SYDNEY: As Instagram breaks six million users in Australia, brands are lagging behind platform "influencers" in engaging local users.

In Australia's first-ever Instagram Performance Report, compiled by Online Circle Digital, data indicated that despite more brands jumping on the bandwagon, social media influencers with well-established fan bases are still getting more love from Australian Instagrammers.

According to B&T Magazine, six of the top ten most-followed accounts in Australia are "influencers" with number one Instagrammer, Kayla Itsena, commanding a fan base of more than 3.7m followers. Local surf clothing brand Quicksilver is the highest ranked brand in sixth place, with just under one million followers.

Surfwear brands perform the best for followers among retailers, with Hurley and Billabong also making the top ten.

Influencers command by far the largest amount of engagement for Australian users, with more than 92,000 average engagements. Retail surfwear brands, the second most engaging category, garner just 22,000 in average engagement – less than a quarter that of influencers.

The numbers indicate that for many Australian brands – particularly those outside of fashion retail – there may be more value in partnering with a top influencer to increase brand exposure rather than investing in an Instagram content strategy.

"Influencers are becoming the new superstars,” Lucio Ribeiro, Online Circle Digital lead strategist, told AdWeek's Social Times.

"There's a great opportunity for brands to select and connect with them to act as cultural megaphones."

Various iterations of Instagram's advertising features have been available to Australian advertisers for 12 months, with iconic Australian brand Vegemite among the first brands on board.

"With millions of Australians using the platform every day, Instagram can't be ignored as a viable communication channel for businesses," said Ribeiro.

Data sourced from B&T, Ad Week, Mashable; additional content by Warc staff