Social Media Guide to Posting on Instagram

March 30, 2018

Written by NewsWhip
Instagram analytics

We break down the Instagram posting habits of leading brands such as Airbnb, Forever 21, and Starbucks to see how post frequency varies by sector.

Instagram is now a booming platform for brands, with over 500 million daily active users and the news that its rolling out its shopping feature to eight new countries. The platform claims that 200 million accounts visit a business profile on Instagram every day.

For brand accounts with a lot of visuals to share, Instagram can be a place to reach a wide-ranging audience. But how often do brands post on Instagram? Looking at NewsWhip Analytics, there is significant variance in the posting frequency of leading brand accounts.

Some have a heavy Instagram schedule, posting multiple times, while others appear to be content to keep things pretty light on content. In this analysis, we take a closer look at the posting schedules of three different categories of brands. Looking at their monthly output over the course of a year, it’s possible to get a sense of how approaches can differ amongst competing brands, as well as market sectors. 

How often do top food brands post on Instagram? 

Taking food and drink brands first, we looked at the number of posts from the official Instagram accounts of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods and Dunkin’ Donuts from January 2017 to February 2018.

Food and drink brands
The post count for some of these brands is surprisingly low. The main Coca-Cola account posts rarely, sometimes just once a month, despite having a large audience. McDonald’s, while posting slightly more frequently, only posted 10 times or more in five out of twelve months.

Of the five pages, Whole Foods is the most prolific, with a total of 449 posts in a year. Interestingly, the page’s output dipped during Spring and Summer, before building up presence again from October onwards.

whole foods instagram strategy

However, it’s Starbucks that has the most engagement (and with over 16.5 million followers, by far the largest audience). The coffee chain’s 243 posts in the year resulted in 57.8 million interactions (likes and comments), with an average interaction rate of 238,000 per post.

How often do top retail brands post on Instagram? 

Here’s how Topshop, Zara, River Island, H&M and Forever 21 posted to their main official Instagram accounts over the course of a year, from February 2017 to February 2018:

fashion instagram analytics
Here, there’s a huge volume of posting every month from each of the pages. Forever 21 posted the most out of this group of brands, with 1,454 posts, which attracted 119.5 million engagements, the highest of the five accounts analysed. Just over one third (329) were videos.
forever21 instagram strategy
H&M was the most consistent account in terms of posts, posting a maximum of 127 times in July 2017, and a minimum of 109 in February. However, the other four pages all posted fewer videos and images over the same period. Zara, with 38 million interactions on its posts for the year, posted 485 times, or an average of 40 times each month.

Overall, these retail brands were easily the most active on Instagram during the time period surveyed, with consistently high post counts. 

How often do top digital brands post on Instagram? 

Digital brands thrive on connecting with audiences already plugged-in online. Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Spotify, and Netflix all have significant followings on Instagram, but how much does each brand post on the platform?

Digital brands on Instagram
Like the retail analysis, there’s a lot of variation in posting frequency here, although the total number of posts is lower. Airbnb is by far the most prolific page, with 681 posts over the 12 months.
Taking a closer look at Airbnb, we see that the number of monthly posts (images and videos) declined slightly over the course of a year, but still managed to achieve over 14.6 million interactions.

airbnb instagram strategy
Netflix’s main page has the most engagements (15.9 million) and followers (7.1 million) of the five accounts surveyed, but also posted the second least frequently. The Netflix account posted just 148 times in a year, resulting in an average engagement rate per post of well over 100,000.

Meanwhile, Spotify and Uber are the reverse mirror image of each other. Amazon’s posting activity declines significantly as the year goes on, from 54 posts in May to just 4 in January, while Spotify ramps up output from September onwards, after also posting less for a few months previously. Overall, these brands post fairly regularly, but seem to be comfortable making significant adjustments to their output when needed. 

Why might brands post less, or more? 

There are different reasons why posting frequency differs so dramatically across these brands’ pages. Different marketing and social media strategies and goals will always provide some variance in consistency.

However, one of the most likely reasons is that Instagram Stories could be providing more and more of an avenue for engagement and reach. Last August, usage of the format surpassed that of Snapchat, and has only been growing since.

Instagram Story from Airbnb

A condensed Instagram Story from Airbnb, with an option to directly explore accommodations

In a case study for Instagram, Airbnb’s marketing team shared some of the details of their experiments with the Stories format. Referring to a campaign created specifically for Instagram Stories, Global Head of Social Marketing and Content, Eric Toda, outlined the returns the brand experienced: “We saw a double-digit point increase in ad recall from our experiences on Airbnb campaign that further justifies our investment in ads in Stories as they have made a measurable impact for us.”

Another reason may lie with the strategy of employing multiple accounts to target different audiences. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Instagram does not have an easy ‘repost’ feature (although apps are available for this purpose).

This means that accounts are more siloed in their content. For instance, global brands such as Coca-Cola have multiple accounts for different country and language markets, all of which could be running different marketing campaigns.
Coca-Cola Argentina Instagram

A post from Coca-Cola Argentina ties into the ever-popular soccer season

Meanwhile, accounts posting more may prefer to rely on the platform as a key pillar of their social media marketing strategy. For instance, Starbucks leans heavily into encouraging user-generated content on Instagram, and has seen much success in seeding hashtags in users’ image captions.

It’s also a question of demographics and audience targeting. From this data, it appears clear that the retail brands surveyed all see value in posting heavily to Instagram, where much of their target audience is presumably spending a lot of time.

To get deep insight into the content and strategies winning attention on Instagram today, try NewsWhip Analytics today.

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