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November 18, 2020 Last updated on December 3rd, 2020
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Do you find Instagram metrics intimidating or confusing?

You’re not alone. For a long time, I shied away from looking at my Instagram data.

I didn’t really know what I was looking at, and that led me to feel *more* confused and overwhelmed about my performance on Instagram and why certain things were/weren’t working.

But here’s the thing: knowing which Instagram metrics to monitor – and monitoring them regularly – is key to your success.

It’s the difference between slow, frustrating growth and clearly knowing what your audience wants and using this to your (and their!) advantage.

I could go on about the importance of Instagram analytics all day, which is why in this article I’m breaking them down metric by metric.

Keep reading for a closer look at the key Instagram metrics you need to know, where you can find them, and what they’re telling you.

importance-of-instagram-metrics-and where-to-find-them-h2

Why do Instagram metrics matter?

If you’ve ever wondered:

  1. What your audience wants, or
  2. How to never run out of good content ideas

Then I’m going to point you in the direction of your Instagram metrics.

This data is essential to help you learn more about what your audience likes (and what they don’t) so you can do more of what works.

Success leaves clues. If you keep a close eye on your Instagram analytics, you will learn what topics, themes and formats your audience enjoys the most.

And you can use this information to inform your content creation.

This is especially important if you feel like you’re always running out of good content ideas.

Because if you’re looking at your Instagram metrics on a regular basis, you won’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel when it comes to content.

Instead, you’ll be able to take past high performing posts, tweak them slightly and give them a new lease of life.

How often should you check Instagram metrics?

Let’s just say there’s almost no such thing as looking at your Instagram analytics too much.

Going inside your Instagram insights as regularly as you can is the best way to learn, optimize and improve your Instagram strategy.

However, if you’re looking for specific guidance then make sure you’re analyzing your Instagram metrics at least once per month.

For Instagram Stories, you’ll need to check insights at least twice per month.

This is because Story analytics disappear after 14 days, so if you want to keep track of which Stories are resonating best with your audience, put a bi-monthly reminder in your calendar.

Speaking of reminders in calendars…

… this is the best way to make sure you don’t let “check Instagram analytics” fall to the bottom of your to do list – or worse yet, fall off the to do list altogether.

Here are a few suggestions to make analyzing your Instagram metrics a consistent (and more enjoyable!) process:

  • Choose somewhere to note down your metrics on an ongoing basis – a simple Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet is great for this
  • Set dates with yourself to check-in with your metrics and analyze trending ideas/formats – you can do this by adding recurring reminders into your digital/physical calendar
  • Try to approach your Instagram metrics with this (positive) mindset: they are a source of content ideas and clues to help you better connect with your audience

Where to find Instagram metrics

Instagram Insights recently had an update, which means that things look a little different than before.

To locate your Instagram metrics, you can either click on the hamburger icon in the top right-hand side of your account or click the “Insights” button above your Instagram Highlights.

Click on “Insights” and this will take you to the main dashboard.

dashboard-insights

Under Overview you can see:

  • Accounts Reached
  • Content Interactions
  • Total Followers

And below this is the Content You Shared.

Unfortunately, Instagram Insights only shows you data from the last 7 days.

This is why using a dedicated analytics platform like Iconosquare is so valuable.

Inside Iconosquare you’re able to look at historical data – with certain metrics dating right back to the beginning of your Instagram account! This gives you a better understanding of how your growth and engagement has changed over time.

Jumping back to Instagram insights for a moment – the ones we’re going to focus on most in this article are Accounts Reached and Content Interactions.

The Total Followers section is useful insofar as it shows you some interesting demographic data and our audience’s most active times, however the really good stuff is found in the other sections.

So let’s first jump Accounts Reached, and the Instagram metrics you can find there.

Impressions & Reach

What’s the difference between Impressions and Reach you ask?

Impressions is the number of times your content is seen (which includes the same account viewing your content multiple times).

Reach is the number of individual accounts that view your content.

For this reason, Reach is a more significant number and it’s dictated by the size of your account and the hashtags you use.

This is why strategic Instagram hashtags are really important. Hashtags help to push your content further – but only if they’re targeted.

hashtags

That means avoiding popular hashtags like #foodphotography (66m posts are using this hashtag) and instead choosing more hashtags like #foodphotographytips (21k) or #foodphotographyprops (51k).

When you use more specific hashtags like the latter two, it means that your content is competing against far fewer photos and videos…

… which gives your content a better chance of reaching more people and achieving great engagement.

Bonus tip 👉 Currently, many Instagram accounts are experiencing big reach thanks to Instagram Reels. So, if you’ve seen a dip in your engagement or reach lately, why not try creating some Reels?

