The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Analytics

Do you want to grow your account, but struggle with Instagram Analytics? You’re not alone! Instagram Analytics are key to understanding your demographic, optimizing your content, and evaluating your overall performance, but all of the different metrics and terms can be overwhelming. 

In the Ultimate Guide to Instagram Analytics, we walk you through the ins and outs of your Instagram Analytics, what each metric means, and how you can use this knowledge to improve your business’ content: 

instagram analytics

Why do Instagram Analytics matter?

Diving into your Instagram Analytics is more than just finding out which photo, video, or story performed best. Truly understanding how your content performs – by tracking key metrics over time – is invaluable to developing a robust content strategy for Instagram. You should know not only how similar content performs, but also how particular content buckets perform against each other.

For example, if you’re running an Instagram account for an online ecommerce store, you may want to investigate how different product photos perform against each other. You might have some product photos on a white background, some on a dark background, and others out in nature or the city. By using engagement data such as likes, comments, or clicks, you’ll be able to tell which type of product shots perform best so you know what you should be posting more of.

From here, you can then compare all product shots against, say, lifestyle content to determine which your audience prefers. If you find that your audience is more interested in product content, you may decide to invest more heavily in product photoshoots and scale back on the lifestyle photoshoots.

Whatever category your Instagram account falls into, delving into your Instagram analytics allows you to understand your audience’s wants, improves your content, and ultimately: drives more traffic and sales!

How to understand your audience through Instagram Analytics

Before investigating content performance and truly understanding why certain content outperforms others, it’s important to start with your demographics. Knowing where your audience lives, how old they are, and when they’re most frequently engaging with your content affects even the smallest adjustments to your content strategy. Luckily, native Instagram Analytics makes discovering this information very simple, and you can access it right from your app! 

Let’s break down the demographic data:

Gender and Age Range

From the top, Instagram offers basic demographic information about your current audience including gender and age breakdowns. Not only is it simply good to know who you’re talking to daily, but you can use this breakdown to adjust the types of content you post and when. For example, if your audience skews younger, you may want to post more frequently to align with frequency of phone use or you could test how memes or pop culture references perform, rather than posting strictly informational content.

Top Locations

Like the gender and age range charts, knowing your audience’s location can help you improve your posting schedule and the content itself. While you may see a large portion of your audience is located in English speaking cities or countries, if you also have a sizeable audience in non-English locations, you might consider adjusting your content strategy to be less copy heavy for broader understanding. By viewing your top cities, you’re also able to learn what time zones most of your users are in, which can help you find your best time to post on Instagram.

Hours vs. Days

Beyond audience demos, Instagram also offers information around when your audience is most frequently engaging with your content. You can toggle between the Hours and Days views, each presenting topline information around your engagement. This data is especially handy when determining what time of day to post and which day sees the highest engagement. You may find engagement is roughly the same across weekdays, but maybe you’ll typically see a higher uptick on weekend engagement, which could be an opportunity to save your best or most important content for the weekends when your audience may have more time to view it. That’s just one example of how free Instagram analytics can impact your bottom line!

What’s the difference between impressions, reach, engagements, etc. in Instagram Analytics?

Now that you’re ready to dive into Instagram Analytics and make an incredible Instagram content strategy, it’s time to learn about each metric and what they mean. One metric might be better than the next for your business — and we’ll get there soon — but let’s start with the basic definitions.

instagram analytics

Impressions

Impressions are the total number of times your photo, video, or story has been seen. This number includes users scrolling by in their feed, clicking through your business’ profile to view a photo, or viewing content directly through an Instagram DM.

Reach

Like impressions, reach also shows the total number of views but rather than calculate it by total eyes on your content, it narrows it down unique users’ views only. On Instagram, these metrics will likely be very similar due to Instagram’s lack of in-platform public sharing functionality — that is, you’ll typically only see a unique post one time.

Engagements

This is the total number of unique accounts that have liked, commented, and saved a particular photo or video. Note that it won’t count multiple comments from the same user, which could happen in the case of giveaways where users tend to post multiple times to better their chances.

Engagement Rate

Engagement rate is the percentage of followers or viewers that engage with your posts. Generally, if you want to calculate your average engagement rate for Instagram, you would divide the number of likes and comments by your follower count, which will give you a percentage.

