One of the most popular hashtags on Instagram is #fitspiration, which users add to photos motivating others to work out or eat healthily. While millennials frequently credit #fitspiration with helping banish excess weight or tone their abs, the hashtag could also help fashion and beauty brands strengthen declining Instagram engagement.

The fashion and beauty industries continue to see rapid growth in community size on Instagram. In Q2, fashion brand communities grew 27% and those of beauty brands expanded by 30%. However, engagement rates are falling, according to L2’s Insight Report: Instagram Fashion & Beauty. Of the nine industries observed in the cross-category Instagram Intelligence Report, Fashion and Beauty were two of the three with the least engagement.

Instagram engagement by industry

Fashion and beauty brands – particularly Beauty – are using user-generated content to boost engagement. More than 40% of brands in L2’s latest Instagram Intelligence Report that streamed user-generated content from Instagram to an on-site gallery were in the beauty category. Beauty brands also accounted for three out of five brands to include user-generated content in every product page. Meanwhile, a handful of fashion brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera and Vineyard Vines are capitalizing on organic brand mentions, using that enthusiasm to build a following.

Brand mentions vs. direct followers

A lifestyle hashtag (like #fitspiration) is where the beauty and fashion industries can learn from Sportswear. The category has a 29% engagement rate, bested only by auto and consumer electronics. A large part of that user engagement stems from fans’ interest in a healthier lifestyle, which savvy sportswear brands (Nike, Lululemon, Adidas) have aligned with. A scroll through Instagram reveals that many of the 5 million+ posts also contain brand hashtags.

So far, the Beauty category’s strategy on Instagram seems to be celebrity partnerships, which have had mixed results. Maybelline New York recently made Gigi Hadid the new face of the brand, but related posts did little to increase engagement for the brand’s Instagram account. Even Calvin Klein, which receives a nearly 80% higher engagement rate for posts about Kendall Jenner, doesn’t necessarily see a long-term increase in engagement: being a passionate fan of Jenner won’t necessarily make someone an equally vocal fan of Calvin Klein. Associating the brand with a lifestyle tag like #fitspiration will likely have broader appeal– and a larger effect on engagement.


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