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Best Practice Instagram Analytics

The 10 Most-liked UK Brands on Instagram

by Nils Herrmann on August 15, 2018

The mobile photo-sharing app, Instagram, has over 17.2 million registered users in the United Kingdom, which makes it the 2nd most used social network in the UK. Another indicator how important Instagram got in the recent years. 

This development was reason enough to dive deeper into the top UK brands on Instagram, again.

This article provides information on the Instagram campaigns of these companies and also looks into different aspects that determine the success or failure of a brand’s Instagram strategy. In addition, it also reveals more about the strategies and tactics that these companies use to engage with their audience. Given the fact that all these brands have enormous budgets for marketing on Instagram all of us can learn from these top dogs.

All brands we have chosen are not picked out of the blue - we were inspired by a list by Business Review Europe that collected the ten most liked brands in the UK: Burberry, Primark, Alexander McQueen, Jaguar, Stella McCartney, BBC News, Aston Martin, Bentley Motors, Rolls-Royce, and Land Rover. The analyzed period was the first half of 2018. 

Looking at the follower growth and the favoured post type used by these brands is necessary to identify how these brands engage their audience with their content to generate a significant amount of comments and even more likes.

Note: The analyzed period was the first half of 2018 (January 1 - June 30)

The analyzed accounts are varying from accounts with 5 Million (+1.1 mio compared to our analysis one year ago, Chapeau! Stella McCartney) up to Burberry with 11.7 Million (+2.57 mio compared to our analysis one year ago) followers. It also includes different industry sectors such as the fashion industry, a broadcasting company and the automobile sector.

Let’s start with a glimpse of the posts made by the ten most liked UK brands on Instagram.

Instagram remains an image platform 

Taking a look at the average amount of posts for the most liked brands in the UK, we can see that all brands posted in total 3670 posts (including video, image and carousel posts) in the first half of the year 2018.

Interestingly, we already see that all brands are really active on the platform. All lines show that the brands post constantly on Instagram.

1. Posts UK Brand IG

Learning Number One: Always look into the posting strategies of the different players within your industry. You can learn a lot about your competition and question your own strategy. This process makes your Instagram strategy significantly better on the long run.

The predominant post type on Instagram *drum roll* is images, which shouldn’t come off as a surprise since Instagram started as a platform for photos. Which is the predominant type of post type among all brands, except BBC News which have a focus on video content.

2. Post Distribution UK Brand IG

The posted amount of videos varies between 16 videos (Rolly Royce) and 118 videos (Stella McCartney), with the strong outlier BBC, which is all about video news (386 video posts). Here, again, we can note different strategies and different behaviour in how the brands post.

Taking the amount of Instagram Carousel into account it can be seen that 9 out of 10 brands use this feature. Only Bentley Motors is not using this post type. Stella McCartney is the brand that makes the most use of Instagram Carousels, followed by BBC News and Burberry. 

Scrolling through Stella McCartney’s Instagram timeline you can see that Carousel type seem to perform very well for them. Normally, it can be said that images receive a higher amount of interactions on Instagram but in this specific case, carousel is the  make sense for the brand Stella McCartney.

Learning Number Two: Constantly check how many interactions you receive on which post type. Knowing this you can set priorities in your teams. If Instagram Carousel are performing well for you, it might make sense to focus on this post type instead of spending time creating one video. On this note, Instagram stories is also a highly interesting new feature. 

BBC news are the king of videos

The exception in our case is the BBC. The British broadcaster follows another agenda to engage their audience. They prefer to use video content to image content - a strategy that can be beneficial for engaging viewers for a longer period of time with the posted content. Their video posts vary from scientific discoveries to current affairs and wildlife nature shoots, like this one:


Of their 611 posts, BBC’s made use of 386 video posts, a share of 63.48%. This certainly is an interesting figure compared to the amount of videos posted by the others brands which are mainly focusing on images. We can only estimate the dedication the BBC puts into Instagram, especially when estimating the time editing one video takes.

