With TikTok entering the social media scene and getting such a high level of attention and adoption as the one reached nowadays, all the other major networks were significantly impacted.
Whether we’re talking about the necessity of launching new and entertaining features to satisfy social media users’ growing demand for short-form content or just about a new performance landscape, changes, and challenges inevitably appear on the horizon.
Let’s take Instagram’s case, for example, which was the most engaging social media platform before TikTok’s reign, and see where its stands today from a performance perspective.
Instagram benchmarks and insights
- Instagram Reels have had a 57.4% YoY growth in usage
- In 2023, Instagram Reels score an average engagement rate of 1.23%
- While being the most engaging content type on Instagram, Reels’ engagement entered a dropping phase
- Reels generate the highest amount of saves for the smallest profiles
- Carousels spark the highest number of comments across all profile size
- With a double reach rate than the other post types, virality is more likely to be achieved through Reels
- Reels have a 2x higher average impression rate compared to the other Instagram content types
Here’s a preview of what you’ll discover reading this study:
- What’s the average engagement rate by followers for Instagram in 2023, highlighting what’s the most engaging content type at the moment.
- How Instagram engagement rate has evolved over time for different content types: a comparison between 2022-2023.
- What type of content is more likely to be saved by users: we unveil what people's preferences for saving content on Instagram are.
- What do people usually comment on: we discover which types of posts make people want to start conversations with brands on Instagram.
- What’s the average reach for every type of content: we find out how a brand is more likely to reach people based on the type of posts they use.
- What's the average impression rate for Instagram: we expose the type of content that is likely to get served into people's feeds more repeatedly.
1. Instagram Reels have had a 57.4% YoY growth in usage
When Instagram released Reels, the platform’s users jumped at the opportunity of testing out the platform’s new feature, excited about having the possibility of playing with short-form videos within their favorite network.
This, obviously, made marketers wonder whether or not brands should as well leverage this type of Instagram content format in order to get more attention from their Instagram audiences and increase their performance.
But, as is the case with every major change and new phase, in the beginning, for lacking a clear content direction, examples, data, and inspiration sources, most businesses were hesitant about leveraging this content type.
This was confirmed by our data as well, with Instagram Reels’ having a usage increase of 57.4% over 2023.
2. In 2023, Instagram Reels score an average engagement rate of 1.23%
With an engagement rate per post of 1.23% on average, Reels are definitely the best-performing content type on Instagram at the moment.
So, how to use this information to your brand’s advantage?
Well, the key takeaway is that by integrating this content format into your Instagram posting strategy, you increase your chances of connecting with your audiences at a deeper level. Ultimately, this stirs brand loyalty, which also translates into more sales and business growth.
If you’re not sure where to start with your Reels’ creation, here’s a quick tip from Jackie Benjamin - an international social media consultant: “Reels should be original, engaging, and entertaining while allowing your brand voice to shine. You can start with an easy topic, such as frequently asked questions, then expand as you get more comfortable.”
In spite of that, even if Reels make for the best-performing content on Instagram, it doesn’t mean that is all that brands should post on their profiles. In the end, diversity is a key factor depending on which Instagram’s algorithm boosts your content.
Here’s what Jenn Herman, Instagram marketing expert, has to say about this: “If your insights indicate Reels outperform feed posts, then lean in more to Reels - but don't go all in on any one type of content.”
3. While being the most engaging content type on Instagram, Reels’ engagement entered a dropping phase
According to our social media industry benchmarks study, there’s a dropping tendency in engagement across all social media platforms that is visible across all content types. And Reels make no exception.
Naturally, Reels’ engagement was at its peak when the platform first introduced the feature, rewarding early adopters with amazing results to encourage its usage.
As data indicates, given the mostly flat engagement line that carousels and images have had over the past year and Reels’ continuously decreasing engagement values, there’s not impossible for Reels to end up the lowest-performing content type on Instagram at some point.
Ultimately, this may happen as a result of TikTok being seen as the pioneer and better-suited platform for short-form content, already having the majority of short video enthusiasts in its corner, for being considered more authentic.
