Instagram's 2017 Most Popular Brands: Best Social Media Marketing

Those with Highest Instagram Followers, Hashtag Mentions, Posts

Two Baby Sea lions
Taken by Andrew Thirlwell / Getty Images

Instagram is a mobile, desktop, and internet-based photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately. From teens and tweens to celebrities and the Fortune 500 Instagram is hugely popular because of its ease of use and ability to tell a story without text. As of April 2017, Instagram reported 700 million monthly active users.

For those who follow, and those who are working to create the best social media marketing results, Instagram is simplistic in its design and use but is capable of accomplishing a great deal.

It is an excellent tool if you're looking to connect with others online, tell your story, sell your brand, or grow your business.

The Instagram Story

The social media app was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in October 2010 as a free mobile app exclusively for the iOS operating system. A version for Android devices was released two years later, in April 2012, followed by a feature-limited website interface in November 2012. Applications for Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 were launched in April 2016 and October 2016, respectively.

Instagram's Growth Mode

Originally, a distinctive feature of Instagram was its confining of photos to a square but all that changed in 2015 when an update allowed users to upload media to full size. However, before the founders made this historic change they went about making several other serious upgrades. In 2012 (just two years after its launch) Instagram made changes including adding an "Explore" tab that showed users a variety of media, including popular photos and photos taken at nearby locations.

They also added a trending tags and places option, channels for recommended videos, and a place for curated content. Next, private messaging was launched in 2013. In 2016, Instagram introduced a "Stories" feature, letting users add photos to a story, with the content disappearing after 24 hours. In 2016, Instagram also added live-video functionality to it's "Stories" feature.

Why Instagram Became Popular so Quickly

Instagram is a bit like the little engine that could, because for a simple-seeming app it packs a punch. The app lets registered users upload photos or video to the service. Users can apply various digital filters to their images (for a customized look) and add locations through geotags. Users can also add hashtags to their posts and link their photos up to other content on Instagram that features the same subject or overall topic. Additionally, Instagram users can connect their account to other social media platforms (like Facebook or Twitter), enabling them to share photos to those profiles as well. 

What follows is a list of the companies and organizations with the most amount of Instagram followers as of April 2017. This list reflects the leading global brands, from NASA to Nike. The numbers reflect Instagram followers in 1,000. It's worth noting that an environmental conscience and artistically creative entity like National Geographic came in first, well ahead of fashion brand CHANEL.

Top 2017 Instagram Users

1. National Geographic: 80.3

2. Nike: 73.9

3. Victoria's Secret: 56.8

4. Real Madrid C.F.: 52.1

5. FC Barcelona: 51.7

6. 9GAG: Go For Fun: 41.6

7. Nike Football Soccer: 29.4

8. NASA: 26.5

9. NBA: 24.5

10. CHANEL: 23.7