19 min read
Ever wonder how some creators grow their Instagram audience so much faster than you?
Are they evading the Instagram algorithm using sneaky, underground tactics? Or did they venture deep into the Peruvian jungle with Indiana Jones to uncover mysterious Instagram insights?
Well, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but success on Instagram isn't all that mysterious. And it doesn’t involve sneaky underground tactics or bushwhacking through the rainforest.
The actual reason some online creators grow their audiences quickly? They have a strong handle on their Instagram metrics. Understanding the numbers behind your Instagram can help you grow your audience, build an engaged community, and drive more traffic (and sales) to your website.
If you're new to Instagram Insights, though, all those numbers and metrics can feel a little overwhelming. What’s the difference between reach and impressions, anyway? And how do you turn your Instagram metrics into actual content decisions?
To help you out, I’ve collected everything you need to know about your Instagram metrics. I’ll go over how to get Instagram Insights hooked up to your account, an overview of all your metrics for all different post types, and a few ways you can use your newfound insights to connect better with your Instagram audience.
Bust out your safari helmet and let's get exploring.
Let's start with the basics: What exactly is Instagram Insights, and why is it so important?
Instagram Insights is an analytics tool that exists within the Instagram app. With Instagram Insights, you can learn all about your followers, how your content is performing, and measure your audience engagement level. You can also learn when your audience is online, how they interact with your posts, and which posts are the most popular.
The best way for me to explain just how helpful Instagram Insights are is to use an example.
Let’s say you’re running a parenting blog, like Nina Garcia over at Sleeping Should Be Easy:
With a blog like this, I’m guessing you’ll be posting a few different types of content on Instagram:
So how do you know which content is working the best for your business? That’s where Instagram tracking swoops in and saves the day. From your Instagram Insights, you might uncover a few different nuggets of information:
Instagram metrics enable you to scope out how your content is performing and how your audience is engaging with it so you can make adjustments. Think of Instagram Insights as your guide through the jungle, helping you create more of the content your audience wants to see so you can grow your following faster.
Now that we understand the importance of Instagram Insights let’s look at how to access them.
To view your Instagram Insights, you first need to convert your personal Instagram account to an Instagram Professional account.
If that sounds intimidating, hear me out: Instagram Professional accounts let you list other important details on your profile, like a category label for your business or location and contact details. You also need a professional account if you want to try running Instagram ads. To put it simply: if you’re running an online business, there’s no reason not to have an Instagram Professional account.
If you already have a personal Instagram account, you can convert it to a Professional account with just a few clicks:
Next, choose the option that describes you and your work—either Business or Creator—and select a category that best describes your business.
If you also use Facebook for your business, you’ll also want to connect your Instagram profile to your Facebook Business page. Most social media automation tools will only let you post to your profile once you’ve verified it by connecting to a Facebook page, so it’s worth taking a few seconds to do this step now.
Now that you have an Instagram Professional account, here's how to get Instagram analytics in your account:
You can also access metrics for individual posts by tapping on the View Insights button below each post:
Within your Instagram Insights dashboard, you’ll see three tabs: Content, Activity, and Audience.
If you don't see any metrics straight away, don't be alarmed. Instagram only shows metrics for feed posts you’ve shared since converting your account to a Professional account.
For any new posts you create, Instagram will keep a backlog of the most important metrics for up to two years. That way, you can always go back and access data for past posts.
Let’s take a quick look at the overall metrics for your account within each tab, and then we’ll dive into the metrics for individual posts.
Before you can optimize your content, it’s important to know who you’re trying to reach. Luckily, Instagram Insights’ Audience tab makes accessing this information simple.
The Audience tab shows information about your followers and how your audience is growing. You can gather insights into your audience demographics, like their age ranges, gender, top locations, and when they’re most active on Instagram.
At the bottom, you'll also find a chart showing what times of the day your followers are online:
Knowing all this information about your audience helps you create content that targets the right audience at the right time. These metrics make it easy to share content when your audience is most active on the platform (because you know they’re active), rather than when they’re half asleep or focused on something else.
Let’s say most of your followers are online in the evenings. You could use a social media scheduling tool to pre-schedule most of your posts to publish when your audience is online—and most likely to view and engage with your posts.
Also, the Audience metrics help you make sure you’re creating content for your entire audience. Think back to our parenting blog example from earlier. If you see that although your primary audience is new moms, but 20% of your audience is male, you could dedicate a handful of posts to supporting the men in your audience.
