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The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Analytics: Metrics, Insights, Tools and Tips

Instagram analytics are a key part of any Instagram marketing strategy.
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Analytics: Metrics, Insights, Tools and Tips
Image credit: via Buffer
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Instagram analytics are a key part of any Instagram marketing strategy.

How do you know if your Instagram marketing strategy is going well? How do you track your Instagram performance and improve your content? Analytics are often essential for answering your questions.

With Instagram analytics, you can obtain a ton of valuable data and information to understand how your brand is performing on Instagram and how you can improve your results.

Related: How to Customize Your Facebook News Feed to Maximize Productivity

In this guide, we’ll go through everything about Instagram analytics -- from what metrics and insights are available to how to get all them for free to what you can do with them to boost your Instagram marketing.

Chapters in this guide

In this guide, we will be covering several topics under Instagram analytics. To make it more digestible, this guide is divided into four chapters. Feel free to skip to the chapter that interests you the most.

Chapter 1: 28 Instagram metrics and insights to measure and improve your performance

Chapter 2: Instagram insights and 10 other free Instagram analytics tools

Chapter 3: How we track our Instagram performance at Buffer

Chapter 4: How to act on your Instagram insights

Chapter 1: 28 Instagram metrics and insights to measure and improve your performance

Instagram provides a wide range of metrics and insights for you to measure your performance, understand your audience and improve the results of your Instagram marketing.

These metrics and insights can be obtained from Instagram’s native analytics (i.e. Instagram Insights) or other Instagram analytics tools.

Most metrics available can be considered as level-one metrics -- data in its most basic form (e.g. the number of followers and number of comments). We will go through level-two metrics -- calculated metrics (e.g. followers growth and engagement rate) -- further below.

Instagram overall: profile analytics

Follower count: The number of people following your Instagram account.

Impressions: The total number of times all of your posts have been seen.

Reach: The number of unique accounts that saw any of your posts.

Profile views: The number of times your profile was viewed.

Website clicks: The number of taps on the website link in your profile bio.

Call clicks/email clicks: The number of taps to call or email your business.

Posts: The number of Instagram posts you have published.

Mentions: The number of Instagram posts mentioning your Instagram handle.

Branded hashtags: The number of Instagram posts with your branded hashtags.

Instagram overall: audience insights

Gender: The gender distribution of your followers (men or women).

Age: The age distribution of your followers (13-17, 18-24, 25-34- 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+).

Top locations: The top five cities and countries where your followers are.

Followers -- Hours: The average times (in hours) your followers are on Instagram on each day of the week.

Followers -- Days: The days of the week when your followers are most active.

Instagram posts (photos or videos)

Impressions: The total number of times a post has been seen.

Reach: The number of unique accounts that saw a post.

Likes: The number of unique accounts that liked a post.

Comments: The number of comments on a post.

Saved: The number of unique accounts that saved a post.

Engagement: The number of unique accounts that liked, saved, or commented on a post.

Views: The number of views of your video post.

Instagram Stories

Impressions: The number of times a particular photo or video has been seen in your story.

Reach: The number of unique accounts that saw a particular photo or video in your story.

Exits: The number of times someone exited your story.

Replies: The number of replies to a particular photo or video in your story.

People insights: The list of accounts that have seen a particular photo or video in your story. Tip: You can check out their accounts by simply clicking on their handle in the list.

Instagram live videos

Live viewers at any given time: The number of accounts watching your live video and who they are.

Viewers: The number of accounts that saw any part of your Instagram live video.

Calculating level-two performance metrics

Beyond the above-mentioned metrics that you can obtain from Instagram analytics tools, you can go one level deeper by using some of those numbers to calculate more useful performance metrics.

Some of the Instagram analytics tools listed below can automatically calculate these metrics for you.

There are four general types of level-two performance metrics:

1. Growth

Growth metrics allow you to know the change (increase or decrease) of a metric. An example is follower growth -- how your follower count is growing over time.

(Metric at time 1 – Metric at time 2)
————————————————-
Metric at time 1

Examples: Follower growth, impression growth, reach growth, engagement growth, clicks growth and replies growth

2. Rate

Rate metrics give you a percentage figure to help you understand a particular metric relative to another metric. For example, engagement rate is the percentage of your followers that has engaged with your Instagram post.

Metric (e.g. number of engagement on a post)
—————————————————————
Follower count when the post was published

The common denominator used for this equation are follower count (i.e. per follower).

