How Facebook and Instagram images resonate for brands

September 25, 2019

Written by Benedict Nicholson

Which brands had the most success with their Facebook and Instagram images? We looked at the data to find out. 

We’ve written before, and often at length, about the importance of native video on Facebook, but photos are an underrated part of the Facebook experience. Anecdotally, we tend to think of images as more of a focus of Instagram, but our research shows that photos often get more total engagement on the Facebook platform than any other content type. 

Given this, we wanted to look at both Facebook and Instagram to see how brands make use of the platforms with their photo strategies, and whether it is the same brands that are successful.

Let’s begin with Facebook. 

Facebook images for brands in 2019

We went back to the start of Q3 of this year to look at the brands that have had the most success with photos on Facebook. 

The top posts in the photo format actually came from a relatively narrow group of brands. 

A table with the top ten Facebook photos posted by brands in Q3 2019, ordered by engagement

Of the top ten posts, Michael Kors appeared six times, and Etihad Airways appeared thrice, with only Toyota breaking the duopoly. 

Michael Kors used the platform, at least amongst its top posts, almost exclusively to announce its new products when they launched, with a variety of bags performing particularly well in terms of impact on Facebook. Their most engaged post, announcing the launch of the Whitney shoulder bag, received almost 2 million engagements, putting it up there with some of the most engaged images on the platform as a whole. This was similar to Toyota’s use of the platform, who also announced a new concept car, a compact car named i-Ride, whose corresponding Facebook post was the only other one to drive more than a million engagements. 

Etihad took a different approach with their images, encouraging their audience to interact with their posts by asking for them to comment where they want to travel next. They also highlighted a number of the cities they travel to, including Paris. 

In terms of the Pages that got the most engagements overall, it was Etihad Airways that came out on top, with more than 13 million engagements for the quarter so far. 

Histogram of the top ten brands with engagement to photos on Facebook in Q3 2019

Unsurprisingly, Michael Kors came in second, and both were well ahead of third-placed Mercedes Benz, which each of the top two having at least 2.5x the engagement to their photos as any other brand. 

Cars did feature as a second string, with Toyota and Mercedes both appearing in the top ten. Fashion was also a key part of the top Pages, even beyond Michael Kors, with Boohoo, Pretty Little Things, and Missguided all featuring in the top ten. 

So that’s Facebook, but were things different on Instagram? 

Instagram images from brands in 2019

We went back two months to look at the most engaged Instagram images in our platform, to see if there are any themes or trends to pick out from among the top brands.

When it comes to Instagram images, it’s a bit of a different beast to what we saw with Facebook. The platform is literally built for image sharing, so it comes as no surprise that even some of the most video-focused brands have huge amounts of success there with their images. 

Table of the top ten most engaged Instagram images from brands in Q3 2019

Disney and Netflix dominated the top ten most engaged Instagram images. This comes in two quite distinct forms, with either announcements of new shows such as Lady and the Tramp for Disney, or behind the scenes content that we saw from Netflix. Stranger Things was particularly resonant for Netflix in this regard, with two of the top posts featuring either photos or interviews from the show that added an extra glimpse into the creation of the show. 

You could argue, however, that some of these brands cross the line into publishers, with even Apple potentially falling into that category now, so we also looked at more traditional retail brands and how they performed.

Table showing the top Instagram images from non-media brands in Q3 2019

Fashion and beauty were much more dominant with this approach, with Kylie’s cosmetics, Victoria’s Secret, and Adidas sharing the spoils among the top three. 

Some of these came from giveaways, and these drive a lot of comments, but often it is not the case, and it is likes alone that drive the engagement. 

Though Instagram often hugely outperforms Facebook in terms of the average engagement that posts from brands get, it seems at the very top level there is not a huge amount of difference between the two platforms, with ranges of roughly half a million to almost two million for both. 

The type of content that was successful was different on each platform, with Instagram a much more naturally visual medium, and well suited to behind the scenes content from films and TV shows. One constant across both platforms was fashion, with some of the most successful brands on each coming from that industry, though there was no crossover in which specific brands were successful. 

If you’d like to track which brands do well with their Instagram images yourself, take a look at NewsWhip Spike.

Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring. Email Benedict via

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