Instagram: Best of 2015.

Emily Marchak 12/02/15 - 3:54 pm

2015 was a big year for this visual-only social platform. From updates to current features to new editing options and filters, Instagram has been reshaped to better suit its audience. For retailers, it was all about the advertising program. Having launched with popular brands, Instagram went full throttle in September.

So much has happened this year on Instagram. Let’s break it down.

Instagram by the numbers.
This year, Instagram grew exponentially. A few months ago, Instagram celebrated a community of 400 million. That’s right. Instagram now has more than 400 million daily active users, with 75 percent of its audience outside the United States. In a recent study by Adparlor, 74 percent of users take an action after being inspired by a post.  This means that users are liking, following, downloading, visiting URLs etc. Instagrammers are a very active audience, statistics show that the 80 million photos are share per day and the platform gets approximately 3.5 billion likes per day.

Although users are able to access their account on desktop, they can only engage through the mobile app, forcing the mobile issue. According to Adparlor, one in five mobile minutes is spent on Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram. And the average Instagrammer spends 21 minutes per day using the platform.  

Instagram continues to improve the user experience.
Several enhancements were made to the platform throughout the year, offering users different ways to express themselves visually. From editing options to search functionality, Instagram sought to make their platform more user-friendly and more visual.

  1. Filters, Fade and Color.

This year, six new filters were made available: Lark, Reyes, Juno, Clarendon, Gingham and Moon. Other creative editing features included the Fade and Color tools. Users are able soften the tone of their images with the Fade tool. Whereas the color tool allows for users to tint the highlights and shadows of their visuals with the colors: yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, cyan and green.


Photo credit: Instagram.

  1. Layout from Instagram.

To ensure users don’t stray from the platform when laying out a post, Instagram announced a new app: Layout from Instagram. This application syncs with Instagram and allows users the option of custom layouts. Users are able to combine multiple photos within a single image with mirror, flip and other custom layouts.  


Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Support for landscape and portrait orientation.

Probably one of the biggest updates all year was the update to support landscape and portrait style images. Due to high demand and user behavior, Instagram updated the platform to support portrait and landscape orientation. Noting that one in five photos or videos posted are not in square format, Instagram recognized that it wasn’t easy for users to share a story.  Now, all you have to do is double tap the image to change its orientation, and post to your heart’s desire.


 Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Improved explore page and search function.

The explore tab underwent a major makeover. From trending places, people and hashtags, users are now able to explore emerging trends in real time. Instagram also debuted curated collections. Each week Instagrammers can sift through curated content like new people, extreme athletes, glimmering islands, yarn magic etc. All updates were made to bring the user more ways to engage within the platform.


Photo credit: Instagram

Not only was the explore page revamped but the search bar was too. Now, users can search accounts across four categories: top, people, tags and places all at once, making it easier and faster to find what they’re looking for. 


Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Improved Instagram Direct.

Instagram Direct launched in 2013, allowing users the ability to share moments between followers, from one person to a whole group. This year however, Instagram updated Direct to feature threaded messages, making it easier for users to go back and forth with people they message the most. Other updates included the naming of the groups, selfie sending and larger-than-life emoji sharing.


Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Hashtag-able emojis.

The visual platform got even more visual when they made it possible for users to hashtag emojis (which means you can search by emojis too). One month later, HubSpot took a look at the top 100 emojis used on Instagram. Here’s what made the top ten:


Photo credit: HubSpot

Instagram gets serious about advertising.
Although advertisements were introduced in 2013 to popular brands, the program really kicked off this year. In April, the carousel ad unit was launched. This format gave marketers a new way to share branded stories with multiple images. Of the first to use this format was GMC, who used the template to create a panoramic view of the interior of their new Sierra truck.


Photo credit: Instagram

Instagram didn’t stop there. In June, they announced their new ad formats were now designed to accommodate a variety of objectives. Similar to Facebook’s ad units, Instagram ads can be optimized for website clicks, video views, mobile app installs, etc.

Fast forward to September and advertising on the platform was made available for businesses everywhere. Today, businesses can advertise on Instagram in more than 200 markets worldwide.

The cinemagraph, video and real time marketing on Instagram.
Lots of emerging trends and visual formats were popular this year. Let’s take a look at the top three:

  1. Cinemagraph.

A major trend this year, witnessed across multiple platforms was the cinemagraph. Similar to the GIF, the cinemagraph mixes still images with video. Brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, Budweiser, Toyota and Gilt Groupe experimented with these types of visuals.


Raise a cup to sunroof weather! #RoaDDTrip #Cinemagraph

A video posted by dunkindonuts (@dunkindonuts) on

  1. Video.

Although video debuted on the platform two years ago, this year it was taken to new creative heights. Instagram allows 15 seconds of video with the choice of several filters. Target introduced their “Name that Shopper” series.


It’s time for a game of Name that Shopper! Guess which character made this haul? #namethatshopper

A video posted by Target (@target) on

  1. Real time marketing.

We saw a lot this year-from trending hashtags to topics that took the Internet by storm. Here’s a few for the yearbook:

  • The Dress.

It was the dress that wore the internet out. However, brands joined the conversation in very creative ways.

  • Marriage equality ruling.

The hashtag #lovewins was all over social channels. Brands took to Instagram to spread the love.


Love makes the world go round. #lovemustwin #lovethislife

A photo posted by Chobani (@chobani) on

  • Back to the Future Day.

The long anticipated October 21st 2015, the day depicted as the future in the Back to the Future II movie finally arrived. Using the hashtags #BackToTheFuture and #BackToTheFutureDay, this day went down in social media history as brands celebrated the iconic film. Take a look:

Did your brand execute a new Instagram strategy this year?

Instagram curious? Take a peek at 11 Instagram best practices every marketer should know. Be sure to stay tuned to the Brogan Blog for more articles on the Best of 2015.

Blog Category: Social Media

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