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3 billion likes: The 20 most successful brands on Instagram in 2018

Top 20 Instagram Brands January to May 2018 according to InfluencerDB

20 brands and north of USD 660 million in earned media.

With the first six months of 2018 firmly in the rearview mirror, we thought now is as good a time as any to take a look at some trends and notable performers in the international marketing scene so far in 2018. While the year is by no means over, we can learn a lot via looks back at and analyses of new platforms and trends. One combo that shows no signs of slowing: Instagram and Influencer Marketing. In fact, in the first six months of 2018 alone, some USD 660 million in earned media value was generated on Insta—just among the following 20 brands alone.

Our list is based on figures released by German Instagram analytics platform InfluencerDB, who tracked some 900K posts from January 1 to May 31, 2018 containing direct brand mentions, as well as 451K additional campaign posts based on a corresponding hashtag.

During the period surveyed, more than 11,000 influencers posted paid brand content (brand or “#ad” hashtags in various languages) in the above timeframe, while an additional 158,000 accounts with a minimum of 15,000 followers published additional unpaid posts. In total, posts by the top-20 generated a cool three billion in likes, resulting in an earned media value (EMV) of approx. USD 660 million.

EMV is one of the most important metrics for influencer marketing as it attaches a monetary value to the reach that brands receive as a result of partnering with influencers on social. In its essence, it is similar to the ad spend brands would have incurred to generate the same reach via standard advertising campaigns at a CPM of 5 USD. The following rankings are based solely on EMV.

1. Fashion Nova, USD 125.2 Million

The first Fashion Nova brick-and-mortar store opened in California back in 2006, but it wasn’t until it took to Instagram that it really took off. It’s now one of the most searched fashion brands online and publishers have been giving it the treatment with articles entitled “How Fashion Nova Won the Internet” and “The Rise of Fashion Nova.” With an excess of USD 125.2 million in EMV, Fashion Nova not only tops the rankings, but more than doubles the value of the second-place finisher. Further propelling Fashion Nova’s success are partnerships with US rapper Cardi B and singer Chiquis Rivera aka Valentina, among others.

2. LIKEtoKnow.it, USD 67.6 Million.

LIKEtoKnow.it first made a name for itself, when rewardStyle released the affiliate tool in 2015 and generated 15 million in seed funding. With a clever workaround LIKEtoKNOW.it sent e-mails to users who like pics posted by influencers. The only requirement is that both influencer and liker have to be registered on the platform. The company now offers a screenshot function in the app that lets users upload an image of whatever outfit their looking at and then sends them info on where to buy it. USD 67.6 million in earned media value is good enough for second place for LIKEtoKnow.

3. Zara, USD 59.5 Million

The first appearance by a “traditional company” is our ranking with an EMV of nearly USD 60 million is Spanish retailer Zara. Founded in 1974 in the Spanish province of Galicia, Zara is a proper Instagram heavyweight with 27 million subscribers and topped the rankings for most brand mentions by influencers with 36,079 accounts name dropping Zara—64% of those accounts boasting 15,000 and 50,000 followers. Only 677 paid partnerships speak to the brand’s organic strength.

4. H&M, USD 39.1 Million

Coming in at number four, and falling way off the pack it must be said, is the next traditional fashion player, H&M. The Swedish fashion company nevertheless put in an impressive first half of 2018 with an EMV in excess of USD 39 million and mentions by influencers topping 28K, all making H&M a worthy number 4.

5. KKW Beauty, USD 36.9 Million

KKW Beauty? While there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of KKW, there’s zero chance you’ve never heard of who’s behind KKW. You see, those three letters stand for none other than uber Insta-star Kim Kardashian West. KKW and its 114 million Instagram subscribers is of course a social heavy weight. And KKW is leveraging the reach to boost sales of beauty products.

The hottest brands on Instagram

Brand EMV in USD Total influencer mentions Like-follower ratio
1 Fashion Nova 125,169,866 12,468 4.1%
2 LIKEtoKNOW.it 67,597,827 5,205 2.6%
3 Zara 59,517,762 36,079 3.5%
4 H&M 39,116,167 28,003 3.8%
5 KKW Beauty 36,881,309 2,085 2.4%
6 Sephora 35,394,426 7,203 2.4%
7 National Geographic 32,120,106 6,199 3.6%
8 REVOLVE 31,396,885 4,203 3.3%
9 SugarBearHair 28,275,322 873 1.3%
10 Marvel 25,326,164 2,105 4.8%
11 OOTD Magazine 24,035,301 7,588 4.2%
12 Puma 23,789,461 8,840 3.2%
13 Calvin Klein 22,116,925 12,630 3.7%
14 Daniel Wellington 21,603,640 14,033 3.6%
15 Ulta Beauty 18,023,456 2,789 1.7%
16 Maybelline New York 17,134,864 8,399 3.1%
17 Lilly Lashes 13,925,588 1,951 3.4%
18 Flat Tummy Co. 13,354,006 1,608 1.4%
19 Tiffany & Co. 12,966,512 4,059 2.9%
20 Swarovski 12,137,273 4,683 2.3%

(Period surveyed: January 1 through May 31, 2018, Source: InfluencerDB)

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