You can view your average number of likes and comments per Instagram post with the free Instagram Analytics offered in Later, the #1 marketing platform for Instagram. Add the average number of likes and comments together, say it’s 1000, and then divide by your followers, like 10,000, which gives you .1, then multiply by 100 to get your percentage, which would be 10%. That’s your average engagement rate! 

Follower Growth

The native Instagram Analytics in the app will tell you how many new followers you gained this week, but it doesn’t allow you to view your follower growth over time. Follower growth is how many followers you have gained or lost in a certain amount of time, which is important for understanding how quickly (or slowly) your account is growing.

With Later’s Pro Instagram Analytics, you can monitor your follower growth of all of your Instagram accounts for the last 3 months.

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Breaking metrics down between photos, videos, and Instagram Stories

For the most part, many metrics are calculated in the same way whether you’re talking about Instagram photos, videos, or stories, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily compare one type of content to another. Ultimately, the user experience of each type of content differs and so should your approach to analyzing your content performance.

Photos vs. Videos

While both photos and videos appear within a user’s individual feed, the way a user interacts with each type of content is vastly different and this directly affects performance. Think of it this way — as you scroll through the feed, you can pretty quickly determine if you like a photo and subsequently “like” the photo. With video, you have to take a moment for the content to load and to watch at least some portion of it to see if it interests you. By this point, you may forget to double tap at all and simply continue strolling. This difference between experience is exactly why you tend to receive fewer likes on videos than photos.

So if you can’t count on likes to help note video performance, what can you look to? Enter views. Now, views are calculated differently from platform to platform and this incredible spreadsheet from Andréa López covers all that and more. But on Instagram, a view is counted after 3 seconds and is the same whether the video is 30 seconds long, a Boomerang gif, or a Hyperlapse video.

Instagram Stories

Compared to videos and photos, Instagram Stories require more active engagement by users. A user must tap into your business’ story at the top of the feed to engage with the content and from here they can watch it in full, tap through, or swipe out of Stories completely. So in addition to impressions and reach, you can also uncover your Stories’ exits and replies.

instagram analytics

Exits

Exits are the number of times an individual has swiped out of your Story. Of course, this isn’t always a negative thing — it could mean that your Story has concluded and the user has moved onto the next Story in their feed or if you included a hyperlink, they’ve clicked out to learn more. However, this metric can be incredibly telling and show where in your overall Story you need to improve and retain users until completion.

Replies

Similar to engagements for photos and videos, replies are the number of times an individual has directly responded to a portion of your Story. But unlike comments on a photo or video, these responses end up in your inbox and don’t appear publicly.

Selecting KPIs for your Instagram strategy

Now that you’re familiar with all the different metrics offered by Instagram Analytics and other free Instagram analytics tools, it’s time to go a step further and determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A KPI is your selected metric that specifically measures the success of your content or campaign. How you determine your KPIs will ultimately depend on your business goals and what you want to achieve with Instagram.

If your business thrives on community, you may want to look to engagements as your KPI for photos and videos. However, if you boost an individual post, you may want to switch that KPI up and focus on reach to see what kind of impact your content has made on the Instagram community as a whole. Or, if you end up running a giveaway and require comments to enter, looking at comments as your KPI may be a great choice in determining a contest’s performance. You could then use this metric as a way to compare the success of your contests moving forward, by seeing which contest got the most comments. Whatever your KPIs, ideally you should focus on certain ones for evergreen content and select different ones on a campaign by campaign basis. It comes down to your overall business goals!

Using Instagram Analytics to improve your content strategy

Armed with your knowledge of different metrics and your Instagram KPIs, you’re now ready to improve your content. And while it might be tempting to isolate individual pieces of content and declare it a success or failure based on the KPI alone, it’s key to look at overall patterns and learnings. This prevents knee jerk reactions to content performance, which is always subject to influential outside forces such as holidays, busy news days, and more. 

However you approach Instagram Analytics, the most important thing to keep in mind that data is directional and never the be-all, end-all. Treating metrics as the singular answer to what a successful Instagram looks like can stifle your creativity — use these numbers instead as a way to confirm what your intuition tells you or guide your next move. So test out different KPIs, play around with your content strategy, and see what sticks. You may be surprised to see what works.

Track and measure your Instagram’s weekly and monthly growth, and discover which posts are driving the most engagement with Later’s Instagram Analytics! 

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Written By

Breanne Thomas

content strategist by day, filmmaker by night // available for freelance // previously @bigspaceship@foursquare@birchbox