The Activity tab includes two different sections: Interactions and Discovery.
The Interactions subsection shows how many times visitors have interacted with your content in different ways over the last seven days. Interactions include things like the number of likes, the number of comments, profile visits, and website clicks. The Interactions section also lists how much your interactions have grown (or shrunk) compared to the previous week.
The Discovery tab shows you how your account is performing overall across the past seven days. This tab shows two different metrics:
A quick note: the Activity tab only shows the past seven days of data. To see a longer period, you can view more data in the Content tab.
Both the Interactions and Discovery metrics reveal how engaging your content is, and can help you decipher why certain content receives more engagement than others. Maintaining a steady stream of quality content means you should see both Reach and Impressions growing every week.
For example, if you posted a product review video on a Tuesday and your Interactions tab shows many website clicks on that day, you can assume the product post drove the increase in clicks. You can verify your assumptions by looking at the individual post metrics, which I'll talk more about in just a bit.
The Content tab shows metrics for all the content you’ve posted over the past two years. The Content tab breaks down three subsections, showing detailed metrics for feed posts, Stories, and ads (or paid posts).
Tap See All to view your feed posts on one screen. From there, you can sort and filter feed posts by time frame, post type, and metric type to find the posts you’re looking for.
Want to find out more information about a single post? You can view in-depth metrics for any of your posts right from within the Content tab by tapping on the post you want to view individual metrics for, then tapping View Insights.
Pro tip: You can also view individual post metrics by tapping View Insights from the post via your feed.
For each post, you can see:
Knowing which posts are helping you reach a wider audience, and how those users came across your posts, can help you optimize your Instagram strategy.
Say you used a new hashtag on a post, and that post saw a significant increase in the number of users finding your posts through hashtags. You can make sure you use those hashtags for future posts to maximize your discoverability.
On the flip side, if a post receives a lower engagement rate than usual, you can use these metrics to diagnose what went wrong. Maybe your call-to-action wasn’t strong enough. Perhaps your video was too long. Or maybe you posted at the wrong time of day.
Each of these factors can reduce the potential reach of your posts, so it’s worth understanding what went wrong and how you can avoid it happening again.
Instagram Stories are a brilliant way to grow your audience and business online. With 500 million people using Stories every day (yeah, you read that right) and 62% of people saying they’ve become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories, they're a great way to grow your audience (and business) fast.
You'll find metrics for your Stories under the Content tab. Under Stories, tap See All to see all your Stories. You can also sort your Stories as you can with feed posts, but can only view back up to 14 days.
What’s most interesting about Stories compared to regular feed posts is that you can sort by a wide range of various metrics:
You can use this info to improve your content strategy—for example, if you see your video Stories performing better than your static image Stories, it’s best to focus on video content.
What's most interesting about Stories, though, is that you can see which content performs best based on how users interact with the content.
Say you saw an uptick in Back taps on one of your posts—it’s safe to say that users were very interested in your content. But if you saw many Forward taps, users likely weren’t too interested in that content, or that it was too long.
Track how your Stories are performing over time, and you'll soon discover what works best for your audience.
So now, you’re set up with an Instagram Business account, and you know how to find the metrics you need to make informed decisions around your content. But how do you use those metrics to improve your strategy?
I hate to break it to you, but there's no silver bullet strategy for growing an audience on Instagram. The metrics you use to measure success vary depending on whether you're trying to reach more people, engage your viewers, or drive more sales.
Once you understand the right metrics to follow, though, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions around your Instagram content, and reach your business goals.
Ever since Instagram implemented an algorithm designed to customize users' based on what they engage with, creating content that encourages user engagement has been a top priority for creators. The more interest you get on a post, the more people Instagram will show it to.
If you're trying to reach new people, be sure to prioritize posts that see a higher reach than others. You can find this info in the Content tab, or in the individual post insights. Try to create content that reaches a large percentage of users who don’t already follow you. That way, you’ll have a greater chance of gaining more followers.
This video post from business and financial coach Nicole Walters is a perfect example. Instead of being about business, she posts personal videos about her life and family—and it turns out these posts are some of the most viewed and shared posts on her feed.
