The Most Popular and Active News Brands on Instagram

Instagram logoNow that Instagram web profiles have been around for a few months I thought I’d check in on the participation and activity of major news brands.

I keep coming across things like the Simply Measured study showing that 59% of top brands are now active on Instagram and the news that Instagram has surpassed 100 million active users. So it seems like a good time for media organizations to take stock of their efforts on the photo sharing site.

(Yes, there was also the recent backlash over privacy and the terms of service that prompted Instagram to backtrack, but that’s another topic).

Instagram may be a better fit for lifestyle publishers like the sites I covered in my posts on StumbleUpon traffic declines, Pinterest traffic gains and links from Pinterest. But today I thought I’d focus on news organizations.

So I took a look at the Instagram profiles of major news sites, starting with the group I compared in my post on Google+ engagement. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but it provides a good cross-section of print, broadcast and Web-only media organizations.

Not all of those news sites are on Instagram at this time, so I removed several and added a few others that I’d come across. If I’ve left out any particularly active media outlets please let me know.

For each profile I captured the three available data points: photos, followers and following.

Time Magazine Instagram web profile

Looking at follower counts is not particularly instructive since these figures quickly become outdated. But it offers a basic snapshot that allows for a relative comparison. And the larger the audience the greater the opportunity for impressions and engagement, so total followers does have some value.

In addition the photos and following counts give a rough sense of which news sites are most active in terms of posting and interacting with others.

Here are the news brands ranked by total followers:

 Instagram ProfileFollowersPhotosFollowing
1NBC News316,012666159
4CNN iReport233,7315195,931
6The Huffington Post88,95111957
7The Wall Street Journal77,36035763
8Washington Post66,969167391
9Breaking News65,47184339
10National Post52,3254144,726
12New York Magazine46,48839198
13USA TODAY26,3743652,426
14PBS NewsHour19,241312108
17Sky News12,902019
19The Daily Beast10,50335092
21Chicago Tribune5,825259387
25Al Jazeera English1,0121252
26CBS News6791123
27Financial Times40718210
29BBC News38000
30The Verge34700
31New York Post31601
33CBC News2379638
34ABC News21100
35The Boston Globe129328
36Yahoo! News53214
37The Next Web5204
38The Independent3324

NBC News leads the pack by a considerable margin, with TIME, NPR and CNN iReport also doing well.

Only the top five profiles have more than 100,000 followers, and only the top 19 have more than 10,000.

Wired wins the prize for most photos shared with 790, and CNN iReport, National Post and USA Today are following the most other users by far.

A number of sites have essentially set up placeholder profiles that have little or no activity. Interestingly Sky News has attracted 12,000+ followers despite not having shared a single photo.

Noticeably absent were media outlets like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Fox News, The Guardian, Mail Online and Business Insider.

If I missed any of those profiles please let me know. I was unable to find them using what seemed like all the logical profile name possibilities. Several of the brand names are being used by individuals with no affiliation.

Have Fun with the Photos

I may do another post on the types of photos the news sites are sharing and what seems to be working.

In the meantime I just wanted to point out that I like what NPR is doing with their “I Love NPR” signs, like this one with the Downton Abbey cast:

Downton Abbey Cast on NPR


  1. says

    It is fascinating to see that NPR ranks # 3 of the news agencies on Instagram. This is a perfect example of how a traditional media business (i.e. Radio) is supplementing it’s content via social media. Yes most people listen to NPR but having an additional visual component that is easily accessible via Instagram adds a whole extra level of engagement.

  2. says

    Thanks Brandon, looks like TMZ is doing well. I didn’t include any celebrity news sites in this sampling since I was focusing more on mainstream news with a little tech/social thrown in. But TMZ would come at #7 on this list.

    I was thinking about drilling down on some additional categories like celebrity and entertainment, fashion, food, home, etc. in another post.

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