Which Instagram Insights Are Important? | What to Look for to GROW

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When I say Instagram Insights, you say….? No wrong answers. Just comment down below what comes to mind first.

If you immediately thought about likes, comments and follows, you’re not totally wrong, but we need to shift your perspective a bit.

In this article, I’ll take you through the Instagram insights tab and discuss what you should actually look for and pay attention to if you are a smaller, but growing influencer or business.

Where are Your Insights?

Now, remember if you want to follow along with this article, you are going to need a business or creator account to access the free insights Instagram provides. You can change that in your settings, and no it doesn’t impact your account negatively.

Instagram promised.

If you’re on your homepage, you’ll see that Instagram moved the Insights button for easy access. This is a 2020 update I didn’t actually hate, shocker!

After you click into the Insights tab, you’re going to see an overview that can be organized by either the last 7 days or last 30 days. If I’m trending an account and analyzing content, I typically go to 30 days because you can pick up themes more easily that way.

Not much really happens in 7 days unless you’re a celeb that had a very huge blunder.

This is going to give you a snapshot of how many accounts you reached, content interactions, and follower insights. You also get the chance to review all the content you specifically shared.

We’re going to jump into each section with the important insights to consider. But first:

Why are Insights Important?

It seems obvious, but then it’s also not because of the psychological game Instagram plays with all of us.

Insights are not just a way for you to track vanity metrics. These are the metricas that don’t actually indicate your success or mark accomplishment of your goals, but are really easy to get wrapped up in.

I’m looking at you, follower count.

The great thing about Instagram insights is that the app actually tells you what content resonated with your audience so you can review and make more content that continues to do the same. That’s the key to optimization in social media.

You create more of the content you love AND your audience loves. Then you get a better sense of who your audience is and how to capture their attention.

All this by just using the clues that Instagram hands you for free.

Ok, so which insights are actually important?

  • Engagement. This outlines how your audience interacted with your content vs. the total number of followers or audience size of your platform. It’s a good indicator of whether your content is resonating.
  • Reach and Impressions. These tell you how far your content is going and how many people are seeing it.
  • Individual Post Actions. This seems similar to engagement, but Instagram does give you good info on actions taken on your posts. You can use this to your advantage.

Reach

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Come on and hop into the reach section with me.

Again, instagram is going to show you stats on a 7 day or 30 day time period. It will compare your current 7 or 30 day period to the last period of the same duration.

Green means you increased those particular stats and grey means that it either stayed the same or you experienced a dip.

In this tab, you’re going to see your overall reach and impression as an aggregate for all the content you posted in your selected time period. Impressions are the total number of times your account/content was seen. Reach is the number of times a new user saw or interacted with your account.

So here’s what to focus on here:

  • Overall reach and impressions are tracked so that you can see daily spikes and weekly trends. This indicated if particular pieces of content was seen by more people and you can begin analyzing what that content was and why.
  • Higher reach usually means that Instagram continued to show the content to more and more users because it recognized the popularity of it from your current audience. The algorithm sort of does drop releases to more and more people if the content proves to resonate.
  • You’ll see actions taken on your profile. This is good to keep track of if the goals you are tracking align with the actions taken. For example, if you are tracking affiliate links or selling items, you can check who clicked your bio link.
  • You can also take a look at your content ranked by reach. This again helps you understand what content is performing best and starts your task of understanding why.

Content Interaction/Engagement

This section is fairly self explanatory, but it does show you what people are doing with your content. Well, the important stuff at least.

These are indicators of engagement and we again use them to identify popular content so that we can determine trends and understand what our audience wants to see.

The nice thing is that you actually get your content ranked by performance in the metric you’re checking.

I will click into the posts section where there are options for how you want to organize and rank your content. You get the choice from categories of type (posts, videos, stories, etc.), key performance metrics, and the time period.

The “Post Interactions” selection under metrics will be your engagement. This is usually what I select here to start analyzing my content. It’s summarizing all actions taken on that post.

You can select any action from the list to track depending on what your main objectives are for your platform.

Then, I usually set the time period to 30 days or 3 months (noting you get more options here) to establish trends. Again, 7 days might be too small of a snapshot here.

