Mastering Instagram Analytics: A 5-Part Series
Instagram Analytics 101
Are you ready to kick your Instagram strategy into high gear?
By now you’ve likely perfected your feed’s aesthetic, mastered the art of hashtagging and maximized your tagging capabilities, but have you unlocked the full potential of Instagram Analytics?
From engagement rates to follower growth, activity spikes and more, there’s magic in these numbers, and if interpreted correctly, they have the power to translate into soaring sales for you and your business.
But tapping into the madness behind the metrics takes a bit of guidance, and I’m here to walk you through the process.
Thankfully, deciphering the who, what, where and how of your feed has never been easier thanks to the variety of analytics tools out there today.
From the metrics that matter most, the insights that drive change and the applications to facilitate the process, continue reading for a complete guide to Instagram Analytics.
What You'll Learn In My 5-Part Series
I’m kicking off this 5-part series today with a general introduction to Instagram Analytics. The rest of the series will cover the following subjects:
Part II: After covering the basics, I’ll explain how to use Instagram Analytics to identify beginner and intermediate-level insights, and show you how to leverage these insights to create a content strategy that drives higher ROI. I will also review the top Instagram analytics tools on the market today and guide you in choosing the best options for your account.
Part III: I’ll take analysis one step further, and leverage the powerful visualization software Tableau to draw even deeper Instagram insights.
Part IV: The fourth part of my series will be devoted to analytics for Instagram Ads and Stories.
Part V: Finally, I'll break down all the Instagram Analytics terms you'll ever need in a quick-reference glossary to bookmark.
Spotting Instagram Insights that Drive Growth
Instagram Analytics: Ads & Stories
Advanced Instagram Analysis using Tableau
Part I: Introduction to Instagram Analytics
1. Why analytics are important for Instagram success
With Instagram introducing new sub-channels such as Stories and IGTV, feeding the beast that is IG is a daily grind, especially for businesses that are short on time, dollars and staff.
Gaining a deeper understanding of your audience — the who, what and why of your followers and what drives their engagement — can dramatically boost your results, maximize your ROI and deliver insights that not only optimize your marketing strategy but your overall sales and merchandising tactics too.
By understanding and identifying key metrics and their impact on your strategy, over time, leveraging positive trends and patterns can lead to the exponential growth of your account.
What type of content engages best? When is your audience on Instagram? How often to post? And who makes up your audience (age, location, etc)?
The answers to these questions can minimize pain points in your marketing strategy, segment your audience further for increased targeting, unlock brand awareness like never before and so much more!
Let’s start by covering the basics of Instagram Analytics.
2. How to set up your account for Instagram Analytics
Have you unlocked Instagram Analytics by switching to a Business Instagram account?
If you haven’t switched over, then what are you waiting for?
Not only does switching allow you to take advantage of third-party scheduling tools, it also gives you insights into each of your posts going forward.
It’s important to make it clear that Instagram will not track analytics for your old posts — only of those posted after switching to your Business account.
I’ve already covered the overarching benefits so follow these simple steps to see your feed’s true performance.
How to Convert My Instagram Account to a Business Profile (source: Instagram.com):
Go to your profile and tap (iPhone) or (Android) in the top-right corner.
Tap Sign up for a Business Profile.
Tap Create New Account or Convert Existing Account.
(Optional) If you want to connect your account to an existing Facebook Page, you can, but it's not required. If you plan on using third party apps with your Instagram Business Profile, you'll need to connect it to a Facebook Page.
Make sure your profile is set to Public. Private accounts can't switch to Business Accounts.
On the Set Up Your Business Profile page, review your business's contact information, make any changes and tap Done.
3. An overview of Instagram Analytics
Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
As I mentioned above, Instagram starts tracking your feed's analytics as soon as you switch to a Business account and provides access to Instagram insights across all your IG "channels": posts, stories, IGTV and advertising.
Note: It is best to access analytics after posting a few photos following your switch to Business. This will give you a better idea of this tool's potential.
To begin, tap on the analytics icon (bar chart icon) in the top bar of the app to access Instagram’s native Instagram dashboard.
