Table of contents

Introduction to Instagram Marketing Trends 2019

Remember October 6, 2010?

Probably not.

And yet, this was the momentous day when the world saw the birth of Instagram. A small app, it got over 1 million users in just under 2 months, and is now an integral part of the social media landscape. In fact, when we think about social now, it’s impossible to imagine Instagram not being a part of it.

Instagram marketing is no longer something to consider − it’s just something to do. It comes with the job now. Those who understand this are no longer asking themselves WHY they should do it, but rather HOW they should do it correctly in order to get the results they want.

That said, Instagram IS still a relatively new way of marketing, so lots of marketers are still “figuring it out”. One of the most convincing pieces of evidence is the fact that marketers are eagerly collaborating with influencers, testing ads, and trying the new features Instagram is rolling out − and yet, the majority still struggle to see high-enough ROIs. Becoming creative when developing new tactics, finding what works, and having a thorough understanding of the state of Instagram marketing − those will remain the three main challenges in 2019.

In our annual Instagram Marketing 2019 Trends & Benchmarks Report, surveyed 4,313 small businesses and social media managers to provide a detailed insight into Instagram marketing trends. We asked the participants to share their thoughts on a variety of topics: everything from how they use hashtags, to how often they post, to how big their Instagram budget is.

Read on for all the findings and consider how your own business stacks up against your peers’!

The Landscape of Instagram Marketing

Today, Instagram’s meteoric growth continues, imposing a significant threat to Snapchat, Facebook, and other social platforms.

In June 2018, Instagram announced that it had reached 1 billion monthly active users, having passed the 800 million mark in September 2017.

In Q1 2018, Snapchat1 grew just 2.1%, from 187 to 191 million daily users, while Facebook2 saw a 3.14% growth rate in terms of their monthly count. In the meantime, Instagram grows about 5% per quarter3. Some other quick Instagram business stats4:

  • 25 Million+

    business profiles worldwide

  • 2 Million+

    advertisers worldwide

  • 1/3

    of the most viewed Stories are from businesses

  • 200 Million+

    Instagrammers visit at least one Business Profile daily

  • 80%

    of users follow a business on Instagram

  • 60%

    of users discover new products on Instagram

Team Responsibility & Organization

Instagram management is a versatile job. From sourcing content, to researching hashtags, to collaborating with influencers, to monitoring KPIs and preparing reports on social campaigns, a typical day of a social media manager can look hectic.

As a social media manager, which one of your daily activities takes up most of your day?

Team size: 1-3

While 54% report that they manage social media accounts alone, 31% say that they share this responsibility with 1-2 other people. Meanwhile, 11% and 1.5% respondents have a social team of 3-10 and 10-20 respectively, while 2.5% say their team size is 20+.

Number of accounts: 2-5

52% of social media managers manage from 2 to 5 accounts on a daily basis, while 37% are responsible for one account only (lucky them!).

Instagram budget: $100-1,000

38% of IG marketers operate with the generous budget of $0, while 28% report to be working with a small $100 monthly budget. The other 66% have the luxury of spending anywhere from $100 to $1,000+ per month on ads, boosted posts, and influencer collabs.

Instagram Marketing Goals

According to the survey, the majority of Instagram marketers focus on increasing brand awareness for their businesses, while e-commerce goals, such as driving traffic and sales, come after.

Why is your business on Instagram?

Did you know?

Instagram launched shoppable posts in 2018, both in the feed and Stories, which allow brands to tag their products and let users buy them directly from the app. However, 80.59% Instagram marketers admitted that they do not actively use the shoppability feature.

From those 19.41% who do use shoppable posts, 76.78% admitted that they haven’t noticed a sales increase — or at least, not just yet.

Shoppability, however, remains a trending goal, as, still, 51.32% of Instagram marketers plan to use more shoppable posts in 2019.

When asked to choose one, and only one Instagram metric to focus on, 44% of Instagram marketers report that it is engagement (likes & comments) that they prioritize.

It makes sense.
When a post receives high engagement, the Instagram algorithm deems it to be high-value for users and pushes it up the feed for more eyes to see.

Time shows, again and again, that high-quality Instagram content should be a priority!

