Explore our Social Media Marketing Toolkit

How do Fortune 500 brands use Instagram?

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 06 Jul, 2017
Essential Essential topic

The Instagram tactics of the top US companies

The Fortune 500 is, put simply, a list of the 500 most valuable US companies based on revenue. These are all enormous businesses, with trillions in combined revenue.  It's a mix of all different kinds of businesses, so some will be digital leaders whilst others may be laggards. TrackMaven have analysed the official Instagram accounts of all the Fortune 500 companies which use the platform. By doing so, they've given us an insight into how top brands use Instagram, but also reveals some mistakes that they're making, so you can learn from their mistakes as well as their triumphs.

How many top US companies use Instagram?

Fortune 500 companies are ranked by revenue, and interestingly we see that the higher revenue companies are considerably more likely to use Instagram. It's also worth noting that even among the top 100 the adoption rates are still only slightly over half. If you're a B2B business whose customers are extremely unlikely to be on Instagram, then it seems their view is, there isn't any point wasting time and budget on it. However for any B2C businesses we'd strongly recommend it. Instagram use is growing quickly, so even if only a small segment of your target demographic is currently using it, it's worth establishing a presence early so you're there when more and more of your customers become users.

fortune 500 Instagram

When do top brands post on Instagram?

Top brands tend to post during the working week and are slightly more likely to post on Thursdays and Fridays.

Fortune 500 Instagram engagement

They are also far more likely to post during work hours, with the lunch break being the time with the most posts.

engagement time of the day Instagram

But when is best to post for engagement?

Just because big brands tend to post during the working day, it doesn't mean they're definitely posting at the most effective times. TrackMaven analysed brands posts to see when they were getting the most engagement, and found that posts were considerably more likely to get engagement on Sundays, which is when brands were least likely to post.

Instagram sunday engagement

Similarly, the times that got most engagement were outside of working hours, which was when brands were least likely to post.  When you think about this, it makes perfect sense. Instagram is a social network for friends sharing photos - people won't be using it as much at work.

Instagram engagement

It's particularly interesting to see that the time with the very lowest engagement per post (12 noon) is also the time with the most posts by brands. It's best to avoid posting at times when people's feeds are overwhelmed by brand posts.

How can engagement be boosted?

Engagement on Instagram, like that for other social networks, depends on the quality content and well targeted messaging that chimes with its audience. But it's impossible to measure that quantitatively, so instead, TrackMaven looked at certain special characters used in posts to see if they had any effects on engagement.


It looks like brands often over-use exclamation marks, and so customers aren't engaged by them. Questions clearly go down well, leading to slightly more engagement, and hashtags are generally effective.

Who does it best?

Now we've seen what mistakes big brands are making in posting at the wrong times and on the wrong days. But it's also useful to see which brands are doing very well on Instagram so we can learn lessons from how they use it. 

Engagement top brands Instagram

Starbucks, Old Spice and Taco Bell lead the pack of top US companies when it comes to engagement on Instagram. These brands all tend to use high-quality images, bright colours and have an upbeat, happy tone.

Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

I was the Editor of Smart Insights between 2015-2017. I managed the blog and you will find blog articles on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. The new Editor is Carolanne Mangles.

Recommended Blog Posts