We all know and love instagram for its usability, depth and breadth of content, and how it can be used to drive revenue for a business. But there’s so much to know and so little time! So we’ve done the hard work for you – here’s what’s working on Instagram in 2021, and which elements should you be adding into your Instagram marketing approach.

With this new research report from Mention who teamed up with Hubspot to analyse over 100 million public posts, from a million users, to establish key trends and shifts in Instagram user engagement.

And there are some really valuable insights here. Of course, engagement trends will also vary by audience, so not every generic trend will align with what you’re seeing. But by understanding the latest shifts, you can revise your strategy – or at the least, you can experiment with new options to see whether they improve your results.

Some of the key findings:

  • Carousel posts have overtaken both single image and video updates as the most engaging type of post
  • The caption length that saw the most engagement in between 1,000 and 2,000 characters
  • Beauty and cosmetic industry related accounts received the most engagement, on average

​Some of these notes are as you might expect, but others could spark new ideas for your approach.


Here’s some of the most interesting insights:

The average engagement rate of any kind of post overall decreased by 0.84% in 2021 to 1.42%

Carousel posts overtook both single image and video posts as the most engaging type of post this year, with 62 likes and 5 comments as the norm. In 2020, video posts were in the lead as the most engaging post type.

Smaller Instagram accounts are growing and finding new ways to reach audiences. Majority of accounts have less than 1,000 followers (53.6%), a slight increase compared to 2020 results (52.35%)

The best caption length overall for most engagement in the 1,000-2,000 character range, meaning that championing story-telling can help drive more engagement and display authenticity on posts.

Most Influential brands:

  • Netflix 
  • Givenchy
  • Lamborghini

Most Influential personalities by gender:

  • 40% female
  • 60% male

Los Angeles, CA was the city with the most geotags for the 3rd year in a row!


How to improve your Instagram presence?

Ensure that your Instagram profile is complete. This means filling out the bio thoroughly with relevant keywords to your business, as well as creating IG stories highlights and curating your posts in easy-to-scroll guides.

Be responsive and interact with your community. Be sure to reply to followers’ comments, direct messages, and follows.

Post a good balance of different types of content. Diversify your content to include image posts, video posts, Stories, IGTV and even reels.


The Covid-19 pandemic turned 2020 into a year like no other, as lockdowns around the globe and social distancing helped to spur a massive surge in Instagram usage. But, just as the platform and its users evolve, your Instagram marketing strategy needs to evolve with it. Take the key learnings from this report to develop a strategy that maximises your ROI from instagram in 20201!