All in all, everything is rooted in each platform’s core audience segment, which may simply have different needs. Let’s not forget that while TikTok is Gen Z’s most preferred social network, Instagram’s predominant user base consists of Millenials.
And with Instagram experimenting with so many video formats over the years - from the old IGTV to Reels nowadays - there’s really very hard to predict what the future will bring.
4. Reels generate the highest amount of saves for the smallest profiles
Depending on your social media goals, you may optimize your content for saves, comments, shares, or you name it.
Saves, in particular, represent a metric that’s becoming more and more important for marketers to track, as they signal the content that Instagram users find most valuable through their intention of revisiting it.
Important to mention is that, at the moment, Instagram Reels generate the highest number of saves for the smallest profiles and carousels for the largest ones.
When looking at the data, what must be kept in mind is that there might be some different trend directions when comparing B2C vs. B2B Instagram marketing.
For example, Reels can be a great saves-generator content type, especially in the case of B2C brands, which usually have a more emotional or fun approach, as that’s the type of content their audiences are looking for.
If we really think about it, isn’t video the type of content that is indeed best at capturing feelings and sensations? And isn’t this what consumers are more prone to appreciate?
Nonetheless, given that every business is unique, the best strategy would be to optimize your content based on your own performance data.
5. Carousels spark the highest number of comments for the smallest and largest accounts
When analyzing the median number of saves per post by profile size vs the median number of comments, we discovered an interesting fact.
While the smallest accounts get a similar number of comments as they score in saves, the middle-sized and largest ones usually get more saves than comments.
That’s probably because, in the case of bigger brands, people are less likely to participate in a conversation, thinking their comments and voice have low chances of getting noticed, going for a more passive way of interaction instead.
The last mention I want to make is that overall, carousels usually drive more conversations and, therefore, are a must-have in any social media planning.
6. With a double reach rate than the other post types, virality is more likely to be achieved through Reels
With the rise of TikTok, a new social media best practice appeared on the horizon, as that was the recipe for many businesses and creators to put their name on the map and get visibility on their accounts - which is the leverage of trends.
Nowadays, trends have the power to make a brand go viral. As a consequence, in an attempt to gain more recognition, businesses have started to pay more attention to trends and jump at the possibility of integrating some into their posting strategies whenever one fits their core values.
Since it all started with the short-form content type - for being more interactive and entertaining - there’s only natural for this post format to be the most effective one when it comes to integrating trends into a content strategy.
The very proof of that lies in Reels’ way superior reach rate which at the moment stands at an average of 30.81%, which is double compared to the other’s Instagram content formats.
From a reach rate perspective, the most worrying insight that data has highlighted is that over 2023, the carousel’s reach rate got cut down by 45%, which is a lot.
7. Reels have a 2x higher average impression rate compared to the other Instagram content types
We’re down to our last metric of this Instagram content performance analysis - the impression rate, which is one of the key metrics you should look at to deeply understand your audience’s participation and retention in the conversations you start on social media.
By tracking this KPI, you can evaluate just how effective your content is in meeting your audiences’ needs, as the Instagram algorithm is likely to show users the same piece of content for more than one time when it is very well tailored to their navigational needs.
From an impression rate point of view, Instagram Reels, once more, score the highest values, having an average impression rate of 33.83%, that’s also double compared to the other Instagram post formats.
However, just like in engagement’s case, there seems to be a dropping tendency in the average impression rate Reels score as well, year over year having a 32% decrease.
The findings of this study were based on the analysis of 7.159.941 Instagram posts, coming from 99.214 business pages, that had an active presence between January 2022 - May 2023.
The average engagement rate per post (by followers) on Instagram is calculated as the total engagement (the sum of likes and comments) of the posts published within an established timeframe divided by the total number of followers that a profile has. The result is then multiplied by 100.
The median number of comments and saves: midpoint values for the comments and saves generated by a post type.
The average Instagram reach rate represents the percentage of unique people that have seen a profile’s posts. It is calculated by dividing the total reach of a post by the total number of followers and multiplied by 100.
The average Instagram impression rate shows the percentage of people that have seen a profile’s posts more than once. It is calculated by dividing the total impressions of a post by the total number of followers and multiplied by 100.