Taking a look at your Impressions and Reach under Accounts Reached is one way of tracking your performance.

accounts-reached

Another useful way of doing this is by looking at your insights at a post level.

Go to your most recent Instagram post and click on the blue text: View Insights.

If you pull the metrics upwards with your finger, you’ll get a detailed look at how that post has performed.

post-insights

Under Discovery, it will say how many accounts you’ve reached and what percentage of those accounts weren’t following you.

With every post, you want to try to increase that number.

Below Impressions, you’ll see how many Impressions have come from Home, Hashtags, Explore and Other.

If you notice that the number of impressions you’re getting from Hashtags is very low (or lower than your last post), it might be time for some fresh hashtag research.

Profile Visits

The next metric to look at is Profile Visits, which tells you how many people have viewed your account in the last week.

This Instagram metric tells you how many people find your posts compelling enough to click to your profile, and whether or not your calls to action are working.

This bigger your Reach, the higher your Profile Visits are likely to be.

So, if you’ve fallen out of the swing of sharing content lately, this might be why your Profile Visits are down.

Website Taps

Ahh, the holy grail of Instagram metrics!

But seriously. If you keep an eye on this metric and see it increase week-on-week then your content strategy is working.

I say that because it takes a lot for people to leave Instagram and visit a third-party website.

Most users prefer to stay inside of Instagram, scrolling, swiping and engaging with the content they enjoy.

So for people to click on the link in your bio and take a look at your website, application form or appointment scheduler is a huge step!

To better understand exactly what kind of content is driving people to take this action, be sure to filter your content insights (which you can do inside Content Interactions) by “Website Taps”.

Email Button Taps

In addition to Website Taps, increasing your Email Button Taps week-on-week means your content is compelling enough to encourage people to get in touch.

Make sure you’ve got the email button enabled in your account settings and that the email address is the correct one (it’s always wise to double check!).

Saves

Now we get to the good stuff: The active forms of engagement that help you learn about what your audience wants  – and what they don’t.

These metrics are:

  • Saves
  • Shares
  • Comments

First, head to the Content Interactions section of your Insights, scroll down to Top Posts and click on See All.

content-interactions

This will bring up all of the main-feed posts you’ve shared since you started your account.

Now, filter by Saves.

saves

Saves are a key Instagram metric to monitor because they tell you what content your audience finds valuable enough to want to reference later.

Typically this content is educational or informative. For example, a “how to”, tutorial, step-by-step or tips & tricks-style post.

This bite-sized, value-packed content is best illustrated using text graphics, Reels or IGTVs.

For example, this tips carousel post from @wetheurban.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by WE THE URBAN (@wetheurban)

Or this illustrated “how to” graphic, from @justgirlproject.

Shares

Staying on Top Posts for now, the next filter you want to select is Shares.

This Instagram metric will tell you which of your content has resonated with your followers so much so that they want to share it with their friends, family and followers.

Much like Saves, generating Shares on a post is a big deal.

It means that your post has struck a chord with someone. Usually this is because the post is:

  • Relatable
  • Humorous
  • Controversial
  • Inspirational / aspirational

If you’re not seeing many (or any) saves on your content, then ask yourself whether you’re creating truly shareable Instagram content.

So-so content doesn’t get shared.

For example, generic “You’ve got this!” or “Just do it!” quotes have been shared a million times before, so don’t waste your energy on recreating those.

Instead share your unique point of view, thoughts and words of wisdom through bold text graphics that make people laugh, or stop and say: “Wow, they’ve taken the words right out of my mouth.”

For example, this humorous Reel aimed at new moms from @karrie_locher.

Or this controversial post from @lizwhite.co.

Comments

The next important Instagram metric to keep an eye on is Comments.

Community is built in the comments section – that’s where conversations take place and relationships blossom…

… and that’s why it’s such a key measure of your success.

Wondering how you can increase comments on your content?

  1. Think about how you want your readers to feel when drafting your captions and make sure they are purposeful – i.e. personal, promotional, educational or inspirational
  2. Always include a call to action (CTA) in your captions. For example, comment below, drop an emoji, share your thoughts, fill in the blank, tag a friend
  3. Make sure that 90% of the time, the CTA is keeping engagement on your content and 10% of the time, the CTA is sending people to the link in your bio. If you’re always sending people away from your content to “check out the link in your bio”, you will never generate many comments
  4. Share stories that people can relate to. Highs, lows, lessons learned, milestones reached, mistakes you’ve made – all of these are posts you can share to show the more human side of your account. Humanizing your brand will encourage people who’ve experienced similar things to connect with you in the comments section

Follows

Now, there’s a couple of different places you can keep an eye on follower growth.

The first is in Total Followers (in the Overview section).

Here you can view your Follower Breakdown over the last week and see the overall % increase or decrease.

