How People Use Instagram and What Brands Can Learn from It [2022 Study]

how people use Instagram and what brands can learn from it: 2022 study
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Ever since Kevin Systrom (co-founder) uploaded to Instagram a picture of a dog captioned “test” in 2010,  the platform’s popularity has skyrocketed.

For one, it now has 1.4B+ active monthly users. That makes it the 4th most popular social network on the planet.

Two, ~1,119 photos are uploaded EVERY second to Instagram, with users averaging roughly 29 minutes daily. 

The result?

Instagram has become the ultimate platform for businesses to connect with their audiences.


At Passport Photo Online, we’ve decided to survey 1,000+ Instagram users from the US to see how they use this platform and help brands enhance their Instagram presence.

Key Takeaways

how people use Instagram and what brands can learn from it (key takeaways)
  • 92% of Americans who use Instagram follow a business, with most following 6–10 business accounts.
  • 71% of Instagram users feel more connected to brands they follow on Instagram. 
  • 93% of shoppers are likely or very likely to buy from a business they feel connected to, thanks to Instagram over a competitor.
  • 89% of Instagramers prefer short-form content (<1,000 words) over long-form content (1,000+) when it comes to text posts from brands specifically.
  • 85% of people in the US have used Instagram to discover new products or services on Instagram.
  • Did Instagram ever inspire you to shop from businesses even when you weren’t looking to do so? 79% said “Yes.”
  • 71% of users will pick Instagram over other social networking sites when shopping—for Gen Zers, that number jumps to 82%.

The Perks of Being on Instagram for Brands

the perks of being on Instagram for brands

To begin with, we wanted to examine how many active Instagram users in the US follow a business.

It turns out a full 92% do. That percentage goes hand-in-hand with Instagram’s publicly-available data on the topic. 

Now, here’s how different demographics compare:

  • Gen Zers (25 or younger): 90%
  • Millennials (26–38): 94%
  • Gen Xers (39–54): 89%
  • Baby Boomers (55+): 84%

When it comes to gender, a similar percentage of men (91%) and women (92%) said they follow a business on Instagram, so there’s no significant difference there.

Next, we asked how many brands Americans follow:

  • 6–10: 36%
  • 0–5: 29%
  • 11–15: 16%
  • 21+: 11%
  • 16–20: 8%

As you can see, most IG users from the US follow 6–10 businesses. We then asked the respondents how often they interact with businesses they follow on Instagram (e.g., watch their content, like their posts).

Below are the results:

  • A few times per week: 25%
  • Several times a day: 20%
  • Once a day: 20%
  • A few times per month: 15%
  • Once a month: 10%
  • Once a week: 9%

In this context, we’ve also uncovered that 27% of users visit business profiles on Instagram every week, followed by 26% who claim to check brands’ accounts daily.

Moving along, we wanted to zero in on the benefits of being on Instagram for businesses, and we stumbled upon more than one hidden gem.

Thus, 71% of Instagram users in North America said they feel more connected to businesses they follow on Instagram. Having connected customers is critical, as they tend to make more frequent purchases and become loyal customers further down the road, which ultimately translates into business growth.

In fact, our research finds that 93% of people on Instagram are likely or very likely to buy from a business they feel connected to thanks to Instagram over a competitor. 

So brands, take notice!

Lastly, we asked Americans about their attitude toward businesses that don’t have an Instagram presence. Below are their responses:

  • Neutral: 57%
  • Positive: 25%
  • Negative: 10%
  • Very positive: 8%
  • Very negative: 1%

As you can tell, most of the survey respondents (57%) don’t have a strong opinion about businesses that don’t use Instagram yet. 

That said, the advantages of having a strong Instagram presence for brands are plentiful, based on our data. You’ll not only improve brand awareness but also enjoy an increase in site traffic and sales, thanks to more connected customers.

