May 27, 2020 Last updated on December 3rd, 2020
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When was the last time you dug into the Insights section of your Instagram app?

Go on, you can be honest with me. Was it this week? Last week? A couple of months ago?

I get it. Not only are there a million and one other things on your to do list each day, but there are also a lot of different things to look at inside Instagram insights.

So, where do you start?

In this article, I’m going to break down the only metrics you need to monitor in 2020 to constantly improve and refine your results.

Because without regularly checking your Instagram insights, you won’t have a good handle on your content strategy or what’s resonating with your audience and what isn’t.

Let’s change that today.

The only Instagram metrics you need to monitor in 2020


Before I go any further, let’s first talk about how often you should be checking your Instagram insights (or analytics, as they’re also referred to as).

You should be tracking your metrics at least once, if not twice, a month.

You don’t want to wait more than four weeks to take stock of your content, understand what’s working and what isn’t, and then make changes. Four weeks is a long time on Instagram and a lot can change.

So, make sure you’re one step ahead and find somewhere to track your progress. That could be a notepad and pen or a Google Spreadsheet. As long as it’s somewhere you can easily and quickly reference.

Note: We won’t be talking about “likes”. Not only have likes been hidden for many countries around the world, but they’re also a passive form of engagement.

It doesn’t require much effort for somebody to double tap an image, and therefore isn’t a very helpful indicator of whether your content is resonating.

It’s better to keep a closer eye on the active forms of engagement, i.e. shares, comments, saves and website clicks.

Now, let’s look at those in more detail. First we’ll focus on main-feed content and then, Instagram Stories.

Of course I couldn’t talk about Instagram insights without also mentioning how easy it is to keep track of them using Iconosquare. Graphs display performance for follower evolution, average engagement per post, competitor analysis and hashtag tracking in a super digestible way. Sign up for a free 14-day trial now to really dig into your insights and start growing your reach and engagement rate!


The first Instagram metric you’re going to keep an eye on is comments.

Comments are a great indicator that your content has struck a nerve in some way, encouraging people to take time out of their scrolling to type out a message.

And they’re extremely valuable because they’re one of the ways you can start building relationships with people.

Many juicy conversations have taken place inside the comments section of an Instagram post!

It’s where you can get deeper with your target audience, answer their questions and get to know each other better.

So if people leave you a comment, even if it’s just a word or two, don’t leave them hanging!

Respond to them, ask them a follow up question, show them that you value the time they’ve spent engaging on your post.

You never know… they could be a potential customer or client!

What kind of content drives shares?

The kinds of content that generally drive comments are personal posts.

That doesn’t mean you have to pour your heart out on Instagram, but consider how you can pull back the curtain on your account and let people into your world.

That could be talking more about your journey, how you got started in business, the lessons you’ve learned and mistakes you’ve made, the milestones you’ve hit and your hopes for the future.

Getting personal in this way is incredibly relatable. Even if your experience is slightly different to your target audience, they’ll relate to your thoughts and feelings, and value your honesty.

Now, more than ever before, Instagram users are looking for brands and accounts they can relate to.

They’re not looking for anymore overly edited, aspirational content. They want real and raw.

In our article 7 Biggest Instagram Trends to Watch in 2020, we talked about the rise of the nano influencer in response to Instagram users wanting to connect with real people that share experiences they can empathize with. Not heavily edited images of exclusive spaces and scenarios.

Instagram is a social place, after all.

It’s where people spend a lot of time connecting with friends and family. So tap into that habit by sharing a little more of you and your story, and watch how that (positively) impacts your comments.


Ahhh, saves. My favourite Instagram metric to understand which of your posts are valuable enough for people to want to store permanently and reference later.


Instagram metrics on Iconosquare

Remember: lots of people use Instagram in a similar way to Pinterest.

They use it as a source of inspiration and information, saving posts into relevant Collections to come back to later.

No matter what your purpose is on Instagram – whether you’re a creative, an artist, a photographer, a product-based or service-based business owner – you don’t just want to be sharing content that shows off your work/skills.

Think about the small ways you can bring value to your target audience. The ways in which you can enrich their lives – making them happier, calmer, wealthier, more organised, more inspired, more confident… the list goes on.

This kind of value-driven content is going to encourage people to hit the save button.

What kind of content drives saves?

When we talk about value-driven content, we’re talking about helpful, educational content that solves a struggle for your ideal customer/client.

Some ideas include:

  • How to’s
  • Tips & tricks
  • Tutorials

Think about one of your ideal clients’ pain points. For example, one of mine (for my ideal client) would be: Not having the confidence to show up on Instagram Stories.

There’s lots of ways I could help to solve that struggle with a piece of educational content, for example this post right here.

