Consumer brands virtually absent from Facebook and Instagram Top 100

Last week I explained the numbers behind Twitter users, based on available information online.

Each month I take a cursory look into the top couple of hundred social media sites to see if consumer brands are making any inroads. And each month nothing surprises, as not much really changes.

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The one thing it does reinforce is that the most popular sport in the world is, and always will be, people watching. It seems our fascination with celebrity is insatiable. And it’s why social media will primarily be a social channel rather than a business channel for consumer brands.

Instagram is not as easy to categorise as Facebook or Twitter, as there are accounts that are not always easy to define. Some describe themselves as actors and models, or actors and musicians, or TV stars and models, so I may have put one or two in categories that don’t represent their primary skill – so to speak.

Here’s the most recent summary of the Top 100 Instagram accounts. The only international consumer brand is Victoria Secrets – which I suspect has lots of young male followers who aren’t really customers. There is also a huge bias to American accounts.

The training videos refer to bloggers of nail polish and make-up application lessons. The top account in Instagram is Instagram itself with 65+ million followers, while the second highest is Justin Bieber with 23+ million. The 100th account has 4+ million followers:

  • Musicians – 28
  • Actors – 18
  • Vacuous celebrities – 13
  • Models – 11
  • Sportspeople – 9
  • Sports clubs/brands – 7
  • Social media brands – 4
  • Fashion retailers – 4
  • Training videos – 3
  • Magazines – 2
  • TV Shows – 1

Here’s the latest list of Top 100 Facebook accounts. The top 3 accounts are Facebook accounts with 534 million+ down to 161 million+ followers. The next is Cristiano Rinaldo with 102 million+, while the 100th account is the TV show The Big Bang Theory with 32 million+ followers.

Interestingly there are two accounts of dead people – Michael Jackson and Bob Marley. And Bob died before the internet was invented.

There are only 7 consumer brands in the Top 100 – apart from Red Bull, they are all American global brands that have spent $millions on their accounts: McDonald’s, KFC, Oreo, Pepsi, Starbucks, Walmart and Red Bull.

  • Musicians – 39
  • TV Shows – 13
  • Sportspeople – 9
  • Intanet/social media brands – 8
  • Actors/Celebrities – 9
  • Movies – 8
  • Consumer brands – 7
  • Sports clubs/brands – 6
  • Politicians – 1

Here’s links to the Instagram and Facebook resources.

The concern of course, is for the future of marketing. Global brands have a collective marketing budget of $billions and thousands of degree-qualified marketing staff to do their bidding. Yet only 7 brands are in the Top 100 FB accounts and handful of lingerie/fashion brands are in the Top 100 Instagram accounts.

Yet the musicians, celebrities, actors, models and the like, generally have minimal marketing budgets, a PR Manager and maybe a handful of marketing staff. But they dominate the Top 100 social media accounts.


If they can dominate the social media space with comparatively minimal marketing support – what does it say about the skills required for the future marketer? After all, you can fail Year 10 at high school and easily be a social media manager – there are no skills/qualifications required to Tweet or post images to a social site.

Social media management continues to be the new industrial age job function – unskilled labour, doing mindless repetitive tasks at a machine – tweet, retweet, hashtag, upload, Like, tweet, retweet, hashtag, upload, Like, repeat infinitum…

unskilled labor dominates social media employment…

I’m off to teach advertising strategy at university tonight – might have to revise the notes…



  1. Evening Malcolm.

    I had this thought while reading – The celebrities are almost always promoting a brand they have an association with or are sponsored by.

    So it might be that brands are being promoted surreptitiously in the top 100 moving their marketing budget to “sponsorship” instead.

    Best regards,


    Glenn Edley Managing Director | Spike 021 777 407


    • Thanks Glenn, I suspect marketers are paying individuals to promote their products, or sponsoring individual’s own activity. celebrity brands don’t have to spend as much promoting themselves as they and their actions are their brand advertisement, so to speak. And if they can build a following then reaching those fans is relatively cheap. If only marketers could make customers as fanatical as celebrity fans they’d be able to spend less too:)

  2. Yes Kym and even more worrying was one of my uni students the other night said students just want to “seize a degree” – which means getting a piece of paper with a minimal amount of study/work effort and very little learning.

  3. Hey Mal. There’s a thought. After 40 years in marketing I’ve always wanted a degree. Maybe I could seize one in Content Marketing…

  4. Malcolm,
    Thought-provoking post as always…especially your points about the future of marketing. I wonder when, indeed if, the issue of measurable, bankable results will ever be considered! Having ignored the importance of results for so long, I guess it won’t be surprising if mainstream marketing types find themselves displaced by newer, hipper and cheaper social media “experts”.
    The real problem lies with senior management, of course, but we’ve been having this discussion for a while and most likely will continue to do so!
    Thanks again for the post.

  5. Your comments confirm my long held scepticism of the effectiveness of social media as a driver of sales. Especially for high cost/high value products. I still believe in picking up the phone and talking to people…

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