Types of Content Instagrammers Want to See from Brands

types of content Instagram users want to see from brands

At this point, we set out to learn about Americans’ content preferences on Instagram to help brands fine-tune their content strategies.


As the first order of business, we asked the respondents what content they enjoy the most from companies on Instagram. Below are the results:

  • Creative: 66%
  • Informative: 62%
  • Fun: 58%
  • Personally relevant: 53%
  • Inspiring: 48%
  • Beautifully produced: 42%
  • Educational: 41%

It’s important to note that brands shouldn’t skip educational or beautifully-produced content altogether, as it’ll remain relevant to some audiences. Instead, the above data suggests that businesses should focus more on crafting creative, informative, and fun content to meet the growing demands of their customers.

Next, we wanted to see what content formats Instagram users like seeing the most from businesses they follow on Instagram:

  • Stories: 58%
  • Text posts: 51%
  • In-feed video posts: 47%
  • Reels: 41%
  • Live broadcasts: 25%

When it comes to brands’ text posts specifically, we’ve also discovered that most Instagramers (89%) prefer short-form content (<1,000 words) over long-form content (1,000+). Perhaps, that’s why Instagram recently rolled out a new full-screen home feed, with users now gravitating more toward visual content than longreads.

Lastly, we asked Americans about their attitudes toward polls and quizzes posted by businesses they follow on “The Gram.” They are generally known to improve engagement, help generate leads, and provide honest feedback (for free).

Below are the results:

  • Positive: 48%
  • Neutral: 32%
  • Very positive: 13%
  • Negative: 6%
  • Very negative: 2%

How Instagram Can Help Businesses Drive Sales

how Instagram can help businesses drive sales

Undoubtedly, Instagram is an incredibly powerful sales driver for brands that mastered the platform. After all, there are 120M+ active IG users in the US alone that businesses can potentially reach.

Hence, we wanted to gauge the survey takers’ experiences with shopping on the platform.

First, we asked Americans if they ever used Instagram to discover new products or services. A full 85% said “Yes.” A somewhat similar percentage (74%) also mentioned they purchased a service or product via Instagram.

Digging deeper, we asked the respondents what actions they typically take after seeing a product or service on Instagram:

  • Search for more information about the product or service: 67%
  • Visit the business’s site or mobile application: 61%
  • Start following the business’s account on Instagram: 53%
  • Make a purchase online or offline from the business: 38%

While a small percentage of Instagram users (38%) go straight ahead and buy a product/service after seeing it on the platform, many will start following your account or visit your site. That will result in extra traffic and improved brand awareness, among others.

As our pen-ultimate question, we asked Americans if the IG app ever inspired them to shop from businesses even when they weren’t looking to do so. As many as 79% answered positively. Here’s how people with different incomes compare:

  • <$10,000: 61%
  • $10,000 to $24,999: 72%
  • $25,000 to $49,999: 78%
  • $50,000 to 74,999: 83%
  • $75,000 to $99,999: 91%

Lastly, we asked the respondents how likely they are to buy a product or service via Instagram over other social networks. Nearly 71% said they are likely or very likely to choose it over others. Here’s a demographic breakdown of the answers:

  • Gen Zers (25 or younger): 82%
  • Millennials (26–38): 69%
  • Gen Xers (39–54): 69%
  • Baby Boomers (55+): 55%


It’s evident that Americans have started to embrace social media shopping options, and Instagram is now the go-to place for e-commerce, particularly when it comes to Gen Zers. 

That makes Instagram the key social network brands can’t miss out on.


We conducted an online survey of 1,040 US respondents who use Instagram via a bespoke online polling tool in May 2022. This study was created through multiple steps of research, crowdsourcing, and surveying. All survey participants’ responses were reviewed by data scientists for quality control. ​​The survey had an attention-check question.

Fair Use Statement

Did our findings help you learn more about Instagram and its benefits for brands? If you believe your audience will be interested in this information, feel free to share it. Just remember to mention the source and link back to this page.