Instagram study U.Mass

#Nike “Owns” Millennials on Instagram

You may have read the recent news that Twitter is shutting down Vine.  As The New York Times reported, one theory why is that “Instagram ate it.” The photo sharing site owned by Facebook has 500 million users and is growing exponentially, especially among Millennials.

Twitter launched Vine three years ago and has made rock stars of users who do back flips, balance stacks of things on their heads and amuse tweebs in 6-second videos. Now these stars are migrating to Instagram and other larger platforms where companies like Nike are luring in viewers, as reported in a recent study by UMass-Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research.

Entitled Follow the Leader: The Adoption and Use of Instagram by the Inc. 500 and the Fortune 500, this most recent iteration of the Center’s annual benchmarking report shows Instagram to be the fastest growing social media platform with 22% of the Inc. 500 and 30% of the Fortune 500 now active users.

Rank influences the adoption of Instagram. Forty-four percent of the top 200 on the Inc. 500 list and 49% of the top 200 on the Fortune 500 list are active Instagram users.

#Hashtags Drive Traffic

For those posting on Instagram, hashtags are the road map that drives people to your post. According to co-author Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, Director of the Center, “Millennials are obsessed with Nike and want to engage with the company. Every study finds that Nike owns Millennials across all social media platforms.”

Companies both big and small are using hash tags to reach their followers. Astoundingly, #Nike totals 49,060,041 posts at this date.

Every picture/video posted typically carries a popular hashtag or a relevant one so that those searching the site can find things that interest them, according to the study, and many interact with companies by leaving comments.

How the 500 Use Instagram

The study found that for the Fortune 500 the objective of using Instagram is to disseminate information about their products/product lines, brands, specs, etc. They also use it for product promotion.

For the Inc. companies, there is almost an equal emphasis on product promotion and sharing company happenings/events.

Those in the consumer products and retail/consumer products industries hold the most active Instagram accounts.

Both use Instagram differently than they use other platforms like Facebook which is predominantly used for interaction and engagement.


Follow the leader: Instagram goals


The majority (77% of Inc. 500 and 75% of Fortune 500) receive 1-30 comments per post.  Sixteen percent of the Inc. 500 do not receive any comments. In contrast 25% of the Fortune 500 receives more than 30 comments with 11% actually garnering 91 or more.


Follow the leader: Instagram comments


“For the Fortune 500, Instagram is a network where they can leverage their power, authority and wealth,” Said Barnes. “The difference in usage surprised me. I didn’t think of Instagram as a platform that had a range of usage. I thought it was a place to put pictures.”

She also noted, “The Inc. 500 don’t have famous brands, so posting office events and sweepstakes enables these companies to engage and get to know people and vice versa.”

Using Instagram for Your Business

Social Media Examiner recently published an article 4 Ways to Use Instagram Stories for Business that could help guide you to more engagement with your customers — and bring in new ones. The four techniques are:

  • Deliver special offers
  • Show off your creative process
  • Share a raw, informal glimpse  into your business
  • Sign on for a Takeover

So if you’ve been a laggard in using Instagram for simply posting photos of sunsets, babies and your dog, you may want to consider how Instagram can help you to build your business by attracting new customers and interacting with the ones you already have.

How Do You Use Instagram?


Leave a Reply


  1. Read about Twitter closing down Vine and Instagram taking over. Am sure the latter is useful for companies promoting their products. If I was selling products I would definitely use Instagram. Almost everyone I know has an Instagram account. Will not open one for the simple reason that I barely have time with Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. Not to mention my blog. If I change my mind and have more time I will open an account.

    • I agree about not having time for Instagram. But my friends and followers are now using that network more than Facebook so I’m grudgingly starting to follow them there.

  2. I still have not signed up for Instagram. I don’t know how I would fit it in with the time demands of Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps, I’ll give it a go when I start a proper author website and release a full-length book.

    • Jeri — I belong to Instagram but haven’t posted to it. However, the reason I joined Facebook was to follow friends and relatives and they have migrated to Instagram so I’ve started to follow their streams. Didn’t want one more social network but got to join the crowd!

  3. Great Post!
    Clearly, Instagram is ahead in the race. We have seen hashtags like RIPVine trending in the past.
    If you ask me, I have a account on Instagram and love sharing stuff there.
    Sharing ahead 🙂

    • Sushmita — I think Instagram is particularly popular with younger people. Facebook’s fastest growing demographic is baby boomers.

  4. I did hear about Twitter shutting down Vine. I tried Vine a few times and really didn’t care for it. Instagram is much better. The hashtags really help get me noticed. I use between 5 – 10 hashtags. I also like to look for popular ones to use. They work better than the less popular ones. But if the image is a niche then I may use it anyway because it will be closer to the topic of the image. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Sabrina — you’re obviously very experienced using Instagram. I basically follow people and Like their photos. I think I’ll try a few hashtags and see what I come up with. Will be interesting.

  5. Hi Jeannette: I LOVE Instagram! I am a visual person, so posting to a site where the images are large and categorized by hashtags is right up my alley. What I also love about Instagram is that I can post to 4 platforms at once. When I post an image to Instagram, it also automatically posts to my FB, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts.

    Instragram has been great in helping expand my network in the world of chocolate, which is really helpful. Another reason I love it is that when I travel, I can post to Instagram in the moment. That lets my readers know where I am and what I’m doing. It also lets my sponsors and supporters see that I am helping leverage their brand or destination, because there are some things that won’t make it onto my blog or into my books. But I may give them a brief mention on Instagram and in my social media networks and they are happy with that.

    Instagram may not be for everybody, but it certainly is working well for me.

    • Doreen — Instagram is no doubt the “go-to” social network now. I’ve resisted becoming actively involved because it’s one more network to keep up with. But I’m being dragged in like or not! I’m glad it’s working so well for you.

  6. As usual, information like this is very helpful for someone who had little or no experience with these programs of social media site. I heard of Vine, but never used it, so I have little or no background information about it. I, myself, just started using Instagram, and am trying to learn as much as I can, your post helps very much. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • You’re welcome, William. To return the favor, I’ve learned a lot from you about Medieval Fairs, and discovered that my new home of Sarasota has had an annual fair for many years, spread of 3 weekends in November. So here is the link for more information if you’d like to check it out