Social Media Research Study: Instagram

How professional accounts use Instagram

We have analyzed 140,244 professional Instagram accounts, 1,651,565 posts and 5,590,426 stories.

Metricool’s annual Instagram research study guides agencies, marketers, and social media managers to see and draw conclusions based on Instagram analytics on how business and creator accounts manage Instagram. The study analyzes business and creator accounts of different sizes to make it easier to compare and analyze if your Instagram strategy follows the trend.

How to Use the Instagram Research Study

This analysis brings together all the investigated accounts, without distinction by sector, to find general Instagram trends.

In addition to relying on this data, it is always advisable to analyze your own competitors or the accounts you want to resemble so you can draw specific conclusions for your Instagram strategy.

We anticipate the big questions that the study solves.

What post format has the most reach on Instagram?

The most far-reaching format is single image feed posts, ahead of carousels, videos, and IGTVs. The carousel is the format that generates the most interactions due to its typology. The same user will see the images that make up the carousel more times and, therefore, the possibilities of interaction are greater. Therefore depending on the strategy you want to apply and your goals, you can opt for: → Image: This format will help you reach more people. → Carousel: It helps you encourage more interaction with your community, people who already follow your account.

Is it better to publish stories or posts?

Feed posts get, on average, five times more reach than stories. In bigger accounts with more followers, the feed posts have up to six times more reach. Therefore, we can affirm that feed posts have better performance than stories in terms of reach, but we cannot forget that stories have an expiration date and posts don’t.

Which Instagram accounts have the most reach: the profiles with the fewest followers or the ones with many?

The reach of accounts with followers between 0 and 500 followers is 85%. This means that they impact most of their followers. This contrasts with accounts with followers between 50K and 45M, where the reach is down to 22% in relation to their audience. The accounts with more reach are the ones with fewer followers. In other words, the greater the number of followers on Instagram, the more difficult it is to reach all of them.

How many posts share on Instagram?

There is a clear trend: accounts with a larger community post more frequently than smaller accounts either in the feed and stories. The more posts, the more followers.

What is the best time to post on Instagram?

Without a doubt, the best time is 8 PM. The days are pretty even, but there is a slight improvement on Thursdays and Mondays. According to the data, the best days and times to post would be Thursday and Monday at 8 PM. Now, we invite you to see the complete study and draw your own conclusions.

The sample: What data have we analyzed for this Instagram research study?

This study has used 140,244 professional Instagram accounts (business and creator accounts), 1,651,565 posts, and 5,590,426 stories for the analysis. The data collection was carried out during June 2021. The data included in the study refer to a period of 30 days.

The analyzed Instagram accounts have been classified based on the number of followers. The objective is to analyze the results with accounts comparable to each other and see how the data evolves as the accounts grow in the number of followers. As a result, there are five different groups based on the size of their audience:

  • 0-500 followers
  • 500- 2K followers
  • 2K- 10K followers
  • 10K-50K followers
  • 50K-45M followers

Small accounts vs. Large accounts

In the study, we talk about small and large accounts. When we refer to small accounts, we speak of any group smaller than the next and vice versa. A small account does not have to be the group of 0-500 followers, but it would also be the group of 10K to 50K if you compare it with the next one from 50K to 45M.

Read carefully the Instagram study based on real data and apply it to your social strategy.

Posting frequency: Feed posts versus stories

Professional Instagram accounts of all sizes publish more stories than posts in the Feed. The percentage of stories published per post varies depending on the size of the account since we observe that the larger the account, the more posts, and stories.

The posting frequency of posts in the feed according to the account size is:

  • 0-500 followers: Twice a week
  • 500- 2K followers: 3 times a week
  • 2K- 10K followers: 4 times a week
  • 10K-50K followers: 6 times a week
  • 50K-45M followers: Twice a day

The posting frequency of stories according to the size of the account is:

  • 0-500 followers: 5 times a week
  • 500- 2K followers: 9 times a week
  • 2K- 10K followers: 2 times a day
  • 10K-50K followers: 4 times a day
  • 50K-45M followers: 6 times a day

Posting frequency by account size

→ Small accounts post 5 times less in the feed and up to 10 times less in stories. ←

The reach of posts: What accounts and posts have more reach?

We have analyzed the reach of each post and story as a percentage of the number of followers. That is, if we analyze a post that has reached 500 people in an account with 1,000 followers, we will say that the post reached 50% of its audience.

We have observed that accounts with 0 to 500 followers can reach almost 85% of their community with posts, and this reach decreases proportionally as the number of followers increases.

The reach of posts is greater in accounts with fewer followers on Instagram since they reach almost 85% of their audience.

Another fact to consider about the reach of Instagram is that the stories obtain on average 5 times less reach than the posts in the feed.In bigger accounts with more followers, the reach is 6 times less than the posts. The fact that stories expire after 24 hours can partially explain this.

To consider

We can draw valuable conclusions when it comes to making collaborations with influencers. It is convenient to sign more agreements with small accounts than with large accounts. The reach will be more significant and the investment will be less.

Types of Instagram posts: Which ones have the most significant reach?

On average, for every 10 posts published, 7 are unique images, 2 are carousels, and one is a video. Occasionally, some IGTV videos are also published, over 1-minute long videos. 74% of the posts of the small accounts are unique images, while in the large accounts, these types of images are reduced to 58%. Large accounts post more videos and IGTV.

Average reach by post type

The posts that contain a single image have a greater reach than the rest of the publications. The reach of posts with only one image is twice that of posts with video. It will only be interesting to publish video-type posts when sending a specific message to the user.

Save Time

If we analyze it from the point of view of time and resources used, the fact that images are the format with the most reach reduces the time used. Since editing a video is usually greater than editing a single image.

These are the percentages of reach in relation to the main format, the image, where the image is 100%. Carousel: 86, 83%  Video: 55,02% IGTV: 28.18%


Reach and interactions are correlated. That is, the data tends to behave similarly, the posts with greater reach also have more interactions. But as you can see in the graph, carousels are an exception. Carousels are composed of multiple images that require greater participation from the audience to swipe the images and, therefore, the possibilities of interaction are greater despite the fact that the scope of this format is smaller.

Depending on your objective, which format is better?

If you want to reach more people, don’t waste your time creating carousels, but if your goal is to boost the engagement, it may be justified to use the extra time it takes to create a carousel.

Best Instagram Hours: What is the best time to post on Instagram?

The best hours to post on Instagram depend on when followers are online. The metric used for the study is the same that Instagram uses to show you your best time to post in your personalized statistics. To check if there is a better global time, we have analyzed the data of 140,244 accounts, and the result is that the best hour to post is around 8 PM.

Please, note that on Sunday everything happens with a bit of delay, about one hour later. However, 8 pm is still the best hour to share your content, even on Sundays.

What is the best day to post on Instagram 

The behavior of each day of the week is very similar, but we noted that Thursdays and Mondays can be considered the best days. And now that you already have real data on how brands and creators use Instagram, it’s time to make decisions. What conclusions or tips will you apply to your strategy? Tell us…

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Don’t forget to mention @metricool on Instagram and on Twitter.

Isabel Romero Isabel Romero , 04 October 2021

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