September 23, 2013

I read an interesting article last month that validated some things that I had already noticed. The article discusses how the band Paramore shared the same photo on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and how different the engagement was on those sites. I've often noticed the same effect when I share my photos, but after reading this article, I wanted to spend a little more time researching this phenomenon.

In the article I read, Paramore has "only" 360,000 followers on Instagram, compared with their 3.2 million Facebook fans and 3.35 million Twitter followers. And yet, the same photo shared to all three sites produced these results:

  • Instagram: 52,237 likes and 315 comments
  • Facebook: 9405 likes
  • Twitter: 433 retweets and 289 favorites

So, with only about 10% of the fan base on Instagram, Paramore's photo received over 500% more engagement than Facebook!

How much more evidence do you need that Instagram works?!

But, as I said, I wanted to test this out for myself. Over the last month, I have, on multiple occasions, posted the same Instagram photo to Facebook or Twitter or Google+.

In some cases, I posted the photos at the same time - to verify that time of day wasn't the issue. Other times, I posted the photos at different times of the day, during the peak performance time for each respective site - in order to verify that each platform was provided ideal reach.

And I have the least number of fans on Instagram. I currently have about 600 followers on Instagram. However, I have almost 800 fans on Facebook and over 2400 followers on Twitter.

In every instance, the photo I shared to Instagram got more likes and exposure than the photos shared to another site.

I chose these two images to demonstrate this effect, even though they are both relatively low engagements, because they were specifically related to Jenn's Trends. These were both posted one week ago. As you can see, I received nearly 3 times the likes on Instagram. And, as the time goes on, the Instagram post will continue to get more likes and comments, but the Facebook post will not. At this point, the Facebook post has reached its shelf-life. Even if people visit my Facebook page directly, chances are they won't scroll down far enough to see this post again. But I can promise you that people visiting my Instagram profile in the future will see this post in my feed.

Just for more stats, here are some other differences in photos that I've shared to multiple sites. Some of these go back further than the one month "study" I conducted, but they still represent similar trends.

  • Instagram - 40 likes; Facebook - 5 likes
  • Instagram - 23 likes; Facebook - 4 likes; Twitter - 0 retweets or favorites
  • Instagram - 19 likes; Twitter - 1 favorite
  • Instagram - 34 likes; Google+ - 4 +1's
  • Instagram - 70 likes and 14 comments; Facebook - 9 likes and 1 comment
  • Instagram - 42 likes and 4 comments; Facebook - 20 likes and 14 comments
  • Instagram - 38 likes and 9 comments; Facebook - 15 likes and 14 comments; Twitter - 2 favorites and 1 retweet
  • Instagram - 34 likes and 20 comments; Facebook - 6 likes and 2 comments

Even in talking with other people who use Instagram for either personal or business use, they see the same results! Instagram posts get more engagement than Facebook. Instagram posts get more exposure than Twitter posts.

I will admit that some of my photos do generate more comments and conversation on Facebook. But overall, my photos get more exposure on Instagram than on any other site.

Why, you ask? One reason is that there is no Edgerank on Instagram (for now at least...). That means that your posts don't get "lost" or "hidden" from your followers. Another reason is that your archive feed on your profile is easy to navigate. It's simply small images to peruse, unlike Facebook which has content, links, photos, etc. to scroll through. Another reason, is that the posts are all visual in your feed - there's no need to click on a link to open a photo or view a video, like on Twitter.

Also, I find that people are more active on Instagram. While this isn't always the case, many people are more likely to "like" a post on Instagram than they are to like the same photo on another site. I haven't quite worked out the psychology behind this, but even I'm guilty of the same behavior.

There's also the ability to get more Instagram exposure through hashtags which put your posts in front of more people, beyond just your followers. And by using the Following tab in the News page, people can find your posts that their friends have liked. And, if you're lucky enough to get your photo onto the Explore (or Popular) page, your exposure will go up dramatically from there as well.

Instagram encourages more exposure, engagement, and interaction than other social media sites. So it's really no wonder that Instagram exposure is higher than other sites.

Do you agree? Have you noticed the same trends with your photos? Or have you noticed a different trend? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Great insight Jenn!

    My next question is where is the stu dy that says IG engagement relates to business. Is there a way to filter users? I am not on IG but if the majority of my followers were teens, that isn’t the exposure i’d want. Right?

    1. Julia, there are a lot more than just teens using IG. I have over 600 followers and maybe 5 of them are under the age of 25.
      Just like any other site, it’s important to know your demographic and who is following you on IG. But I promise you that there are people from your ideal target audience using IG. There’s no real way to filter users but by cross-promoting to your other sites and letting people know you’re on IG, you can help direct the right traffic. Also, by using appropriate hashtags and engaging with similar users/businesses, you’ll gain followers with an interest in your business.
      You do bring up an interesting question about IG demographics for business though and I will look into that for a future post!

        1. lol Julia! You are a good source of ideas! ๐Ÿ˜‰
          I promise it’s not very complicated to figure out Instagram. It’s easier than a lot of other platforms out there!

  2. Thank you for mentioning my article. I hope your audience liked it as well. I really liked that you added to it. Your own research findings were really interesting. It’s amazing how much power and traction Instagram has!

    1. Thanks Shannon! I really enjoyed your article and the amazing example you provided. Thank you for taking the time to put that together.
      And, yes, IG really has so much power and traction now! I love it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Interesting indeed Jenn, I believe the edgerank has a lot to do with it too. I use it mostly for personal (fun) but wonder how I can incorporate it more for my blog or other retail sites? I will have to get my thinking cap on for that one. I don’t follow as many there but will start to search for more folks via the hashtags. Thanks for sharing Jenn.

    1. Yes, Lisa, I’m sure Edgerank is a contributing factor to the differences since most of our audience doesn’t see most of our posts.
      If you want to start using IG for your blog/business, it’s a really easy transition to start incorporating images with personal posts. Try mixing in photos of projects or blogs that you’re working on. If you go to networking events or client meetings snap photos and explain why you’re there in your captions. Find ways to document what you do for “work” and incorporate those into your IG posts.

  4. Hi Jenn,

    I’m writing an article about Instagram for my own website, and came across this article. Could I reference your research and link back to your work?

    Looking forward to hearing back from you.

    1. Yes, of course. As long as proper attribution and a link to my original article or link are provided, I happy to be a part of your work.

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