There are some additional demographic stats here, like location, age and gender breakdown and the days/times your followers are most active.

This information is interesting – to a point.

However, rather than obsessing too much over your follower count, instead focus on the content that is generating you follows.

This information can be found back inside Content Interactions > Top Posts. This time, filter by Follows.

Now you’ll see which content of yours is making people want to stick around for the long haul.

By hitting that “follow” button, people have moved from stranger to cold lead.

They are now in your world and ready to hear more from you.🙌🙌

So, take note of which content is actively working to grow your audience and find a way to repurpose them!

Stories: Replies & Reach

First things first: Don’t forget that Instagram Stories analytics disappear after 14 days.

This means that you need to check these Insights more frequently than your main-feed content.

But which metrics should you actually look at?

Using Instagram’s in-built Insights, I recommend focusing on just two key metrics: Reach and Replies.

reach

Reach: This Instagram metric tells you how many individual accounts your Stories have reached. This is cool information, but what’s even cooler is how we can use this data to figure out another metric…

Retention rate.

Retention rate tells you what overall % of people watched your Story from beginning to end.

It’s an indicator of how engaging your Stories are and how invested your community is in what you have to say.

Here’s how you can use your Reach metrics to calculate Retention Rate (as this metric isn’t automatically calculated inside Instagram Insights):

Reach # of the final Story slide x 100

÷

Reach # of the first Story slide

Let’s use one of my recent Stories as an example.

142 x 100

÷

186

=

76%

There isn’t one retention rate “industry standard” to measure yourself by.

Instead, use your last retention rate figure as the benchmark to improve upon.

And, if you’re wondering how you can increase this number, make sure you are creating and sharing Instagram Stories with a clear beginning, middle and end that will keep people hooked throughout.

Replies: This Instagram metric tells you which of your Stories are sparking conversation and debate.

Anything that gets your followers taking action (i.e. sending you a DM) is a positive sign that you’re building relationships with people and that your content is resonating with them.

Personal Instagram Stories (e.g. FAQs, get to know me, day-in-the-life, meet the team) and/or controversial Instagram Stories (e.g. sharing your opinion on your industry, busting myths) tend to generate replies.

But keep an eye on your Instagram Insights so you know which of your Instagram Stories are best at driving Replies.

👉 Psst: Iconosquare offers some juicier Instagram Stories insights than those available on Instagram, so keep reading to find out more. 😉

Instagram Reels metrics

Where can you find Reels metrics you ask?

Unfortunately right now there aren’t any robust metrics to look at beyond the views, comments and likes you can see on your Reels and the Reels of others.

However, they will definitely roll out at some point in the future.

In the meantime, keep an eye on those three metrics to understand which of your Reels are performing best – and replicate the topic/style for your next Reel (using different information).

Deeper insight with Iconosquare

While you can get a good level of insight from Instagram itself, nothing beats using a dedicated analytics platform that understands the importance of Instagram metrics to keep track of your growth and performance over time.

That’s where Iconosquare comes in.

And, one of the great things about Iconosquare is the custom dashboard you can create.

Drag and drop a wide variety of Instagram analytics from the right-hand side (e.g. average engagement rate per post, comments history, best time to post) and hit save.

iconosquare-dashboard

Now, the metrics that matter most to you are easily accessible and kept up-to-date all in one place.

Here’s a couple of cool things you can track inside Iconosquare.

Engagement on reach

This metric is calculated by taking the total engagement (likes, comments, saves) of a given post, and dividing that by the total reach it achieved.

Rather than calculating engagement rate based on the total number of impressions (which includes one account seeing the same piece of content multiple times), engagement on reach is calculated using only the number of people who were reached.

This leaves us with a much more accurate metric.

In this example, it looks like the average post achieves an engagement rate of 10.85% but an average engagement on reach rate of 1,317.60%. This is because the average post reaches less people than the total number of followers the account has.

Instagram Stories analytics

Currently, Iconosquare is the only platform that offers analytics on Stories, which you can find inside the Analytics → Stories tab.

So if you’d rather get an overview of the key Stories metrics (impressions and reach, taps back/forward, number of exits, number of replies, and completion rate on each Story) without having to figure them out yourself, sign up to a 14-day free trial of Iconosquare.

Conclusion

Getting comfortable with Instagram analytics takes time and practice, but the more often you check them, the easier it will become.

And the sooner you get to grips with your analytics, the sooner you’ll learn exactly what your audience wants and increase your overall growth and engagement as a result.

Cheers to that! 🥂

CTA-iconosquare

About the author
Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell is a door obsessive and Instagram educator, teaching small businesses, solopreneurs and content creators how to build engaged communities on Instagram in less time. Read more from Bella on her website: bellafoxwell.com

More posts by Bella Foxwell

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