What’s your No. 1 Instagram KPI?

Why track your engagement rate:

Spikes of engagement help to determine the type of content that resonates with your followers most.

Comparing engagement rates can also help you identify your best time to post on Instagram.

Higher engagement across all posts increases the visibility of your whole Instagram account.

Instagram Marketing Strategy

Having a documented strategy, as well as an Instagram content plan for a few weeks ahead, is key to success. Including clear goals and well-defined KPIs is also a must. A document like that can serve as a solid reference point and help set clear expectations for what a social media team should prioritize. And yet, only a minority of Instagram marketers — 40%— reported having a documented strategy. A slightly bigger number — 43% — said that they have a 2-week content plan with pre-written captions, ready-to post images, and researched hashtags.

Is your Instagram strategy

Do you have a ready-to-post Instagram content plan?

One of the ways to stand out in 2019 is by setting actionable goals and trackable KPIs that you can monitor over time. Need help deciding? Check out Iconosquare’s guide to Instagram analytics.

Content Trends

In 2018, single-image feed posts remained strong. They constitute the key element of Instagram content strategies, as they’re posted 84% of the time. Next come Stories (7%), videos (4.8%), and carousels (4.2%). An interesting finding here, however, is that while Stories, videos, and carousels are posted less often, they do drive a higher engagement rate in comparison to their posting frequency.

What kind of content do you post more often?

Did you know?

Captions can be a huge engagement-driving force, if done right. More often than not, longer, more personal captions result in higher engagement rates.

Despite that, 60.70% of marketers only write a short sentence (ca. 120 characters) in the caption, 30.02% extend it to a short paragraph, 6.63% write a few short paragraphs, and only 2.65% use the micro-blogging style when captioning their Instagram media.

Quick caption tips

Ask a question: End your captions with a question that would entice your audience to comment. It’s a clear CTA.

Tag other users: Tagging others increases exposure of your content and discloses the relationship.

Be personable: Having a sense of humor, being witty, and spicing up a caption with an emoji or two can work miracles for your brand humanization.

While traditional feed posts are indeed the most-preferred content type on the platform for businesses, Stories, Instagram Live, and IGTV are attracting more eyeballs as we speak.

Unarguably, introducing Stories has been Instagram’s smartest move yet.

Released in 2016, by the end of 2018 Stories grew to twice the size of Snapchat5 hitting the mark of 400 million+ daily users.

Stories were huge in 2017.

Huge in 2018.

And in 2019, they will simply become a must.

Meanwhile, Instagram’s newest feature, IGTV, is still acquiring traction.

According to our survey, only 27% of Instagram marketers reported to have tried out IGTV in 2018, while the majority, 73%, admitted that they haven’t touched the new feature yet. At the same time, 63% of Instagram marketers plan to get stuck into IGTV in the coming year.

Finally, a word on UGC.

Leveraging UGC on Instagram can save your business lots of time and money on content production, as well as help you build a loyal community. There are successful businesses that build up their Instagram presence solely on UGC, and while that might be not a rule to follow for all, incorporating UGC into your content strategy is definitely a good idea, as its engagement has been proven to increase by almost 7%6.

What kind of content do you plan to post more often in 2019?

  • 93%

    Instagram Stories

  • 80%

    Single image posts

  • 63%


  • 59%

    Instagram Live

  • 58%

    User-generated content

Posting frequency

How often should you post on Instagram? This question never gets old. While the traditional belief is that you should post as often as the algorithm allows, posting frequency highly depends on content types. Feed posts and Stories are definitely published more frequently than other types of content, although there is a clear difference between the two. For instance, single-image posts are published on the feed every day 50.17% of the time, while Stories are posted daily just 24.92% of the time. A higher percentage of marketers (29.32%) prefer to post them every 2-3 days instead. Meanwhile, literally no marketers go Live on Instagram every single day, and only a small fraction reposts UGC on a daily basis.

27.36% of Instagram marketers don’t know their best time to post

Finding your best time to post can have a dramatic effect on the reach and engagement of your posts. There is, however, no one-size-fits-all solution, as the best time to post is always individual.

The magic formula relies on ingredients like your business, your target audience, their particular location, and, of course, your tracking skills.