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

Showing up on Instagram Stories regularly = an audience that hangs on your every WORD/MOVE/OFFER.⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🔥🔥🔥 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So you know how important Instagram Stories are. Everyone keeps going on and on and on about it.⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And… it’s the first place you hang out when you open up Instagram.⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ (And you know us humans, we’re alllllll [cue the Larry David voice>>] *pretty, pretty, pretty* similar)⁠ 🎥 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Gazillions of people are sitting there >> swippppinnggggg<< through every. dang. day, so you need to be there, interrupting your ideal customer’s habit with YOUR content.⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But what does that content look like?⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s all covered in the carousel above.⁠☝️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1) Personal: Really crucial to building emotional connections with your audience. Not to be neglected. YOU, your personality, your unique quirks will be the difference between your ideal customer choosing you over your similar competitor. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2) Authoritative: Essential to prove you know what you’re talking about. This kind of Story will position you as the trusted, go-to brand in your niche.⁠ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3) Educational: Vital to showing your audience that you are a FOUNTAIN of knowledge. The more you can help your audience for free, the more willing they’ll be to invest in your product/service when the time is right. ⁠ ⁠ Share these kinds of Story regularly & watch to see how many raving fans show up when you next talk about your exciting launch/product/service.⁠ 💰💰 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Swipe along for mini training, and let me know: what kind of Story are you committing to sharing more of in 2020?👇

Une publication partagée par Bella | Instagram strategist ✨ (@bellafoxwell) le

But if you’re a photographer, a jewellery maker, an artist or another business owner that doesn’t solve a struggle – don’t panic!

You can still create helpful, value-driven content that speaks to your target audience’s desire to feel good, stand out, relax, etc.

For example, a jewellery maker could create a carousel post about the 3 ways to style midi rings or the 5 best plant-based jewellery cleaning products.

Those are helpful, educational ideas that cater to the target audience’s desire to dress up and make a statement. And, keep their favourite pieces of jewellery sparkling clean.


The next Instagram metric you’re going to keep an eye on is shares.


 Shares aren’t currently tracked by any third-party application. This information is only available within Instagram Insights. 

The reason this metric is so valuable is because it has the potential to get lots of new eyeballs on your content.

When your content is shared it gets you in front of more people, some of whom may be your ideal customers and clients.

If they like what they see and the caption resonates with them, there’s a good chance they’ll check out your account and hit “follow”.

In this way, shareable content helps to fuel the very top of your sales funnel (brand awareness) without you having to do much work (besides creating the content!).

What kind of content drives shares?

So you’re wondering how to create this shareable content, right?

Well, to find out more, check out this article about how to improve your Instagram engagement rate, which goes in depth about how to create shareable and saveable content.

In the meantime, I’ll give you a quick summary:

Make it relatable

One way of creating incredibly shareable content is to make it relatable. That can be as simple as saying what your target audience is thinking or it can mean tapping into current events and cultural moments, like Covid-19.

Be polarizing

Content that appeals to everybody appeals to nobody. I bet you’ve heard that saying before.

If you want your content to inspire somewhere to hit share, then you need to take a stand on issues that matter to you – even if it turns some people off. As long as the content aligns to your values and beliefs, don’t worry that some people might not agree with your perspective (they’re likely not your target audience anyway).

Website clicks

Improving your Instagram engagement rate on the platform itself is important to focus on first, before directing people away to “check out the link in your bio”.

Why? Because Instagram users like to spend their time on the platform, swiping through Instagram Stories, browsing the Explore page, watching IGTV, chatting in the DMs.

It takes a lot to get them to stop what they’re doing, exit Instagram and visit an external website or application.

That being said, you should have a way for people to connect with you outside of Instagram.

A good marketing strategy has multiple touch points, so perhaps in your Instagram bio you’re pointing people to a Facebook group or your email list.

Be strategic about what you choose, as this will help to move people down your Instagram sales funnel. Make sure you’re not pointing to a broken link or a generic/confusing landing page.

And then, monitor your website clicks to see which posts (and Instagram Stories) are driving the most website clicks.

You will likely see a correlation between the posts that include a call-to-action like “check the link in my bio” and an increased number of website clicks.

But what’s more interesting, is when a post doesn’t include an explicit CTA directing people to the link in your bio, and yet it has a higher-than-usual number of website clicks.

Analyse posts like these to understand what may have encouraged someone to head to your bio to find out more about you/how to work with you.

It could be that the post was particularly helpful. Maybe it was more honest than usual. Whatever the reason, it’s something to consider for future content.

One of the cool things about Iconosquare is the custom dashboard you can create. Drag and drop a wide variety of metrics from the right-hand side (e.g. average engagement rate per post, comments history, best time to post) and hit save. Now, the metrics that matter most to you are easily accessible and kept up-to-date all in one place.

Metrics Dashboard on Iconosquare


The final Instagram metric we’re talking about in relation to main-feed posts is reach.


Reach metrics available on Iconosquare


Reach metrics available on Iconosquare

Reach refers to the number of unique Instagram accounts that looked at a piece of your content.

I recommend tracking your reach at the post level, so that you can see in real-time how well a piece of content is performing and, therefore, how well your hashtag strategy is performing.

This is because Instagram hashtags are essential to getting your content seen by more people.

