Let’s talk about Instagram analytics. Working for an eCommerce brand, you’re well aware of the importance of social media. You, along with 25 million other businesses, have your Instagram account set-up and ready to go to market to the 800 million active users who are out there, hungry for content.
But, as you quickly learn, there’s more to Instagram than just posting pictures. The second you begin strategizing, you’re hit with a wave of considerations to make – posting rate, captions, filters, hashtags, and more. How can you be sure that you’re reaching the right audience? And, if you are reaching the desired audience, how do you really know if your content is working?
“What gets measured, gets managed.” – Peter Drucker
Instagram, just like any other marketing channel, needs analytics to make sense. Marketing on Instagram without analyzing the data would be like writing a book with only half of the words. Readers are destined to spend their time maniacally flipping through pages looking for a cohesive narrative before discarding it and moving on to the next. And that just doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Instead, use your brand’s Instagram analytics right. Don’t waste your time staring at your data, hoping it turns into actionable strategy – make it happen for yourself!
If you’re using Instagram as a marketing channel, which I highly suggest that you do, then make sure you’re taking full advantage of Instagram analytics and everything you gain from tracking your data. In this blog post, we’ll go through what you should be measuring, then we’ll delve into the best tools to help you do it!
Let’s get started with the different data you should track when it comes to marketing your products on Instagram. Then, we’ll get into the 3 most important points to keep in mind when talking about Instagram analytics: brand engagement, hashtag power, and user quality.
Instagram Analytics – What do I need to measure?
You can’t give the people what they want if you don’t know who those people are. Use Instagram analytics to learn everything you can about the people who follow your brand so you can find more of those people and market to them! Instagram Insights, the built-in analytics that come with an Instagram for business account, is great for demography. More on this to come!
Let’s move on to look at the first of the three most important aspects to understanding your Instagram analytics – starting with brand engagement!
There’s a reason why brands are so obsessed with engagement. Engagement rates tell you if people are interested in your products, image, message, and, ultimately, your brand as a whole. If they aren’t liking or commenting, then they are not as interested as they could be. So this is something that you absolutely need to track!
What content catches their eye? When are they most likely to ask you a question in the comments or even tag their friends? If you don’t know which activations are stirring interest, you can’t recreate them. So get a tool that helps you to understand your content and how well it’s performing. Then, create content that you know your followers want to engage with.
To measure engagement rate, it’s useful to look at 3 different metrics: daily engagement rate, engagement rate by likes on brand posts and engagement rate by comments on brand posts. All of this helps you understand how much your audience really interacts with the content that you post.
For a better understanding of what these 3 metrics really mean, here’s a brief description for each.
- Daily engagement rate: The average proportion of users following the brand who like any images posted by the brand each day.
- Engagement rate by likes on brand posts: The average proportion of users following the brands who like each image posted by the brand.
- Engagement rate by comments on brand posts: The average proportion of users following the brand who comment on each image posted by the brand.
With this information, mixed with Top Brand Photos, you will be able to develop your understanding of what content your customers are interested in seeing from your brand.
But what are the best ways that you can ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward on Instagram? Let’s review what can help you increase your engagement rate!
Define your brand’s style, and be consistent
Most brands have a distinct image, a consistent recognisable style. And, of course, the Instagram account of your brand should reflect this style. Brands should look to define their personal identity on Instagram and stick to it. This can be achieved with the use of colour themes, image filtering, image context. It could be minimal, colourful, monotone, black and white, natural, still life, the list goes on.
The point is that your brand should not project the random look of a personal account where someone documents their life. This doesn’t mean impersonal, but it does mean consistent and considered.
Be active – The conversation works both ways
This point brings us back to the ‘social’ component of social media. The ongoing conversation with your audience should work both ways. Where possible, the brand should be an active part of conversations by encouraging positive comments and replying to questions quickly. And when your audience sees that comments are acknowledged by the brand, they are more likely to engage in conversations themselves.
What’s more, the evidence that we have suggests that Instagram’s algorithm is designed to encourage this type of positive interaction. So, the more active you are, the more likely you are to appear higher on people’s Instagram feed. It’s a win-win for being socially active and taking part in the conversation.
To get a better understanding of how the Instagram algorithm works, this audio is worth a listen.
It can be tricky to know exactly how much to post as there is no defined best practice. However, our data does indicate that it doesn’t negatively affect your reach to post frequently throughout the day (up to 5 times is a good cut-off). It’s all about finding a formula that works for your brand and sticking to it (you can use an Instagram analytics tool like Sprout Social for that).
But remember, when all is said and done, only post if you have something worth posting. There is no value in posting junk content, so get organised. To be truly professional in this space it’s important to build a library of quality content that is suitable for your account, then you can choose to post it exactly when you want.
