Whatever your goal for Instagram — whether it’s to grow followers, drive traffic to your website or increase sales — you need to not only keep an eye on the photo-sharing social network’s analytics, but you also need to truly understand them. Knowing how to analyze this data can help you reach your target audience better, post more engaging content and develop a more effective social strategy that’ll help you reach your goals.

If you’re not looking at the numbers on a regular basis, you may miss key insights and opportunities. For example, you could be posting too frequently or not enough; targeting the wrong audience; or even overlooking comments or mentions that could lead to future brand partnerships.

However, sorting through the amount of data in Instagram analytics and determining how it informs your social decisions can be overwhelming. This comprehensive guide will explain why Instagram analytics matter and will walk you through various metrics so you can develop and implement a winning Instagram strategy.

Why you should use Instagram analytics

There are numerous ways to use Instagram for business, but, through product improvements and new feature rollouts, Instagram has made it clear that its chief goal is to connect brands and consumers. The photo-sharing platform, while originally optimized for discovery and inspiration, is now focused on perfecting the e-commerce experience. Essentially, Instagram is becoming an online version of a mall. And given the recent news about Instagram testing the removal of likes, brands must develop new strategies for measuring content performance beyond how many times a post’s heart icon is tapped.

Recently, Instagram’s updates and additions have included a lot of new metrics and data points that social media marketers haven’t needed to consider in the past. And even if your goal for social media isn’t optimizing for sales, Instagram’s commerce-focused analytics are important in helping you understand three important things:

  1. People: Who’s engaging with your content?
  2. Content: Which content is engaging?
  3. Products: Which products within that content are getting the most engagement?

When you consider these collectively — who’s viewing your posts, how is your content performing, and what value is your content driving — you’ll be able to curate your feed in a smarter way and improve your overall content strategy.

For example, if you have an e-commerce website, you may be particularly interested in which product posts or Stories are getting the most engagement. You may find that using Instagram Stories as part of your influencer marketing strategy results in more swipes to your website, which may result in extending your contract with that influencer.

“Instagram can provide great value to e-commerce, but you have to look at how your Instagram is driving traffic and revenue,” says David Fein, project manager at Curalate. “Is your ‘link in bio’ actually driving traffic? Which links in your Stories are working? Which ones aren’t? Which particular products are driving revenue? If a certain product is doing well, capitalize on that by promoting it more with your posting strategy and influencer relationships. Essentially, use analytics to see how your content performs and then take these cues to drive your social strategy for the following week.”

How to access Instagram Insights

Instagram analytics, which are known as Instagram Insights, are available only to business profiles and creator accounts. You can access analytics from your account profile by clicking on the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the screen and then selecting “Insights,” as illustrated below.

accessing instagram insights

If you don’t yet have a business profile, follow these instructions to make the switch. If you only recently transitioned to a business profile, you may not yet have data available in Instagram Insights. Also, keep in mind that Instagram can provide you with analytics information about posts and stories that you published after you switched to a business profile.

Now that you’ve accessed Instagram Insights, you can view analytics data for the past week only, so it’s important to regularly view and assess this data to see how your content is performing. However, while a week’s worth of data is useful for analyzing current performance, focusing only on this short period is the social media marketing equivalent of operating with blinders on.

There’s undeniable value in having access to all your analytics, so you can identify trends and modify your social strategy accordingly. Having access to all your data allows you to identify historical and seasonal trends and gain long-term community-building insights. It also allows you to marry historical and short-term data so you can modify your content strategy based on what’s currently working and what has performed well for you in the past. Providing this long-term and in-depth data is just one of the perks of Curalate.

“Curalate gives insights across your entire life span,” Fein says. “You can look really deep into historical trends. You can look into a pretty in-depth analysis of followers gained and lost over time. It can even give you a dollar amount for what value an influencer is providing your brand.”

But even if you’re only using Instagram Insights, there’s still a lot of valuable information you can glean, which we’ll explore in more detail below.

Metrics you can view in Instagram Insights

When you access analytics, you’ll see three tabs — content, activity, and audience — and within these, you can dive deeper into specific types of data.

The Content Tab

The first tab that appears is your content from the week. Here, you’ll see the number of posts you made that week. These posts aren’t displayed in chronological order; they’re displayed by the number of times they were viewed, allowing you to easily see which recent content had the greatest reach.

instagram insights: content tab

If you click on “See all” of your feed posts, Instagram Insights will provide you with a bit more historical data by displaying all of your posts in the past year, ordered by the posts’ engagement, as illustrated below.