Upon accessing Instagram Analytics, you’ll be welcomed with a 3-pane analytics interface which breaks down your:
A - Activity Dashboard
Instagram Analytics' Activity dashboard provides you with details about your followers’ Interactions and your account’s Discovery (aka reach, and impressions). Here you’ll learn more about how your existing and potential followers are interacting with your content, whether they're visiting your profile, clicking your website or email link; and how many users view your content over the past week.
The Interactions section begins by breaking down the number of daily actions taken on your account in an easy-to-read bar chart — giving you insights on which days deliver the most engagement, and therefore indicating when would be best to schedule your content.
Similarly, the Discovery section breaks down your account’s reach by day for the past week. It also provides a summary of your:
Reach: the number of unique accounts that viewed your profile, and the change (positive or negative) compared to the previous week. This indicates your follower growth over the last week.
Impressions: the total number of times that all of your posts have been seen that week, and the change in impressions (positive or negative) when compared to the previous week. An impression is counted every time a user views your content, whether they’re just scrolling through their feed, receiving a direct message from a friend or visiting your profile to view a specific post.
In Part II of my guide, I’ll discuss how to utilize these analytics to draw insights and make changes to your Instagram strategy.
B - Content Dashboard
From your Feed posts to Instagram Stories, and promotional content (ads), the Content dashboard is where you’ll see which of your posts are performing best.
For the purpose of staying on course, I will focus on Feed Posts analytics for now, but stay tuned for a complete breakdown of Instagram ads/promotions and Stories analytics!
At the top of the Content Dashboard you’ll be able to see how many posts you’ve shared to your feed in the last week, with a handy indicator showing you either an increase or decline in content deployment.
Below, you’ll then find a summary of the impressions generated for each of your last six posts. You then have the option of tapping on “See all” (top right) to uncover even more information about your posts.
Here, you’ll be able to sort your posts according to the selected criteria at the top of the pane. By tapping on either “ALL”, “1 year,” or “Impressions” at the top of the pane, you'll be able to filter your results according to:
Content type: All, photos, videos, carousel posts or shopping posts
Engagement: Website clicks, calls, comments, emails, engagement, follows, get directions, impressions, likes, profile visits, reach, Saved posts, outbound clicks, product opens or texts.
Time period: 7 days, 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 1 years or 2 years
Once you’ve selected your criteria, click Apply to see your top performing post.
This function is extremely useful when analyzing which type of content performs best, attracts comments, goes viral or encourages users to take specific actions. More on this to come in the second part of my series!
C - Audience Dashboard
The Audience dashboard is where you’ll learn about who and where your followers are.
This Instagram Analytics view welcomes you with your total number of followers and indicates whether that total has either increased or decreased in the last week.
Next, Instagram provides you with a breakdown of where your audience is located— followers AND non-followers! You can opt to view the location break down either by Cities or Countries.
This simple bar chart can help you decide when (time-zone) to schedule your content and can also affect decisions regarding influencer selection, product tagging currency, caption languages and more.
Similarly, Instagram provides you with a histogram of your followers’ age distribution. Feel free to dial into this graph by toggling between “all” age ranges and those of your male and female followers by tapping “men” or “women.”
The audience dashboard also provides an overview of your followers’ gender split. This easy-to-read pie chart allows you to quickly determine the percentage of men and women who make up your followers.
Finally, the last chart of this view provides detailed, hourly information about your followers’ activity. The Follower breakdown allows you to toggle between engagement by day and by 3-hour time frame. This can further help you identify spikes in traffic and influence your best posting times. Toggle between hours and days to pick out deeper shades of blue — this indicates a greater spike in follower activity.
Whether you’re approaching 50K followers or just trying to reach your first 1K, there’s no denying that an informed Instagram strategy sets you on the path to faster growth.
If you’re a retailer or a shop, not only does learning what drives engagement and growth inform your posting strategy, it could potentially influence your sales strategy, merchandising and more.
While it may seem daunting at first, crunching the numbers leads to better understanding of your presence online and your customers, allowing you to deliver as customized of an experience as possible.