Host a contest
Hosting a contest on Instagram might just be the most effective way of gaining the most followers in the shortest time possible. If humans ever need an excuse to do something, a bit of healthy competition never hurt! So if you want a whole array of people posting on your hashtag, try starting a competition. This will drive the creation of high quality content, and really engage your audience. Of course, running the best possible competitions with real long term benefits for your brand requires careful planning, so here is a helpful guide we wrote to get you well on your way!
Golden rule – don’t use bots!
There are a ton of services offering bot systems that claim to increase your followership and engagement, without any effort on your part. However employing this lazy approach is not wise for 2 main reasons.
1) Many bots designed to increase your followership will do so by automatically following, and unfollowing specific types of accounts. The problem here is that the type of followers you gain from this strategy tend to be largely disinterested in your account, and as such not engaged at all with your content. As a result, they in fact lower your engagement rate by increasing your follower count with users who are not engaging with your content.
2) Instagram is constantly updating its algorithm, improving its ability to detect the activity of bots. You might ask, sure – but what does it matter if Instagram finds out? Well, this year they have started to act. You may remember all the fuss at the beginning of 2017 about Shadowbans. Although still unconfirmed by Instagram, the consensus is that Shadowbans occur when accounts (especially business accounts) are found to behave in a ‘spammy’ way. So, it’s simple, don’t do it.
These are all great ways to get your engagement rate! And if you still haven’t measured what your engagement rate is – what are you waiting for? Grab an Instagram analytics tool like Iconosquare and get started!
Moving on to aspect number two…
Are people using your hashtag? Do they identify with it? How do they use your hashtag and when? Where are they when they use your hashtag?
There are a million questions when it comes to hashtag use. This makes tracking this aspect of Instagram marketing one of the most important things that you’ll do. Here is where you truly begin to understand what inspires your customers to act in the name of your brand. If you understand this, then you can continue encouraging that side of them, which will only grow your base of active users.
Instagram analytics tools can help you track how many people post with your hashtag, how many people like the posts that are tagged with your hashtag, and even the number of unique users that post with your hashtag. With this information, you can really understand if your new hashtag is getting the interest that hashtags are made for!
How to measure hashtag power with Instagram Analytics
An Instagram analytics tool can help you measure hashtag power. Good metrics to look out for are number of hashtag posts, number of likes on hashtag, and the number of unique users on the hashtag.
To once again give you a better idea of what this really means to your brand, here’s a more detailed description of each:
- Hashtag posts: This is the total number of Instagram posts posted by users which include the brand’s main hashtag during the window of our analysis.
- Likes on hashtag: the total number of likes received by all of the images posted by users which include the brand’s main hashtag during the window of our analysis.
- Unique users on hashtag: This is the total number of users posting on the brand’s main hashtag when each unique user is counted only once despite how many times they use the hashtag.
With these metrics, you get everything you need to ensure that your hashtag is performing well with your audience!
Now it’s time to consider what you can do to maximise the effectiveness of your brand’s hashtag(s) on Instagram.
How many hashtags should you promote?
There are no restrictions on the number of different hashtags a brand can promote, however there is a limit to the number of different hashtags your audience is going to actively engage with. Most brands will promote a primary (or branded) hashtag, which is either their brand name, or something similar. In addition some brands will also promote community hashtags, designed to connect like-minded users around a particular topic which is related to the brand.
We recommend using no more than two hashtags at one time. This means one primary hashtag, which never changes, and one community hashtag which you can change whenever appropriate, perhaps for a new season or special promotion for example.
The crucial point is not to over saturate your audience with different messages from the brand. For brands with multiple hashtags we recommend using the hashtag which is posted on most frequently.
How many hashtags for each photo?
You don’t need an Instagram analytics tool to answer this question!
Whilst you should be careful not to promote lots of hashtags simultaneously, this doesn’t mean you have to use just these hashtags on your posts. The categorising function of the hashtag can be extremely useful to get your images in front of the right audience.
If you are actively trying to promote and grow a smaller brand through Instagram, by all means use numerous hashtags that are related to your brand and/or the particular image, but tread with caution. As a general rule we recommend not using more than 10 Hashtags in a single post (even under 5 will sometime do the trick), otherwise there can be a perception that your posts are spammy, and this is an absolute no-no for any brand.
Choosing the right hashtag(s) for your brand using Instagram analytics
The right hashtag for your brand isn’t always the most obvious. As your primary hashtag it might seem ideal to use the brand’s name, but this doesn’t always hold true. When a brand’s main hashtag has a common meaning, users searching on the hashtag will see many images which will be unrelated to the brand.