Examples: Impression rate, engagement rate, view rate, click rate, exit rate and completion rate.

3. Average

Average metrics give you a benchmark for the general performance of your Instagram posts. For example, the metric, average likes per post, tells you generally the number of likes each of your posts received.

Sum of metric for a period (e.g. all the likes on the posts in January)
————————————————————————————————
Number of posts in that time period

The common denominator to use is the number of posts (i.e. per post). But you can also use time period (i.e. per day or per month). For instance, you could calculate the average number of viewers for your Instagram live videos on different days of the week to determine which day might be best to live stream on Instagram.

Examples: Average comment, average engagement, average reach for Instagram Stories and average viewers for Instagram live videos.

4. Top

This category isn’t a form of metrics but still a valuable category of data to help you with your Instagram performance. By ranking your posts by the number of impressions, reach, engagement or views they received, you can find out your top performing posts and attempt to repeat the success.

Examples: Top post, top video, top 10 posts in terms of comments and top 10 posts in terms of engagement.

Chapter 2: Instagram Insights and 10 other free Instagram analytics tools

Here’s an awesome piece of news. Instagram provides pretty much all of the metrics and insights listed above in Instagram Insights. All you need is an Instagram Business Profile.

Let’s walk through Instagram Insights before we explore other free Instagram analytics tools.

Instagram’s native analytics: Instagram Insights

To gain access to Instagram Insights for your Instagram account, you’ll have to convert your Instagram profile to a Business Profile. It’s super simple and requires only four steps.

Here are the steps, according to Facebook:

  1. Go to your profile and tap on the gear icon.
  2. Tap Switch to Business Profile.
  3. On the Connect Your Facebook Page screen, you’ll see all of the Facebook Pages you’re currently an admin on. Select the Page you’d like to associate with your Business Profile on Instagram.
  4. On the Set Up Your Business Profile page, review your business’s contact information, make any changes and tap Done.

Once you have converted to a Business Profile, you’ll see a graph icon in the upper-right corner of your profile. That’s the button for Instagram Insights, similar to the analytics for your Facebook page.

Note: Instagram Insights is only available in the mobile app at the moment.

Overall

At the very top of your Instagram Insights, you’ll see the total impressions for your account and the change from the previous week. Here’re all the metrics you will see when you swipe the section left or right:

  • Impressions for the account
  • Reach for the account
  • Profile views
  • Website clicks
  • Call clicks/email clicks

Top Posts

Below that, you’ll see the “Top Posts” section. It shows you the top six posts in the past seven days sorted by impressions. Tap on “See More," and you can explore your top posts further. Tap on the sentence “Showing All posted in the past seven days sorted by Impressions” to adjust three stats filters:

  • All, photos or videos
  • Impressions, reach, engagement, likes, comments or views (for videos only)
  • 7 days, 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or 2 years

Stories

Next, you’ll see the “Stories” section where you can get the insights for your Instagram stories. If you have created a story in the past 24 hours, it will show up there. Otherwise, tap on “See More” to view the insights for your older stories. Tap on the sentence “Showing Impressions of stories posted in the past 7 days” to adjust two stats filters:

  • Impressions, reach, exits or replies
  • 24 hours, 7 days or 14 days

Followers

Next, the “Followers” section shows the average times your followers are on Instagram on that day of the week (i.e. average times for Mondays if it’s Monday). When you tap “See More”, here’s the additional information available:

  • Follower count (and number of new followers this week)
  • Gender distribution
  • Age range distribution (You can toggle between all, men or women.)
  • Top locations (You can toggle between cities and countries.)
  • Followers activity (You can toggle between hours and days. For hours, you can also switch between each day of the week.)

Promotions

The final section is “Promotions”. If you are running Instagram ads, you can see their performance here. As Instagram advertising uses Facebook’s advertising system, you can also view your Instagram ad performance in your Facebook Ads Manager.

10 Other free Instagram analytics tools

While Instagram Insights is great at providing level-one performance metrics and insights, there are several great, free Instagram analytics tools you can use to complement Instagram Insights.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of each of them:

1. Keyhole

Keyhole is a paid service but it offers a free preview of its service. You can use it to analyze your Instagram account or track a hashtag on Instagram. The preview will only show data for up to one year with a max of 99 posts, which is great for a free tool!