Engagement is any user interaction with a post, including likes and comments.

Why content matters

Engagement with your posts is important to pay attention to because it reveals what type of content is getting your audience’s attention, allowing you to tweak your content strategy as you go. For example, if you notice that photos that have a certain style or use a specific filter perform exceptionally well, you may employ this tactic more frequently in the future.

Engagement is especially important if you’re using Instagram for ecommerce because users who are engaging with your brand are more likely to convert. “These are the people who are most likely to visit your website and make purchases, so it’s important to look at these metrics in the context of the larger picture,” Fein says. “For example, if you have a post that has high engagement, it’s clearly resonating in some way. But how is that engagement being captured to connect the consumer to on-site purchases? In other words, is there actual engagement with your products, or is that engagement ending right there on Instagram? Curalate can help you answer those questions.”

The Activity Tab

When you click into the Activity tab in Instagram Insights, you can view data about your account’s interactions and discovery.

instagram insights: activity tab

Interactions are the actions taken from your account within a specific week and include the following:

  • Profile visits: Number of profile views for the week
  • Website Clicks: Number of times users clicked the link on your profile page
  • Emails: Number of times users clicked the “email” button on your profile page

Why activity matters

This data provides you with a good overview of how your audience is engaging with you on Instagram each week. For example, if you find that profile visits and website clicks are growing weekly, it’s clear that your audience is active and engaged with your brand. However, if these numbers remain low or even decrease, you’ll want to adjust your strategy and find new ways to get your audience excited about what you’re doing or interested in learning more about your brand.

activity tab: discovery

Scroll down past interactions to display information about Discovery, or the Instagram accounts that your account reached within the specified time period. The Discovery section of analytics provides you with the following:

  • Reach: How many Instagram accounts your posts reached
  • Impressions: Number of times your posts were viewed

Why discovery matters

These numbers provide a good overview of how your content is performing from week to week, in terms of how many people it’s reaching and how many views it’s receiving. For example, in the screenshot above, you can see that reach increased from the previous week by 983 and that impressions increased by +54,346. This indicates that the current week’s Instagram posts are performing better than the previous week’s posts.

You can use this data to try to determine what may have prompted the change in impressions from week to week. Perhaps you launched a new product that your audience was excited about, or maybe you hosted a giveaway that enticed users to share in order to increase their chances of winning. Identifying what’s working or not working for your audience will allow you to improve future strategy.

The Audience Tab

The tab to the right of “Activity” provides information about your account’s audience and includes the following information about the users who follow your account:

  • Top locations of your followers by city and country
  • Age Range of your followers
  • Gender of your followers
  • Followers average times when your followers are on Instagram by hour and by day of the week

instagram insights: audience, view 1  instagram insights: audience, view 2

Why audience matters

This data can inform you if you’re reaching your target audience or perhaps if there’s an audience for your content or product that you weren’t previously aware of. Or, if your audience is in a younger age range, you may want to post to Instagram or Instagram Stories more frequently, because younger demographics tend to be more active on Instagram.

Once you understand more about your overall audience, you can look at individual posts to see how your content resonates with your audience.

Understanding the data

When interpreting data from Instagram analytics, it’s important to have your account’s goals in mind, so you can determine if your content is accomplishing them:

  • Build brand awareness. If your goal with Instagram is to build brand awareness, you’ll want to pay particular attention to metrics like your follower count, impressions and reach, and the number of likes and comments your posts receive.
  • Drive traffic. If you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, and you have high engagement but no profile clicks, you may want to consider ways you can use your posts to entice followers to visit your profile and click.

While there’s a lot of information available in Instagram Insights, keep in mind that you’re limited to data within the past week, so, although you’re seeing a part of the puzzle, it’s not the whole picture:

  • For a more comprehensive and user-friendly look at your Instagram data, take a look at what Curalate’s dashboard offers.

“There are so many metrics, especially that Curalate offers, that can help you solve the Instagram puzzle and see what value you’re really driving for your brand — and how you can drive more,” Fein says. “While it can be difficult to connect the dots to the numbers that matter most, we help solve those pain points by showing how Instagram content ties in to both your traffic and revenue.”

