabilities, allowing you to research, refine and market to the correct audiences.


Putting this all together, it means you can gain highly meaningful business insights from analyzing the channel.


Here are some more things to keep in mind about the business impact of IG audiences:

  • More than 1 in 3 online users have used Instagram to make a purchase
  • Instagramers are 70% more likely than non-Instagram users to make a purchase online
  • 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram
  • 266 million have made a purchase directly in the Instagram platform
  • Instagram Now Has More Than 1 Million Monthly Advertisers and 8 Million Business Profiles
  • Instagram’s Mobile Ad revenue is expected to hit $7 billion in 2018.
  • 78% of influencers prefer Instagram for brand collaboration
  • User-Generated Content Has a 4.5% Higher Conversion Rate
  • 55.4% of Influencers use Instagram Stories for Sponsored campaigns

Sources: Omnicore, Lyfe Marketing


TLDR: Your business needs Instagram.


If you’re invested in your business success (of course you are!), the Gram is the place for your business to be, and its audiences are those you need data on. Fun fact: your business doesn’t need to have an Instagram account to analyze it with social listening 😉.


Instagram is a visual channel where people are posting pictures and commenting about things in their daily lives. You can learn so much about these people because they are giving you first-hand accounts of their lifestyles, interests, activities, buying habits, and brands they love.


By constantly monitoring and listening to what these audiences have to say, you uncover hidden insights about your target customers, consumers, competitors and influencers that can have a big impact on your business.


If you don’t have a social listening tool, hopefully the insights in this article on the audiences from analysis of billions of posts have helped give you some new perspectives on the massive Instagram network.


And speaking of which--  if you don’t have a social listening tool, you should get one. Click here to get a free personalized demo to see how a platform like Infegy Atlas could help you today.


What did you think of these crazy stats and brand new research? Do you have a better feeling for who Instagram audiences are? Have you had success using Instagram for business? Let us know in the comments.


Topics: social media, market research, social media research, social media strategy, social media data, social listening, social media tools, social media marketing, social listening data, demographics, buyer personas, customer personas, target audiences, social media analytics, text analytics, instagram, Gen Z, instagram analytics

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