Don't be afraid to get personal in your Instagram posts. Image via Nicole Walters
Try using hashtags to expand your reach beyond your immediate network. Also, don’t forget to include a strong call-to-action to share your posts or follow your account.
If you're building a community of devoted followers, you want to reach your most engaged audience members rather than just the highest number of viewers. An engaged audience is far more likely to purchase products, give valuable feedback, and share your brand with their own audience.
Stick to content that targets a high number of engagements, like shares, likes, saves, and comments—all which you can find in the Activity tab within your Instagram Insights page. Including a strong call-to-action encouraging users to leave a comment on your post is always an excellent practice in this case.
Take this post from lifestyle blogger, Chelsea Scott of The Millennial Miss:
View this post on Instagram
ALRIGHT SIS – let’s work it out 📞🗓 if working from home has you feeling like a lost animal, DON’T WORRY (!!!!) these tips will steer you in the right direction. A full breakdown ++ bulletproof tips are currently on TMM ⌨️ but in the meantime here are a few WFH takeaways → › sticking to a 𝓈𝒸𝒽𝑒𝒹𝓊𝓁𝑒 is key › 𝕕𝕖𝕗𝕚𝕟𝕖 a workspace (your bed does not count) › don’t even 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕜 about turning on the TV › for the sake of your 𝓈𝒶𝓃𝒾𝓉𝓎- take a walk around the block to get some fresh air › real 𝕔𝕝𝕠𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕤 vs PJs … what team are you? sharing my two cents in the blog post › hate to be the one to tell you this but 𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕤𝕟𝕒𝕔𝕜𝕤 in the pantry do not need to be consumed in one sitting. seriously. . . . website link in bio. TAG a friend who could use a few pointers🔑 I hope this helps !! YOU GOT THIS 🙌🏻✏️ 🗂 xx || #WorkFromHome #WorkFromHomeLife #HomeOffice #BusinessTips #MillennialMiss
Use Instagram captions to encourage engagement. Image via The Millennial Miss
Simple calls-to-action like this one encourage not only comments but open up the possibility of others who don’t follow her account to see the post (and follow her as a result).
If you’re selling a product, using your Instagram audience as a feeder for your email list is a superb way to transition to another digital marketing channel. To do this, optimize your content for user engagement (as per your metric insights) and encourages link clicks.
Check out this post from mindset and business coach Melyssa Griffin. She writes post captions with a single goal: to drive readers to her Bold Abundance Mastermind program.
View this post on Instagram
Monja is the real ring leader around these parts, lemme tell ya. No business idea gets the green light until this little floof has the final say. We’re 6,000 miles apart right now (the horror!), so he just FaceTimed me to bark a very important message: mastermind applications are CLOSING tomorrow at 5pm PST. So, get to barkin’ work if you haven’t submitted your application yet! (His words, not mine.) Here’s the deal: I’m hosting TWO separate mastermind groups — one for businesses earning less than $250k/year and one for businesses earning more than $250k/year. The people we’ve already curated for these groups are, like, otherworldly awesome. Truly SUCH incredible humans! And the word here IS curation. You’d be joining a group of people who are hand-selected for the possibility-focused culture we are adamant about creating. So, if you want to: ❤️Grow a rockstar team so that you can fully step into your role as the visionary of your company (instead of an overworked employee)… 🧡Create a product suite that flows and has your community begging for more… 💛Meet other impact-driven, ambitious entrepreneurs… 💚Create structure and systems so your business doesn’t feel band-aided together… 💙And do it all with EASE, and JOY, and NO MORE WORKING WEEKENDS… …Then Monja sincerely hopes you submit your application before the deadline. 🙌🏼 Visit BoldAbundanceMastermind.com or click the link in my profile to apply! Now tell me…which pic of Monja is your fav??
Use Instagram to drive traffic to your website or landing page. Image via Melyssa Griffin
Always be sure to include an interesting call-to-action at the end of your post, so users click through to your website, sign up for your email list, or download a lead magnet. If you include links in your description or comments, be sure to include UTM parameters, so you know where those visitors came from.
So there you have it: your map to uncovering the hidden treasures within Instagram Insights. Understanding the numbers behind your Instagram can help you grow your audience, build an engaged community, and drive more traffic (and sales) to your website.
One last thought: metrics can be super handy for growing your audience, but don’t let the numbers smother your creativity. Producing great content should always be at the core of your Instagram strategy—but your metrics will always be there to help guide your next move.
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