For Your Interest: Instagram. Real Influence. Real Reach.

Image: RCA. Instagram logo, Weblx. Instagram Follow, Vexels. Grid: Camelia, Mhh Shin. Dj Gear, Stephanie Kilgast. Drills and Cameras, Brian Boucheron. Streets, Pedro Krum. Smiley Basketball, YNAP. Desk, Stephanie Kilgast. Brussels, Kmeron. Berlin, Felipe

Instagram is the main influencer, online id, photo album, advertising poster, direct messenger, cash machine and “social status” meter in life today.

It’s the all-in-one internet & social media tool which is pulling the strings of business, connecting stars to fans, reaching into all communities and literally shaping the day-to-day thinking and lives of society in 2021.

Starting a new brand? Instagram. Want to “raise awareness” about endangered wildlife? Instagram. Trying to exhibit prints of your latest portrait paintings? Instagram. Showing off the highlights of a vacation? Instagram. Looking for attention because of a new outfit?…Instagram.

#Influence: There are one billion*+ active monthly active users. (The same number as all the people in Europe and South America combined) 70% are under the age of 35. In the suburbs, it’s called “Insta.” Online and in the streets, it’s known simply as IG or “The Gram.”
The app has the power to deliver streams of revenue for brands & influencers, bragging rights plus 21st Century social status for those with big follower counts, money for project fundraising, attention from strangers who live far away…or the lonely ego crush of a carefully planned picture which generates no views.
(*1.16 Billion – 2020. *Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social)

Here’s a list of the top social media & networking platforms: Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Discord, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Deeper into the top 20*, Snapchat is ranked 8th, Pinterest is 11th, Tinder 13th, LinkedIn is 16th. Above them all, and operating in a V.I.P. section of their own, are YouTube and Instagram. YouTube is at the top of social media royalty, but it is much easier to watch the videos than make them. A) Different language barriers can limit reach. B) Ten, twenty, 60 minute video storytelling requires extra technical skills and creativity. They are called “YouTube creators” for a reason. (*Source: Google Search)

#SeeAndBeSeen: For businesses, institutions, celebrities and the general public, Instagram is the online space and identity (almost) everyone from teens in Russia to knitting groups in Sweden and Bollywood movie stars agrees on and pays attention to because…it’s free, easy to use, has worldwide reach and all you need is (pretty) pictures with a catchy caption. Just as important, Instagram has 3 sets of numbers on each account profile (posts, followers, following) that show exactly where you stand on the image/business/social ladder.

This fall, Instagram will be 11 years old. The top 6*** categories are travel, music, food & drink, fashion, movies, health & fitness. Like Kleenex, Velcro and Q-Tips, the app has shifted from being a brand product to its own word. To be “Instagrammable” means something is either attractive or eye-catching enough to photograph and post on social media.
Here are the raw numbers: 1 billion*+ active users.
User profile: 51%* female. 49%* male.
Average time spent on Instagram: 28-53** minutes per day.
Percentage researching products & services: 81%*.
Number using Stories feature: 500* million each day.
Average number of hashtags per post: 10.
(*Launched in Oct 2010. *Source: Hootsuite. 2020. **Backlinko, Oberlo.***Statista)

The online description of Instagram is short and kind of ordinary. In 11 words, it’s a photo and video sharing social media service and app*. This simple sentence does not describe the business muscle Instagram holds, the weight of what it represents socially, and how much the Insta influence has shaped today’s behaviour…
(*Source: Google)

#HustleCulture: Before Instagram, the term “influencers” did not exist. The word was “trendsetters.” Most of them were movie stars, big city sports celebrities or famous. Fast forward to now, anyone with a high follower count can call themselves an “influencer” and ride the gravy train. The average Instagram account has less than 1000** followers. 100,000k+ is “micro-influencer” land. 500,000k – 1 million can mean millions of dollars earned on a joint project, a (very) comfortable income chasing waves in Hawaii, discounts on flights and 5 star resort hotel rooms or free meals at fine restaurants. In 2019, brands spent $1.35* billion USD on Instagram influencer marketing and #sponsored posts. (*USA & Canada: Source: Instascreener. **Source: Backlinko)

#SeeingIsBelieving: Today new buildings & room interiors are designed with Instagram in mind, products are created just for that “viral” Insta effect, landscapes and tourist spots have special picture taking areas, and even children’s events & religious occasions are produced to highlight photo ops and build the right mood.

There are 25+ million business and corporate accounts on Instagram. Thanks to the IG influence, CEOs and VPs now spend hours in conference rooms meeting with tattooed Social Media Managers discussing budgets and brand strategy. Important organizations like NASA (@nasa) and the Government of Canada (@canada) have developed policies & guidelines on how to be “relatable” online, and international magazines now have regular features on OOTDs (Outfits of The Day). Instagram is so influential hackers sell bundles on sites like 4chan and the Deep Web to create fake views & followers, and online coaches/public speakers push 3-step programs or host paid sessions on how to “grow your audience.” [Hint: Only the company’s engineers and data analysts really know]

Celebrities are all over Instagram. For them, for the would be famous and everyday people, Insta is the internet outlet – amusement park – gallery where it’s A-Okay to post new pictures everyday of babies and pets, take naked photos in front of a bathroom mirror posing in a thong…or make up a pretend life as a world traveller/Batman’s best friend. Most celebrities use Instagram as a space for attention and billboard to push merch. On The Gram, everything looks great, everyone is extra good looking and each thing you see is worth trying/buying/wearing. The app is a big reason new cell phones now have two, three cameras and why selfies are alive and well in 2021.