Key data available:

  • Account tracking
    • Number of posts per week (shown as a graph)
    • Engagements per week (shown as a graph)
    • Top posts by engagements
    • Top hashtags by engagements
  • Hashtag tracking
    • Number of posts with the hashtag
    • Number of accounts who used the hashtag
    • Top posts with the hashtag
    • Most influential accounts that used the hashtag and recent accounts that used the hashtag
    • Location
    • Share of posts
    • Sentiment
    • Gender distribution

2. Socialbakers

Socialbakers is a social media analytics tool, which provides a simple Instagram stats tracker. It provides the basic information you might be interested in, in a visually-appealing site.

Related: How to Choose the Best Social Media Marketing Tool for Your Business

Key data available:

  • Top three most-liked posts
  • Top three most-commented posts
  • Most-liked users
  • Top 10 hashtags used
  • First post
  • Distribution of post per month
  • Top filters
  • Most-tagged users

3. Squarelovin

Squarelovin is a user-generated content platform for Instagram, and it has a free Instagram analytics tool. You can connect more than one Instagram account to the tool and manage them using one dashboard.

Key data available:

  • Overview (followers growth, latest posts, etc.)
  • Monthly analytics (likes, comments, most-liked posts and most-commented posts)
  • Engagement (likes and comments received shown in graphs, most-liked media and most-commented media)
  • Optimization (best time to post and user interactions shown in graphs)

4. Simply Measured

Simply Measured provides a free Instagram user report for accounts with up to 25,000 followers. All you have to do is to fill up a form with your particulars, and Simply Measured will give you a report on your Instagram account for the previous two weeks.

Key data available:

  • Account information (number of posts, total engagements, engagements per post)
  • Engagements per week (shown as a graph)
  • Likes per post and comments per post
  • Top posts by engagements
  • Top keyword mentions in comments
  • Most active commenters
  • Comments and posts by day and time (shown as a graph)
  • Top photo filters, video filters and cities

5. Union Metrics

Union Metrics is a multi-channel social analytics platform. It offers a free Instagram account checkup, which uses some of the paid tool’s algorithms. The checkup looks at your account for the past month, and you can refresh the report every day.

Key data available:

  • Account information (total posts, followers, following, etc.)
  • Best time to post based on engagement
  • Top fans
  • Top hashtags
  • Top posts

6. Websta

Websta is powerful, free Instagram analytics tool. It is similar to Squarelovin’s Instagram analytics tool but with more features. For example, you can create up to three custom feeds, reply to comments on your posts and explore featured users and top hashtags.

Key data available:

  • Overview (total posts, likes count, comments count, etc.)
  • Content (post history, hashtag usage, etc.)
  • Engagement (followers, likes and comments growth shown as graphs, most-liked posts and most-commented posts)
  • Optimization (Best time to post and popular hashtags)

7. INK361

INK361 is an Instagram management tool. On its free plan, you’ll get basic audience insights and data about your account, reply to comments and create up to three custom circles. Custom circles allow you to monitor content from specific accounts.

Key data available:

  • Account overview
  • Love rate (a user engagement metric based on how much your followers like your posts)
  • Talk rate (a user engagement metric based on how much your followers talk about your posts)
  • Post history (Year, month, day and time distribution shown as graphs)
  • Likes and comments received shown as graphs, most-liked posts and most-commented posts
  • Hashtags used

8. SocialRank

SocialRank is an Instagram and Twitter followers management tool. It allows you to segment, identify and understand your followers so that you can better engage them. It is more of an audience insights tool than a data analytics tool.

Key data available:

  • Follower activity, distribution and top locations
  • Popular words in your followers’ bio
  • Popular words in your followers’ posts
  • Popular hashtags in your followers’ posts
  • Popular emojis in your followers’ posts
  • Data about individual followers (Average comments and likes per post, top performing posts, most-used words, hashtags, and emojis and recent photos of yours that they have engaged with)

9. Pixlee

Pixlee is a visual marketing platform that uses user-generated content from Instagram, Facebook and more. It offers a free Instagram analytics app, which would send you a weekly report. Note: Your first report will be ready after the app has collected one week’s worth of data.

Key data available:

  • Fans on Instagram (posts about your brand, top fan posts, top brand and emerging influencers)
  • Brand performance (followers, growth, top brand posts, engagement per post and posts)

10. Picture.io

Picture.io is a free Instagram analytics app created by Chute, a user-generated content marketing platform. While it does not provide as much data as other free Instagram analytics tools, it calculates your Instagram influence score, which few tools offer. Your score is calculated by an algorithm which takes into account metrics such as your network size, engagement and community trends.