For example, Primark - the company with the most posts in total - concentrates mainly on photos. Of their 956 overall posts were 93.34% images (884), only 5.17% videos (49) and 14 Carousels (that is a share of 1.47%)

But Primark didn’t solely focus on providing a lot of imagery content to their audience, they also know how to engage their audience when you look at the amount of likes they received!

UK Brands on Social Media

What can we learn from Primark

What we can learn from Primark is that the high-street fashion retailer follows a specific strategy that seems to be more engaging and in particular more attractive to its audience. Olly Rzysko - Head of Digital at Primark - told Digiday back in June 2016 about the secret behind their success and it still seem to work really well:

We found that our content has done best when it looks like a friend posted it. It’s not about being staged. We’re essentially a guest on their feed, so we need to fit in.

Providing a personal touch to their content seems to be the key secret to the chain’s Instagram success.

But Primark is not the only well-performing brand on Instagram. Looking at the figures on a more detailed level, we can see that the British car manufacturer, Stella McCartney, had the most successful post in terms of amount of likes.Stella McCartneys post shows the newlyweds  Meghan and Harry and, garnered over 716,000 Instagram users to like the picture.


The longing for luxury goods seems to attract a lot of people. This phenomenon can also be seen with the other luxurious brands such as Burberry,  Bentley Motors or Rolls-Royce (second most liked post in the analyzed period).

Encourage your audience

Engaging your audience is not only important in terms of likes, but also important in terms of comments. Creating interactions on an Instagram account is the key to boosting the success of your content and transforming interested people to potential buyers and after that potentially also to brand ambassadors.

This category is also dominated by Primark. 7 out of 10 of the top commented posts are posted from Primark. Their most successful post received 10,420 comments.

To conclude, a straightforward strategy that directly speaks to your target group can lead to a highly successful Instagram performance. Therefore, tailoring your content to a specific group that it directly speaks to is more effective than simply showing a video or a picture of your product.

Another learning: Try to define an “engaging” post for your brand. Primark’s Harry Potter post shows how you can encourage users to be active in the comment section.

Instagram Filters are outdated

Frankly, filters are certainly not state of the art anymore, since nearly all brands do not make use of them at all and have switched to a non-filter strategy. Similar tendencies were already revealed in a previous quintly Instagram study.

0 out of the 2,278 images that were analysed used a filter. We can only guess why zero out of the 10 profiles didn’t use any filters at all. But one reason could be that all pictures are already edited and adjusted to Instagram before they get published.

Through this, the editing of a picture with a filter becomes unnecessary. That also means that higher production costs are involved in the process of producing pictures on Instagram.

Gone are the days of the snapshots, welcome to the days of high-end productions, at least on the timeline.

UK Car manufacturers grow fastest

To conclude our analysis, let’s take a look at the follower growth of the accounts. To make this easier and more clear for you to learn more about, we have visualized them for you.

3. Follower Growth UK Brand IG

Interesting to see here is that four car brands Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Land Rover all had a follower growth of over at least 2.6%. That is remarkable and shows that even big brands still have the potential to attract more followers. One year ago, where we run the same analysis these for profiles already had the strongest growth. 

What’s also interesting in this relation is that Burberry had the second lowest follower growth in percentage but the highest growth in absolute follower numbers.

What does that mean for my Instagram strategy?

Providing attractive content to your community is as important as constantly posting outstanding content - your followers need to feel the urge to double-tap your image or even tag friends.

This strategy can be taken on in various ways: Be it by triggering a desire for luxury goods (Burberry, Jaguar), showing a combination of affordable products in a scenario that looks like if a friend posted it (Primark), or simply informing your audience (BBC news).

There are many different approaches to secure a successful Instagram campaign. We tried to outline some of them for you, so that you can test them out and maybe apply them to your own strategy. Use this is as inspiration!

UK Brands on Social Media

Surprised by the results or simply want to know more about the most liked UK brands? Just leave us a comment or tweet us.

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Best Practice Instagram Analytics

Nils Herrmann

Nils is part of the quintly communication team. He is a committed writer with a keen interest in new technologies and social media strategies.

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