Welcome to our latest Instagram growth and engagement report. We’ve looked at 2,500 Instagram profiles and their progress in the month of July for this study. We’re including a lot of other news and information in this report in order to keep you up to date on all the happenings in the world of Instagram.

According to the latest quarterly report from Facebook 300 million people now actively use Instagram. Facebook reports that a user spends 46 minutes per day between Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. 32% of US teens see Instagram as their main platform compared to 24% for Twitter and 14% for Facebook.

All this sounds promising, but not everything is completely positive in the Instagram world. Let’s see what we’ve discovered in our study.


The average follower growth has dramatically declined

The average follower growth in the month of July was at 0.34%. The largest profiles, those with more than 1 million followers, had growth of 0.28%. The smallest profiles, those with less than 1,000 followers, had growth of 0.36%. This is a huge 77% drop compared to the 1.48% organic growth we saw in the month of May, when we did the study last.

The general trend we’ve seen in the last few months is that the organic growth is dropping on Instagram. 1.95% in April, 1.48% in May, 0.49% in June and now 0.34% in July. This is still better than the 0.21% organic page likes growth we see on Facebook, or the 0.19% growth on Twitter, but there is a reason to consider that Instagram is becoming saturated as a platform.

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A recent study has shown that up to 24 million Instagram users could be bot accounts. These are fake accounts that are active on the platform and are interacting with other users. These spam accounts have posted 6 images on average and have a follower-to-following ratio of 1:41.

Here is a great article on this black market which actually estimates at least 45 million Instagram bot accounts. The article explains how the spammers work in order to make their fake accounts look like the average Instagram account.

Why are there so many bot accounts you may be wondering? There is a big black market for buying followers and buying engagement on Instagram.

Their current 35 million bots “are not enough,” said Juice, because “there are the rare big clientele that pay six figures for 5 to 25 million followers.” People buy fake followers because “it increases organic following,” he explained. “A person with more followers is more attractive.” Rantic’s clientele includes politicians, celebrities and corporations, but most often, it’s young women. To date, out of the “over 75,000 instagram clients” Rantic has claimed to service, 85 percent of their clients “are females 14-20 years old” said Juice.

There might not be a need for this black market anymore. Instagram is making the move towards opening the ads platform to all advertisers. The latest news here is the opening of the advertising API to a selected number of third-party partners. Expect to see a lot more ads in your Instagram feed.

The engagement rate is on the decline too

The average engagement rate was at 2.12% of all followers in the month of July. For the largest profiles this was at 2.33%. For the smallest profiles this was at 4.14%. This is a 19% drop compared to the 2.61% engagement in May, when we did this study last.

Similar to organic growth, we are seeing a continuous decline in engagement on Instagram too. From 2.8% in April, to 2.61% in May, 2.14% in June and now 2.12% in July. Looking on the bright side again, the 2.12% engagement on Instagram is 308% higher than 0.52% of your total page likes that engage with an average post on Facebook. It’s also 1313% higher than 0.15% of total followers that engage with the average tweet.

One way to try and get in front of more people is by using hashtags. One feature that finally did get onto the web is the search box which could get your hashtagged content to more people. You can now search for keywords, people, places and hashtags on the web. This fits well with the reactive content strategy we’ve recommended in our last Instagram report.

The largest profiles are the most active

The 2,500 profiles we studied posted 2.39 posts per day on average in July. The largest profiles were most active posting 5.45 posts on average per day, while the smallest profiles were less active with 1.69 posts per day.

93.29% of all the posts were images, while 11.28% of all comments were on videos, despite video only being 6.71% of all content posted.

97.64% of all interactions were likes, 2.36% were comments and the response time for the first comment to be posted was 49 seconds on average.

Larger photo resolution

Photos engaged 2.16% of followers on average, while videos engaged 1.58% of followers in July. One thing that could help boost photos even more is that Instagram has introduced larger resolution for images. New images uploaded to the platform are now stored in the 1080px resolution. 1080x1080px size for images is a nice increase compared to the standard 640x640px. You can see the new resolution images in the iOS and Android apps right now, while it will be coming to the web in the near future.

The latest version of Instagram for Android seems to have finally understood that people don’t use filters that much anymore. In our monthly reports it is consistently the “no filter” option that takes the top spot in the most used filters list. This is the case for the month of July too. The new version of the Instagram app makes it even quicker to share an image and you can still add filters by swiping the screen.

So what’s a brand to do in the world of Instagram with its declining growth and engagement?

The decline in organic growth and engagement on Instagram is a worrying sign. It leads us to believe that the platform is becoming saturated with more brands joining and posting more and more content.

The numbers are still higher than on Facebook and Twitter, but it will be interesting to see if this downward trend continues in the coming months. The positive aspect is that brands can now have access to ads which can help reach a larger audience.

So what’s a brand to do now in a world of declining growth and engagement? We recommend you take these steps:

1. Make sure you have high quality standards and only post great content that resonates with your audience. Look into what is popular on Instagram, look into what your competitors are doing and identify what has worked well on your own profile in the past.

2. Be sure to post content on the optimal days and times of the week when the majority of your audience is online and is engaging.

3. Tag your photos, include location when relevant, include trending hashtags that are relevant and tag people that are in the photo. All this can get your content in front of more people.

If you’d like to play around with the data and compare your own Instagram profile to the 2,500 profiles we looked at in this study, do check out our Instagram Analyser. It’s a free tool and it’s updated daily with all the latest numbers. How does your growth and engagement compare to the average?