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Surfwear brands Quiksilver, Billabong and Rip Curl all made the top 20 accounts by followers.

Retailers Showpo, Lorna Jane and Cotton On are among Australia’s top Instagram accounts when it comes to both the number of followers and engagement.

Australia’s First Instagram Performance Report, compiled by Online Circle Digital, is a comprehensive survey of Australian brands on Instagram. The report tracked the performance of 300 Australian brands and influencers, including Australia’s top Instagram users, across 12 industries.

The results reveal the top 20 Instagram accounts in Australia by followers and the top 20 Instagram handles by engagement.

 Surfwear brands Quiksilver, Billabong and Rip Curl all made the top 20 accounts by followers.

But it’s not just brands making the cut, with Online Circle Digital’s lists also including plenty of “influencers” or individuals with large and engaged followings.

“If you go to the top 10, four are brands, everyone else is influencers,” Lucio Ribeiro, lead strategist at Online Circle Digital, told SmartCompany .

“It’s not that brands are doing bad but that influencers are doing excellent,” he says.

Ribeiro says businesses can learn from the example of the number one performer: @Australia, Tourism Australia’s handle.

“It’s a great example of what should be done. It really transports users to another place. (It is) content that’s mobile friendly, and full of really beautiful shots,” he says.

Ribeiro says the AFL is also kicking goals on Instagram.

“It is doing really well to get number 18 on followers and 12 on engagement,” he says.

“It shows it’s not just building an audience but interacting with their audience.”

Ribeiro says the data in the report confirms a lot of “gut feelings” about those who perform best on Instagram.

“That actually online influencers are the big powers on Instagram right now,” he says.

“These guys reach hundreds of thousands of people each day, becoming in their own right a publishing house.”

Ribeiro says the report found the heaviest hitters on the platform tend to be brands in the food, health and wellbeing, and fashion industries.

“Everything highly visual is doing exponentially better,” he says.

Ribeiro says the report also highlights the importance of “personal touch” on the photo-sharing platform.

“Every time there is an element of personal touch, it does better,” he says.

“Every post that makes the user smile does better.”

Ribeiro says he believes the results support the turn of phrase that “any content that transports users to another place will do well”.

“Content that takes me away from my reality to another reality does really, really well,” he says.

For small business, the report reveals “massive opportunity”, Ribeiro says.

“(Instagram is) almost an equal playing field.”

He says small business have the advantage over big business of doing things fast when it came to social media.

“Big brands need to go through lawyers, brand managers and to get approval,” he says.

Ribeiro says small business also had the opportunity to do “personal touch” better.

“Small business has this thing, every small business is personal. It’s easy to translate the offline world into online.”

Ribeiro’s lessons for SMEs using Instagram:

1. “Tell your story with pictures, it feels like it's logical but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do that.

2. “Make content that makes the users feel something. If it is funny or emotional it will resonate.”

3. “Dedicate some time for hashtag research. It moves a lot of content on Instagram, can maximise exposure for content.”

4. “Depending on which industry you are in, put a face to the name.”

5. “Make content that’s mobile friendly.”

6. “I would add, just try a bit of different advertising. You can buy advertising, it doesn’t need to be much but invest some money in advertising.”

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