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Upward Trend: Analyzing Instagram’s Continued Growth

Instagram usage continues to trend up. So much so that one major research firm doesn’t see the social network’s growth stagnating any time soon.

eMarketer conducted its first ever worldwide forecast of Instagram and projects the platform will reach more than 1 billion users by 2021. Close to 600 million users will access the popular social app at least once a month by the end of 2017.

Of those more than half billion accounts using Instagram by the end of this year, eMarketer estimates that roughly 90 million of them will be American. Though the US is Instagram’s single largest market, the majority of the platform’s users reside outside of the country.

Instagram reported a base of 800 million monthly users at the end of September 2017. Though bullish overall on Instagram’s future growth, eMarketer’s relatively conservative usage figures took into consideration duplicate accounts, business profiles and fake users.

How does Instagram keep growing?

Amidst a competitive market for people’s attention, Instagram has bolstered its growth through the development and implementation of new features. Originally an app for users to share only photos and pictures, Instagram has expanded greatly over the course of its seven-year existence.

In addition to its media feed, live video, augmented reality lenses, stickers and stories have become keystone features of Instagram. To see how much they’ve become integral parts of the user experience, look no further than a December 2017 survey by RBC Capital on social media usage.

Close to 3,000 American users ages 13 and up were surveyed about their interactions with Instagram stories, a feature co-opted from Snapchat that was added in late 2016. An overwhelming majority were discovered to use stories either daily (24 percent), weekly (15 percent) or several times per month (12 percent).

Instagram also rolled out a few new functions that enhance their existing features. Within the first few weeks of December, the social company launched highlights and archives for stories, which allow users to repurpose to their profiles the content that previously expired after 24 hours.

Instagram also recently made it possible to follow hashtags. Users are now served the best and most relevant content from hashtags they follow on their main feed.

Digiday offered insights on how the capability of following hashtags could improve discoverability for brands:

“With the new ability to follow hashtags, marketers can capitalize on trending conversations. For instance, on Dec. 15, Target used #StarWars in a post to appear next to other posts that reference the opening of “The Last Jedi” movie. Now, if a user follows #StarWars, they might see Target’s post in his or her feed.”

Instagram has also enjoyed growth due to engaging with and reaching emerging markets. Countries like Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia all crack the top 25 of social network users for Instagram according to eMarketer research.

“We see no signs of this slowing down in the near future, and the company’s strategic push toward international markets – in particular Southeast Asia – will continue to fuel growth in the years to come,” said Cindy Liu, a forecasting analyst for eMarketer.

The key takeaway for marketers

The data from this latest forecast solidifies Instagram’s relevance as a marketing vehicle for brands. With user growth and active engagement continuing to boom, Instagram remains a solid channel for businesses to invest significant resources.

Are you trying to expand awareness of your business? Instagram might be the right channel for you to reach your target customer. Contact us to find out how you can leverage it today.

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