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.
Before we updated this article in February 2018 and checked numbers the last time, Instagram was the 4th biggest. This underlines how important Instagram got in the past.
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 fourth quarter of 2017.
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 fourth quarter of 2017 (October 1 - December 31)
The analyzed accounts are varying from accounts with 3.6 Million (+1.5 mio compared to our analysis one year ago, Chapeau! Land Rover) up to Burberry with 10.8 Million (+2.5 mio compared to our analysis one year ago) 8.3 million 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 every brand posted on average 14 posts (including video, image and carousel posts) per week. That equals about 2 posts per day.
Interestingly, we can spot the first major difference in posting strategies here. The line of Primark is way above the average of the other brands.
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.
The posted amount of videos varies between 5% (Burberry) and 31% (Stella McCartney), with the strong outlier BBC, which is all about video news (85% video posts). Here, again, we can note different strategies and different behaviour in how the brands post. Scrolling through Stella McCartney’s Instagram timeline you can see that videos 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, videos 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 videos are now performing well for you, it might make sense to produce three high quality image in the time of one video.
This underlines the prevalence of images on Instagram, but not all brands see Instagram solely as an image platform.
85% of BBC news posts are 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:
A post shared by BBC News (@bbcnews) on
Of their 217 posts (roughly half as many as one year ago), BBC’s made use of 184 video posts, a share of 84.79%. 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 489 overall posts were 90.18% images (411), and only 8.99% videos (44)
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!
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, Aston Martin, had the most successful post in terms of amount of likes. Aston Martin’s post that shows the new Vantage, garnered over 217,000 Instagram users to like the picture.
A post shared by Aston Martin (@astonmartinlagonda) on
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, Rolls-Royce or Jaguar (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. 8 out of 10 of the top commented posts are posted from Primark. Their most successful post received 6,632 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 shoe was certainly more engaging than other products in their portfolio and get somebody to tag a friend or similar.
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.
To be precise, that means in our specific case 5 posts out of 1,248 posted in the analyzed time contained a filter.
We can only guess why 7 out of the 10 profiles didn’t use any filters at all. But one reason could be that all pictures that are used on Facebook timelines 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. Instagram stories opens new doors, again!
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.
Interesting to see here is that four car brands Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Jaguar all had a follower growth of over 3%, which was the strongest in our analysis. 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. Back then all of them grew with over 20%. That’s incredible and equally a sign that top dogs slowly reach a limit where they don’t reach new people anymore.
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!
You feel that your instagram strategy is not 100% set yet? My colleague Julian published a great post on how to approach Instagram Analytics in the best possible way - including a free report!
Surprised by the results or simply want to know more about the most liked UK brands? Just leave us a comment or tweet us.