NEW YORK: National Geographic is the most engaged brand on social media, thanks largely to its astute use of Instagram, according to Shareablee.

The insight provider's Top 25 Social US Brands report for the third quarter gave the publisher a 27% share of voice which once again put it at the top of the rankings, a position it has occupied all this year and last.

"Not only has National Geographic maintained its social lead, it's pulling away," said Shareablee.

The number of actions – likes, comments, shares, retweets, favourites – it generated on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the third quarter totalled 482.5m, far ahead of the second-placed NFL on 125.6m. Sporting bodies also took the next three spots: WWE (87.8m), NBA (82.9m) and MLB (72.7m).

Over the first three quarters, National Geographic has now generated more than 1.15bn actions, nearly twice as many as the whole of 2014 (579m), and is on target to pass 1.5bn actions by the end of the year.

Nearly all of this engagement – 96% in Q3 – is coming from Instagram, where, Shareablee reported, the publisher is adding followers at the rate of 82,000 every day.

The primary reason it has been able to do this is through the use of its global network of photographers. For example, it had three different photographers in three different locations take three different pictures of the "blood moon" which took place in September.

The resulting images generated the most actions of any National Geographic post this year.

Overall, the Q3 rankings showed a 24% increase in social engagement compared to the same period a year earlier.

This was driven by a 58% rise in social video posts which in turn drove a 77% increased in social video actions.

US brands captured a total of 19.8bn social actions with Instagram generating the most, at 10.4bn, Facebook was second on 8.6bn while Twitter lagged on 840m.

Data sourced from Shareablee; additional content by Warc staff