Once you’ve made those selections, Instagram organizes your content and spits out exactly what you need. This is pretty awesome, actually.

If we keep our focus on engagement, here are your next steps:

  • Review visual trends in your top 9 posts to get a sense of what your audience is looking for in your posts and what they are attracted to.
  • Then, review subject matter to get a sense of what topics interest your audience the most.
  • Keep notes of all these so that you can pick up trends and plan future content to align with them.

You can follow this process for virtually all the content you create on Instagram.

BUT the point here is not to just create content your audience loves and you are not passionate about. That’s also a fail.

The point is actually to get a better understanding of your audience and create content that intersects what you love and what they love. Should be one in the same.

The best influencers and businesses have a deep understanding of who their audience is and are able to create content that meets both needs.

Audience

Ok, the most anxiety inducing tab, at least for me, is the Audience tab. Like I’ve said before, a lot of the time it feels like this is what your insights are for.

The truth is that this section is not the most important. Repeat, IS NOT. Because just tracking the number of followers each day is mind numbing and isn’t a productive use of your time.

Instead, you can look at heavy action days where you grew and determine if there was specific content that caused it in relation to the reach and actions taken that we just discussed. Ah, now see how these are all connected?

Then, check out demographics of your audience. You can use this identifying data to create content that is best suited for the age, region, etc. of your audience rather than just shoot in the dark.

Lastly, review when your audience is active. Now, I will say that your posting time is not going to make or break the success of your content. However, why not use every advantage you have?

Just don’t break your own back trying to post at a time that isn’t convenient and adds more stress to your life. You can set your audience on a schedule as well.

Individual Instagram Post Insights

While I personally prefer reviewing insights from a bird’s eye view, you do gain more insight from the information Instagram provides at a post level.

Yes, you can check out engagement again on post by post basis, but there are a few other good nuggets to be found here.

  • You can track how many people moved from the post to your profile, or clicked the link in your bio, or sent you emails. This is great if you have goals outside of engagement.
  • You can also see if this post was shown mainly to your existing audience or new accounts.
  • That also tells you if this post gained new followers for you. If your post was mainly shown to your existing audience, then new followers would not be expected. BUT, if the reach went beyond your existing audience, then you can guess that this content was popular and you may want to track what you did.
  • You can also check out where your content was shown. Was it on people’s profiles, the explore page, or hashtags? Depending on where it was shown, you may need to strategize your hashtags or determine what kind of content is getting to the explore page.

A hint on the follower part here: If your content is getting great reach outside of your existing audience, but you’re not gaining new followers. Revisit your profile. There may be a disconnect in what they’re seeing there or in your bio that isn’t sealing the deal.

Take a tour of your own content through your audience’s eyes. Is what you created eye-catching to you?

The Dangers of Instagram Insights

I’ve been alluding to it throughout this article, but there is a danger to constantly obsessing over your insights. I know because I’ve been there and have fallen back into the trap numerous times.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers and lose focus on quality. It’s ok if that happens. Instagram and most social platforms are designed to make us think that way.

What’s important is to not stay there.

When I first switched over to a business account to access insights it was a mindset shift for me to take content more seriously. I also originally did it with the intention of only tracking those vanity metrics.

I was too worried about how many people liked what I posted and I would get so frustrated when a post didn’t reach a high engagement percentage.

THAT IS NOT THE POINT OF YOUR INSTAGRAM INSIGHTS!

Instagram provides you these metrics so that you can analyze, implement and grow. It’s not all there for you to obsess over who likes and who doesn’t or who follows and who doesn’t.

If you think about it, how has knowing who liked or who unfollowed helped you reach your goal with your platform? Be honest. Probably not at all.

Insights are not an indicator of the quality of your work. They are there to help your strategize on how to deliver better value to your audience and reach them in a more meaningful way. Grow your impact.

If you’re stuck in the trap, make sure to connect with me and I can help you work through it!

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I am a freelance men's fashion and lifestyle digital content creator, social media coach and consultant, and brand strategist. Follow along for articles related to style how-to's, fashion trends, and content creation business behind the scenes and strategy tips.

Denver, CO
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