For example, if you type ‘#Apple’ into Instagram, you don’t just see shots of shiny computers and related Apple products, you’ll also see a lot of fruit! This problem of hashtag crossover highlights the importance of selecting a unique hashtag for any brand.
Choosing a community hashtag can be a little more complex. However, it’s not something to lose any sleep over. Some brands have a permanent message that they promote alongside their brand, such as Nike with their famous ‘Just Do It’ slogan. Whilst other brands will change their community tag frequently for different promotions.
An excellent starting point when creating a community hashtag is to look at your audience and any related accounts. See what themes they frequently post on, and use this as a basis for creating your own. But don’t be afraid to get creative, try things out, push the boundaries a little. This is an area where you can express a bit of the brand’s personality, and find the messages that your audience connect with best. You never know, you might stumble on something unexpected that really takes hold with your audience.
At Photoslurp, we take a keen interest in hashtags as they form the filters that allow us to collect all the of the User Generated Content (UGC) for any brand. And because we know it’s not an easy task to make a hashtag from scratch, here is a handy guide we wrote to help you get these crucial little phrases just right for your brand.
Actively promote your hashtag
Whatever type of hashtag you choose, the bottom line is that you want people to use it. The more it gets used, the more your brand and its associated images will be spread organically throughout Instagram. So, there is no point having a hashtag if you don’t let anybody know about it.
First things first, mention your hashtag(s) in your bio! You would be amazed at how many brands completely ignore this, and assume that their followers know exactly how you would like to be tagged. So, don’t leave any room for doubt. Spell it out, loud and clear, making sure all your content is easily discoverable through accurate hashtags.
If you are serious about social media, include your hashtag on more than just your Instagram page! Think about including it on the homepage of your website or integrating it into your digital advertising campaigns. You could even go a step further and print it on your branded packaging. This will remind your customer of exactly what hashtag to use when they get that product home. Social media is most effective when your audience is interactive. Don’t be afraid to promote this interactivity in the real world!
And finally, of course, running competitions is always an effective way to get people posting. Here is a great example from Herschel Bags, who managed to gain 1.8 million hashtags on their #WellTravelled campaign.
Organise and monitor the content on your hashtags using Instagram Analytics
Once you have nailed the creation of hashtags and successfully encouraged your audience to post amazing images of your products, what are you going to do with all of that content? Well, ‘nothing’ is not the answer… to really take advantage of the content your audience has diligently produced, you need to collect it, and use it.
As a brand you want to make sales, right? So let’s use this content to maximise your online conversion rates and increase sales by positioning this User Generated Content on your eCommerce site.. These real-life images provide an element of social proof, which can give the extra confidence needed to turn a browser into a buyer.
At Photoslurp, this is exactly our area of expertise. Our advanced platform allows you to collect, filter, and curate any content posted on your brand’s hashtags. From here, you can label products and send the images directly to your eCommerce site. This gives your audience a different, truly authentic angle on your brand. What’s more, you can credit your contributors by direct message and link to their original images from your own site. This will help to make your audience an active part of the brand.
If you want to explore how Photoslurp can help you harness UGC for your brand, come visit us here. We firmly believe that in order to market your brand effectively through Instagram, you need a way of measuring your performance through Instagram analytics.
Finally, our last aspect to help you understand your Instagram analytics…
Though this aspect of your performance can no longer be tracked and measured in the same way as before the deprecation of the Instagram API back in April 2018 (RIP), this is still an important consideration for your brand. Attracting customers who can help you reach more people with their large and actively engaged followerships is a worthwhile venture, i.e. influencer marketing.
What does User ‘Quality’ really mean?
First of all, we need to explain what we mean by ‘quality’ in the context of Instagram Users. Whenever we look at an Instagram account we are given a whole array of information and, when organised properly, this information can be used to infer the ‘quality’ of the user. In other words, we want to know what their overall level of likability and influence is over their audience. Then by associating with your brand, do these users have a positive effect on your overall image. If the answer is yes, that’s great! And of course, the more high quality users you have posting on your brand’s hashtag(s) the better.
In short, a high quality user will have very positive follower/followee ratio, and a comparatively high engagement rate. Plus, in the interest of your brand, they will post frequently using your hashtag, making them a type of evangelist.
As a rule, if you have lots of engaged users on your hashtag, then you’re doing something right. If you have lots of inactive, disengaged users, then perhaps you have some work to do.
To have low quality users posting your brand’s hashtag is not overtly detrimental. However, they do not provide much added value through your association with them. By contrast high quality users can reflect well on your brand, and actively improve your brand’s image and boost growth. Therefore, you want to employ a strategy that actively encourages high quality users to post frequently with your brand’s hashtag(s).