Key data available:

  • Influence score
  • Most popular photos (The popularity factor is determined by its algorithm, too.)

Paid Instagram analytics tools

If you have the budget to spend a bit on an Instagram analytics tool, here’s a list of the paid, specialized Instagram analytics tools, which have several more powerful features.

  1. Iconosquare -- price starting from $9 per month or $54 per year with a 14-day free trial
  2. Minter.io -- price starting from $20 per month with a 14-day free trial
  3. InfluencerDB -- price starting 99€ (about $100) per month with a free plan
  4. Dash Hudson Instagram Insights -- custom pricing packages

Chapter 3: How we track our Instagram performance at Buffer

I thought it might be helpful to share a little about how we use Instagram as a marketing tool and how we track our Instagram performance at Buffer.

Brian Peters, our digital marketing strategist, uses the various content formats for different marketing purposes. Our Instagram posts are for driving brand awareness and engagement while our Instagram Stories and live videos are for sharing educational content.

Brian uses a mix of Buffer, Iconosquare and Instagram Insights (Instagram’s in-app analytics) to track our Instagram performance on a weekly basis. Here’re the main metrics he tracks -- and where to find each of them:

  • Average likes per post -- from Iconosquare > Analytics > Engagement
  • Average reach per post -- from Instagram Insights > Top posts > Sort by Reach
  • Audience size growth (or decline) week over week -- from Iconosquare > Analytics > Overview or Buffer > Analytics > Analysis > Followers and New Followers
  • Average engagement rate compared to previous weeks -- from Iconosquare > Analytics > Overview
  • Number of posts for the week (for tracking consistency) -- from Buffer > Analytics > Analysis > Posts Per Day

Chapter 4: How to act on Your Instagram Insights

Once you gather all your metrics and find out audience insights, you are all ready to improve your Instagram marketing. Here are several ideas on how to use your Instagram insights to achieve better results:

Change your posting day and/or time

Just like Facebook, since the introduction of the algorithmic feed, there probably isn’t a single best time to post on Instagram. Instead, each brand has their own perfect time to post. With Instagram analytics, you can find your perfect posting times.

With Instagram Insights from the Instagram app, you can tell the days when your followers are most active and the average times they are on Instagram on a typical day. For instance, our followers seem to be most active on Sunday and from about 9 pm to 6 am SGT (or 8 am ET to 5 pm ET, working hours in the East Coast) for most days of the week.

You could either post during those peak hours to reach your audience when they are most active or post during off-peak hours when there might be less competition on your followers’ feed. I’d recommend experimenting with both to determine your perfect posting times.

Improve your content based on performance or followers demographics

Using the Instagram Insights, you can easily tell which are your top posts and stories based on impressions, reach and engagement. Once you have sorted your top posts, do you notice any trends?

For instance, our giveaway posts tend to generate the most comments while user-generated landscape photos usually receive the most engagement. To drive more engagement, we can continue to post landscape photos from our community.

You can also use the followers’ demographics and your understanding of your target audience to improve your content and appeal to them. For example, if most of your followers are females aged 35-44 who like to design, can you create content that resonates with them more than the rest of your followers?

Tell better Instagram Stories

You can also use your Instagram Stories data to improve your stories. Instagram Insights from the Instagram app provides data such as impressions, exits and replies, which you can use to tell better stories.

For example, our story on creating a custom graphic within Canva received more impressions than other recent stories, and our Instagram Stories takeover by HubSpot on productivity tips received more replies than other recent stories.

We can also dive into a particular story: Most people exited our video marketing stats story at the first photo so perhaps we could work on the headline for the next story.

What does your Instagram Stories data tell you? Is there a type of stories that tends to do better than the rest? Is there a common point when most of your followers exit your stories?

Experiment with different call-to-actions

Since Instagram allows only one link (in the bio), marketers would usually have a call-to-action (CTA) in their Instagram posts to direct followers to the link in their bio.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Takeovers

With Instagram Insights’ website clicks metric, you can now know how effective your CTAs are. You could change your CTA on a weekly basis and see if the number of website clicks increases. As a refresher, website clicks are the number of taps on the link in your bio.

Alternatively, you could use Bitly or similar link shorteners with tracking capabilities for the link in your bio to track the number of clicks.

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