Your audience location
Identify the timezones of your target audience, and schedule your content for those time zones only.

Posting variety
Identify a time period when your audience is active, and schedule posts at different times and on different days.

Track the performance of your posts to identify which day and time works best for you.

Instagram hashtags

Love them or hate them, Instagram hashtags are one of the best ways to grow on Instagram. While Instagram does allow 30 hashtags per post, most marketers don’t reach their hashtag limit, sticking to the “less is more” approach instead. Instagram posts with hashtags, however, see 12.6% higher engagement7 than those without.

Why Hashtags?

Hashtags help your content get discovered.

They can be used across all content formats (including Stories and ads).

Brand hashtags are a great way to collect user-generated content.

People follow hashtags as much as they follow brands.


Similar to hashtags, geolocation is a powerful tool to increase your reach on Instagram. While in 2017, 34.8% of Instagrammers were geolocating their content, 2018 saw a positive curve, reaching 41.96%.

Do you geolocate your posts?

  • Always
  • 41.95%

  • Sometimes
  • 37,65%

  • Rarely
  • 9,78%

  • Never
  • 10,61%

While the overwhelming majority of marketers (84.08%) report to use hashtags on each post, only the minority of them (32.34%) admit that they conduct individual hashtag research for individual posts. Copy-pasting hashtags might seem like a time-saving approach, but it can be detrimental to growth. Rotating different hashtags across different posts and experimenting with hashtag volumes remain the two best hashtag practices to follow in 2019.

Do you use hashtags on each of your posts?

Do you pre-research hashtags for each post?

Influencer Marketing

Only 36.82% of marketers worked with influencers in 2018. However, this number could grow dramatically in 2019.

While this is still a relatively low figure, influencer marketing is on the rise, with the micro-influencers’ segment currently growing more than ever.


The amount of marketers planning to work with influencers in 2019.

Why micro-influencers?

Cost efficient: While IG celebrities like Kim Kardashian might charge up to $289,000 per sponsored post8, micro-influencers come at much lower cost.

Better than word of mouth: 82% of consumers have higher chances of listening to recommendations from micro-influencers than an average person.

More authentic: Micro-influencers are seen as more credible sources in the eyes of followers, compared to macro-influencers.

Higher engagement rate: Due to their niche focus, micro-influencers tend to have higher engagement rates on their posts.

78.52% of brands do not pay influencers for collaborations. About 12% reward exclusively in free products, services, subscriptions, vouchers, or discount codes in exchange for sponsored posts.

However, for those businesses that do pay for sponsored campaigns with influencers, 32% reveal paying $10-100 per post and 28.86% — $100-500 per post. Only about 2% of respondents admit paying anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 for a sponsored collaboration with Instagram influencers.

The price reportedly varies depending on the influencer’s following size and engagement rates (in this order).

How much do you pay per sponsored Instagram post?

Download the full report for additional insights, exclusive tips, and a 30% discount off Iconosquare to help you step up your game in 2019!

Instagram Ads

58.35% of marketers report having used Instagram ads in 2018, which makes it a much more popular promotion tactic than influencer marketing.

Despite that, seeing ROI from ads on the platform doesn’t come easy to an overwhelming majority of marketers.

Have you used Instagram ads in 2018?

Were you happy with ROI from Instagram ads?

Iconosquare insight:

With the Instagram algorithm prioritizing engagement and authenticity above all, the biggest challenge with ads is making them feel and look just as authentic as “normal content”. Ads need to look smooth and offer a seamless experience that doesn’t interrupt the feed.

2018 showed that achieving organic reach was even harder than in 2017. So working out a paid ads strategy will become essential in the upcoming year.

What Instagram ads to consider in 2019:

Feed ads

Boosted posts


Video ads


Never used Instagram ads before? Check out this easy 7-step tutorial on how to set up your first Instagram ad.

Want to take Instagram to the next level in 2019?

Then it’s time to streamline your Instagram marketing.

Luckily, there’s a tool for that.

By scheduling your Instagram posts, identifying your best time to post, and offering actionable Instagram analytics, Iconosquare can help you save heaps of time and become a more efficient marketer.

Ready to get started?