Checking your reach regularly (i.e. 24-48 hours after a post goes live) means you can see whether the most recent set of hashtags you used were effective or not.

If you achieved a higher-than-usual reach, fantastic! That set of hashtags is a good one to use again.

If you achieved an average or lower-than-usual reach, it might be a good idea to play around with the hashtags you use next time.

Don’t wait to analyse your reach and hashtag strategy once a month.

Keep a close eye on it more regularly, so you can optimise your hashtag strategy and start improving your reach sooner rather than later.

Engagement on reach

Now that you have a clear idea of what your reach rate means, it’s also important to check up on your 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. It’s an important metric to compare to your global engagement rate as it’s often a lot more precise. 

Let me explain using the example below:

General engagement rate is calculated by taking your total number of followers, whereas engagement on reach rate is calculated using only the number of people who were reached (followers or not). This leaves us with a more accurate metric.

In this example, it looks like the average post achieves an engagement rate of 1.35% but an average engagement on reach rate of 3.08%. This is because the average post reaches less people than the total number of followers the account has.


This metric is exclusively available on Iconosquare

With main-feed posts covered, now let’s move onto the metrics you should monitor for Instagram Stories.

 Reminder: Check your Instagram Stories’ metrics at least once a week. This is because they disappear after 14 days. 

Instagram Stories: Retention rate

If you’re questioning whether you’ve gone mad because you don’t remember seeing retention rate as a metric inside Instagram insights, then don’t worry – it’s me, not you!

While retention rate isn’t something Instagram calculates for you, it is a metric you should be tracking and it’s super easy to work out.

First, you need to filter your most recent Stories content by Impressions.

Retention rate = the impressions of the last Story ÷ by the impressions of the first Story.

For example, 120 people start watching your Story and by the end, there are 62 people watching.

62/120 = 52% retention rate.

Retention rate is an indicator of how engaging your Story is as a whole. And a good retention rate is a signal to the Instagram algorithm that your content is valuable.

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. You’ll also discover the best time to post Stories for you in order to get the maximum reach, impressions, or completion rate.

How to create Stories that keep people watching?

If you want to work with the Instagram algorithm and get your Stories prioritised in the feed and Explore page, then you need to make sure your Stories keep people watching from beginning to end.

Like any good book or film, you want to make sure your Instagram Stories have a compelling beginning, middle and end.

That means no more posting a random assortment of images and videos because they look nice.

It means being strategic about what you share, so that you begin by letting users know what they should expect (A day in the life? 3 tips to sleep better? A Q&A with you?), delivering on that promise, and then wrapping up the Story neatly (ideally with a call-to-action to continue the conversation in your DMs).

Worry less about the quality of the visuals and more about the quality of the Story you’re telling.

Instagram users are used to seeing real and raw Story content from their friends and family, so don’t feel that your Stories need to be glossy, highly edited pieces of content. They don’t.

But they do need to encourage people to keep watching.

Think about how you can make the beginning of a Story enticing. Could you ask a question? Make a controversial statement? Include an interactive sticker to encourage engagement from the start?

Once you hook people, don’t make the rest of the Story too lengthy. 12 segments or less is the ideal length for one Instagram Story.

The shorter and sweeter your Story, the more likely people will be to watch the whole way through.

Instagram Stories: Replies

The second and final Instagram Story metric to monitor is replies.

And the good news is that you can find this easily inside your Instagram insights.

So why are replies so important?

Because getting people off of Stories and inside your inbox is essential to deepening relationships with your followers.

If you’re a business owner, the single best way to start warming up leads and converting them into customers and clients is by chatting to them in the DMs.

There, you can have 1:1 conversations with them, get to know them better and start to learn where and how they’re struggling. And, crucially, how you can help solve that struggle.

How to create Stories that encourage people to send a DM?

Sliding into someone’s DMs isn’t something everybody feels comfortable doing.

So if you want people to start hitting that message box, think about the kind of content that will spark conversation and encourage interaction.

Think about the kinds of content that drives comments as we discussed at the top of this article.

It might be a personal Instagram Story about something that matters to both you and your audience.

It could be a more controversial Instagram Story about something in your niche or industry that you agree or disagree with.

For example, here’s a recent Instagram Story I shared about Instagram bots. I received 5 replies.


And as often as possible, include a call-to-action.

Tell people clearly and explicitly to hit the poll sticker, send a DM, message you their thoughts, swipe the emoji slider, drop a comment in the question box.

If you don’t tell your followers to engage with you, again and again and again, they won’t.


Now that we’ve walked through the most important Instagram metrics to monitor in 2020, are you feeling more confident about your Instagram strategy overall?

Instagram insights don’t have to be overwhelming. And they really are essential if you want to understand and optimise what’s working and what isn’t.

Because your content and your audience is unique to you.

What works for your competitors may not work for you and vice versa. But you won’t know that until you get up close and personal with your Instagram insights.


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:

More posts by Bella Foxwell

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