#FakeCity: In reality, everyone knows a lot of the content they see posted on IG is…A) Perhaps not even real. B) Definitely edited. C) Possibly fake.
Still (almost) everybody with a mobile phone or tablet, from doctors to politicians, women, men, kids, cats & dogs, (yes, there are hundreds of animal accounts) has somehow decided the Instagram fantasy is worth chasing and believing. People can, and will, do almost anything for IG views, likes and followers.

Instagram is owned by Facebook. The company bought the rights and app for $1*billion USD in 2012. Today the estimated value is $102**billion USD.
Not all is sunshine, rainbows, scented candles and picture-perfect sunsets on Planet Instagram. To “unfollow” is the modern way of breaking up. Spending an evening scrolling through all the perfectly, perfect pictures and fab lives on show is a sure way to invite self doubt and personal lifestyle unhappiness. Low follower counts (or engagement) can cause planned events to be cancelled, delay product launches, push users into face & body overhauls for more attention and affect mental health. Sadly, on some occasions, it may even be a factor in depression and suicide.
The real life vs online situation is so slanted, both companies recently introduced a new option where users can disable “likes” as a way to drop the pressure to post.
(*Source: Forbes. **Source: Mediakix)

#Hashtag: There are 3 main features users can choose to upload onto Instagram. Live is for streaming. Stories can either be multiple images or short videos – which vanish after 24 hours, and regular posts.
The first picture posted onto Instgram was a photo of a dog next to a taco stand. It was a ‘test’ photo taken and posted by one of the two inventors, Kevin Systrom. (The other inventor was Brazilian-American Mike Krieger)
The most “liked” image on Instagram is a picture of an egg, that has generated over 55+ million* likes to date. The most followed account is…Instagram, which has 391* million followers. Nobody knows how many IG accounts are in fact fake? A fake Instagram account is called a Finsta. The estimated number is 95 million**. For sure, many celebrities use hidden ids, private accounts and tweaked user profiles. 
Athletes and public figures have also been “exposed” using burner accounts as they are often in the news for DM’ing (Direct Messaging) thirst traps and falling for online scams.
(*Source: Facebook. **Source: Backlinko)

Real, fake, corporate, celebrity and personal, here are the names, faces, brands & organizations moving the Insta counter, shaking up The Gram and leveraging image(s) for dollars, pounds and internet points (clout) in 2021…

Top Accounts on Instagram: Brands/People. Number of followers (million).
1.  Instagram: 391m*
2. Cristiano Ronaldo: 281m
3. Dwayne Douglas “The Rock” Johnson: 232m
4. Ariana Grande – Butera: 232m
5. Kylie Jenner: 229m
Notables: 6. Selena Gomez: 223m 7. Kim Kardashian: 218m
(*Source: Brandwatch)

Top Brands on Instagram.
1.  Instagram: 391m*
2. National Geographic: 160m
3. Nike: 145m
4. Real Madrid CF: 96.8m**
5. FC Barcelona: 95.6m**
(*Source: Brandwatch. **SearchEngineJournal)

Top TV/Movie Stars on Instagram.
1.  Zendaya: 93.7m*
2. Priyanka Chopra Jonas: 62.9m
3. Emma Watson: 59.7m
4. Deepika Padukone: 56.5m (Bollywood)
5. Gal Gadot: 54.2m
Notables: 6. Will Smith: 53.7m  7. Alia Bhatt: 53.3m (Bollywood)
(*Source: Speakrj)

Top Sports Stars on Instagram.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo: 281m*
2. Lionel Messi: 201m
3. Lebron James: 86.2m**
4. David Beckham: 66.5m*
5. Ronaldo de Assis Moreira – (Ronaldinho) 55.3m**
Notables: 6. Kylian Mbappe: 51.4m 
(*Source: Brandwatch. **trackalytics)

Grade: Worldwide views. Global attention.

Copyright (C) 2021. RaphaelClarence/La Source Online. All Rights Reserved.

[Note: All numbers and positions were correct at the time of publishing. Due to the nature of the internet, figures & positions may quickly rise or fall]

Photo Credits: Nasa, Billy Brown. Rap Star, XXL. Gal Gadot, Gage Skidmore. Nike Logo, Steven Yu. Chanel Logo, CC. Selfie A, Kevin Dooley. Selfie 2, Tor Andreas Torhaus. Instagram Model, Instagram Models. Buddha Gathering, Vera & Jean Christophe. Daniel Popper Sculpture, Colossal CC. Rooftop Dinning Room, Serra Fiorita/Birreria. Influencer Selfie, Dreamstime. Chelsea Hotel Room, CC. Gym Model, Apex Drop. Tacos Elegante, Restaurant Den. Mike Krieger, Kevin Systrom, Stephen Chernin. World Record Egg, CC. Kevin Test Dog, Aye Youth. Real Madrid, Loverblood88. National Geographic, Greybox Creative. Zendaya, BT. Deepika Padukone, Wikimedia Commons. Cristiano Ronaldo, StychedLife. Kim Kardashian, Twitter. Lebron James, Wikimedia Commons. Ronaldinho, Stemph. Emma Watson, Google Wikimedia, Creative Commons.