Instagram Insights: Questions to consider

  • Is your follower count growing, shrinking, or remaining stagnant? While some fluctuation in numbers is normal, if you see a sudden increase in followers, it’s worthwhile to determine what led to it. For example, did an influential user tag you in a post? Or, if your follower count is decreasing, take a look at what could be causing the loss of interest. Has the type of content you’re posting changed?
  • What types of posts receive the most impressions or have the greatest reach? Do your posts about products get a lot of attention, or do posts by influencers perform better? Are users engaging with your branded content, or do one-off posts perform better? If it’s the latter, how can you optimize branded content for engagement?
  • Are you reaching your target audience? Look at your audience data to determine whether you’re reaching the demographics you’re targeting. If not, how can you better reach them? Or what audience are you reaching with your content, how are they engaging with it, and what does this mean for your brand?
  • How often should you post? Experiment with posting just once a day, and then try posting more than that. Compare the amount of engagement that you get at different posting frequencies, because different audiences will have different appetites for content. Avoid oversaturating your users’ feeds.

Individual Instagram post analytics

If you want to take a look at how a particular post performed, you can easily do this by selecting the post and clicking “View Insights,” as illustrated below.

instragram-post-analytics

Here, in addition to viewing how many likes, comments, shares, and saves a post received, you’ll be able to delve even deeper into the post’s performance, as illustrated in the screenshot below.

The information beneath the Interactions heading will show you how many actions were taken from your post, including profile visits and clicks to your website.

instagram post insights

Beneath this, you’ll see a heading for Discovery. Here, you’ll see how many unique Instagram accounts you reached, how many users followed you from that post, and where the post garnered impressions, as illustrated below.

instagram post discovery

Understanding the data

Drilling down into how a specific post performed can reveal a great deal of information:

  • If certain types of posts, such as product photos, lifestyle photos, or graphics are receiving more engagement, you’ll want to post more of these and see if you can recreate that success.
  • If your Instagram is shoppable, you may find that close-up photos of your products get more clicks than images featuring lots of different products in a “shop this look” format.

Questions to consider

  • Which posts are generating the most interactions? Which ones are garnering the most profile visits, website clicks, or emails? Which ones are getting the most reach and attracting new followers?
  • How are users finding your posts? Are they coming to your profile and viewing content from there? Or are they discovering your content through hashtags?

Instagram Stories analytics

Instagram Stories is a Snapchat-like feature that allows users to post videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours. They’re a great way to engage your audience, because they increase your content’s exposure, allow brands to engage with users in a personal way, help you maintain visibility in your followers’ feeds, and allow you to check your marketing tactics in real time. And Stories are hugely popular: 500 million Instagram users employ the feature each day, and one-third of the most viewed Stories are created by businesses.

There are a couple of ways you can see how your Stories are performing, depending on whether you want to view data about current Stories or you want to see historical data from Stories after the 24-hour period. To see historical information about Stories, simply access Instagram Insights the same way you did earlier, by visiting your account profile, clicking on the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the screen, and selecting “Insights.” Then, scroll past “Feed Posts” to “Stories.”

Here, you can view the number of impressions your Stories received for the past two weeks. To see how an individual story performed, simply select it, and then swipe up to reveal more in-depth data.

instagram insights stories

To access information about an active story, simply tap on the story you’re interested in, and either swipe up or tap “Seen by” in the lower left-hand corner, as illustrated below.

access instagram stories insights

From here, you’ll be able to view a variety of data, which is outlined in the following section.

Story metrics you can view in Instagram Insights

Instagram provides a lot of information about who is watching your Stories and how those viewers are interacting with them.

Viewers

To see who viewed an individual story on your account, click the eye icon. This will display a complete list of every Instagram user who saw the story.

Interactions

Tap the chart icon to the right of the eye icon to view the actions taken from an individual story. Here, you can see the number of shares and replies your story received, how many people visited your profile from the story, and how many sticker taps occurred. If you have more than 10,000 followers or are a verified user, you can also add links to your Instagram Stories, and you’ll be able to see how many users swiped up to visit the URL.

instagram stories interactions analytics

Why it matters

There’s a lot you can glean from how users engage with your Stories. If you run an e-commerce business and are trying to entice people to click to purchase products, you may find that certain types of images perform better. For example, you may find that lifestyle photos of your products get more website clicks than product photos on a neutral background. This would influence your content strategy and suggest that you spend more time and resources photographing products in natural or real-life settings instead of in a studio.

