Photo-sharing site Instagram has now become the top channel for influencer marketing, according to recent data from social media analytics and intelligence platform Klear.

Using the #ad or #sponsored hashtag now mandated by the Federal Trade Commission to identify influencer-endorsed posts, Klear in January reported that the number of posts on Instagram sponsored by influencers nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017 to account for more than 1.5 million posts worldwide last year.

Volume of #Ad Posts on Instagram

Klear’s findings, which were published in its “The State of Influencer Marketing 2018 Report,” claims that the total use of influencers in online marketing campaigns grew by 198 percent in 2017, with consistent month-over-month average growth of five percent. The report revealed that influencer-sponsored Instagram posts generated about one billion total “likes” globally last year, averaging about 682 “likes” per post.

Klear’s data also found that young people and women overwhelmingly comprise the majority of Instagram’s influencer economy, with nearly 84 percent of #ad posts in 2017 coming from women, and three-fourths of those posts coming from influencers between 18 and 34 years of age.

When it comes to what sectors are now leveraging influencers the most to raise brand awareness and drive engagement, Klear’s report claims the number-one spot currently goes to the fashion and accessories industry, followed by beauty and cosmetics, food/beverage, automotive and consumer electronics. Travel, entertainment, retail, tech and fitness/wellness rounded out the top ten, respectively.

January estimates by digital market research company eMarketer found that Instagram, which now counts about 594 million regular total users, is quickly catching up with Facebook in terms of becoming the leading social platform, and now accounts for nearly a quarter — 24 percent — of all social network users worldwide.