Encourage high quality users that improve your Instagram analytics
As a brand, you should try to maintain an overview of the content that is being posted on your hashtag(s). Who is posting? What images are posted? What hashtags are used alongside yours? What’s the general sentiment towards your product? This monitoring process might seem a little over the top, but this is the professional way to take care of your brand on Instagram.
Within this monitoring process there is the opportunity to identify high quality users. When you see that great picture, which makes you think: wow they look great with our product! Don’t just flick past it. Instead, take the time to look through the user’s account. See how many followers they have and find out what other brands they like. A few minutes of looking will give you enough information to see if they’re worth reaching out to.
Discovering Instagram influencers
Firstly, if the content on your brand is great, then of course credit them – say thanks at the very least. But, if they are someone who can add some value to your brand, then start a dialogue. If the user has a good followership and posts great content, then they could really help you.
Users like this are genuine fans of your brand, ready made evangelists who are already helping you out even before you make contact. So encourage these people to post more for your brand. Comment on their images. Send them private messages to say thanks. Send free products enticing them to post more images. Your goal is to maximise their potential as a vehicle for promoting your brand.
This strategy of recruiting these ‘super-micro’ influencers is effective for brands of all sizes. For larger brands, it provides a more personal and/or local touch point with your customer, something which is impossible through other forms of marketing. And for smaller brands, it provides cost effective means of growing your audience by taking advantage of Instagram’s networking power.
Of course, to do this properly takes time and effort. However, here at Photoslurp we have found that many customers use our platform to facilitate this whole process. At its most fundamental level, our software allows brands to monitor and organise all the content that’s posted on our clients’ hashtag(s). We can then filter this data in various different ways, helping to quickly identify those users of interest who could help your brand.
Learn more about how the Photoslurp platform can help you get the most out of User Generated Content for your brand.
So that’s all you need to know about brand engagement, hashtag power, and user quality! Now let’s explore some Instagram analytics tools that can help you leverage these three aspects of your Instagram strategy.
Instagram Analytics – Using Instagram for business
A lot of the information that you’re looking for can be found right within Instagram – that is if you have an Instagram for business account. If you don’t, grab your phone immediately and make the switch. This is only an advantage to your brand. Especially when it comes to the amazing Instagram analytics that come along with it!
These in-platform Instagram analytics kill it when it comes to demographical information. You can learn the top locations of your follower base, the age range, gender, and the average times/days that your followers are on Instagram.
It also gives you information into who is seeing your posts through engagement, reach, and impressions. But wait…what’s the difference between the three?
- Impressions – The total number of times all your posts have been seen.
- Reach – The number of unique accounts that have seen your posts
- Engagement – The total number of likes, comments, and clicks your posts have gotten.
For more on the benefits of Instagram Insights and on having an Instagram for business account versus a normal account, read this. It’s an important distinction that your brand will suffer without. So do yourself a favor and go for the business account!
Though Instagram insights will take your far, you may be looking for more from your Instagram analytics. Here are a few more tool suggestions for getting the best analytics for your brand.
Instagram Analytics – Other amazing tools for analyzing your performance
Sprout Social offers a robust Instagram analytics suite with post performance, trends in hashtag usage, audience engagement and competitor data. Where they stand out as a tool is with their focus on giving you digestible reports on all things Instagram.
Request an Instagram profile report, tag report, sent messages report or an Instagram competitors report – all in the same place. Their detailed and comprehensive Instagram analytics will help you activate your marketing strategy.
To learn more about finding and reaching your target audience on Instagram, check out Sprout Social’s effective blog post for targeting your demographic.
Iconosquare is well-known for its leading analytics and management suite for Instagram and Facebook. The features and insights provided by Iconosquare help you to grow a social-rich media strategy, interact effectively with your community, and measure your efforts with metrics.
One of the draws of this tool is its ability to track all interactions with your Instagram Stories – something that is fairly unique to this tool. Their detailed analytics, alongside those within the Instagram app, will give you everything you need to continue creating a memorable Instagram story (which we all know is only getting more and more prevalent).
Take a look at their amazing guide to analyzing Instagram Stories if you want to learn more about how to measure your Stories.
Instagram Analytics – Conclusion
There you have it – all the tools you need to successfully track your Instagram analytics! I hope you see the benefit of measuring your performance and how much it can help your brand.
We can’t stress enough how much analyzing can help you reach your potential. Especially in a crowded social space that’s constantly changing. Without analyzing, you may not realize your followers are no longer interested in something they were dying for before. And don’t you want to be the brand that’s always keeping up with the latest trends?
Looking for more Instagram tips? Head to our complete guide to Instagram Marketing, where you’ll find everything you need to know about promoting your products on this crucial platform.