Discovery

Beneath Interactions, you’ll find a section of data called Discovery, which details information about the number of accounts that were reached with an individual story. Here, you’ll find the following metrics:

  • Impressions: Number of views the story received
  • Follows: Number of users who followed your account from the story
  • Navigation: How many users did the following:
    • Clicked back
    • Clicked forward
    • Clicked to your next story
    • Exited your story (tapped the x icon, swiped to another account’s story, returned to their own feed, or closed the Instagram app)

Why it matters

These numbers indicate how engaging your Stories are. For example, if you find that people are watching your Stories when you post office updates but exiting your Stories when you promote products, you may determine that people want to engage with your brand but are put off by your sales tactics. Or if you discover that certain Stories are getting substantially more clicks back, meaning people are watching the story again or engaging with it further, consider what about that content is appealing to users so you can recreate it in future stories.
instagram stories analytics: discovery

Understanding the data

When considering your Instagram Stories analytics, again, consider your goals for the platform:

  • If your goal with Instagram Stories is to engage with users in a more personal way, pay attention to how many users are sharing or replying to your Stories.
  • If you’re using Stories to drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to see how many people are swiping up to visit the URLs you’re linking to within your posts.

The downside to the data available in Instagram, though, is that it’s so limited — to consistently see how your Stories perform over time, you’ll have to check each story’s performance within that 24-hour time frame.

However, Curalate offers the solution to that:

curalate dashboard engagement metrics

  • Curalate’s dashboard provides unlimited access to Instagram Stories analytics. The data will never disappear.
  • You can even schedule Instagram Stories in advance to optimize views.

Instagram Stories analytics: Questions to consider

  • What kind of Stories are holding your audience’s interest? Experiment with a variety of story content — videos, polls, Q&As, and more — to determine what works best for your brand.
  • At what point are users exiting your story? This information can help develop a strategy for your Stories. For example, if you’re uploading numerous photos or videos to tell a more lengthy or complex story overall, when do viewers lose interest? Would you benefit from keeping your Stories more succinct?
  • What posts are enticing users to click? When you include links in your Stories, are there certain types of posts that lead to more clicks? If you’re promoting a product, are people clicking to learn more? If you’re teasing a blog post, are people swiping up to read the full post?

IGTV analytics

IGTV allows users to watch long-form videos both from the Instagram app and from the stand-alone app, and there are several reasons why brands should take advantage of IGTV.

You can access IGTV metrics from the Instagram app by tapping the IGTV icon, which will bring you to your IGTV channel. Next, simply select the video for which you want to view analytics.

IGTV metrics

From here, you can get more details about the reach and engagement of your IGTV videos, including the following metrics:

  • Views: Number of views a video received (views are defined as lasting at least three seconds.)
  • Engagements: Number of likes and comments a video received
  • Audience retention: Percentage of completed views a video received
  • Audience retention graph: Displays the point at which viewers quit watching a video

Understanding the data

There’s some overlap between the analytics for Instagram Stories and IGTV, but each of the platforms can be used in unique ways to help you reach your goals:

  • Keep in mind that a user must view a video for at least three seconds for it to be counted, so if your views aren’t increasing, consider why people might be clicking away immediately.
  • IGTV can tell you the exact moment a user clicked away from your video, so you can draw conclusions about why a user lost interest.

IGTV analytics: Questions to consider

  • Which videos are holding your audience’s interest? You may find that some types of IGTV content keep users watching until the end, while other types don’t perform as well. Perhaps people are watching and sharing your humorous content or product reviews, but they’re less interested in educational content or Q&As with your team.
  • At what point are viewers clicking away from your video? Because IGTV pinpoints the second that a user stops watching a video, you can use this information to inform future content. For example, if a lot of people click away from your video at the 20-second mark, consider what’s happening at that moment that made them lose interest.

Product tags analytics

Product tags on Instagram allow businesses to tag items for sale in both posts and Stories, which essentially turns Instagram into a one-tap shop that makes the platform easily shoppable. Users simply need to tap on the product’s picture to learn more about the item and make a purchase. This has three key benefits:

  1. It allows businesses to showcase products.
  2. It enables businesses to drive sales directly from Instagram.
  3. It empowers the buyer to quickly and easily make purchases.

Product tag metrics

The metrics available for product tags are essentially the same for Instagram posts or Stories; however, you can also see how many clicks your product received. For example, in the screenshot below, you can see that the product button received only two clicks from this Instagram post.

instagram product tag insights

The screenshot below is from a product post in an Instagram story, and you can also easily view the number of product button clicks here as well.

instagram product tag interactions

Understanding the data

This feature provides you with an additional way to evaluate how your business performs on Instagram by allowing you to see which product posts generate the most interest among consumers. However, while Instagram’s native shopping feature enables you to make your account shoppable, Curalate’s shop tags feature enables you to truly maximize the value of your content by distributing it among various outlets. In fact, Curalate client Dune London experienced an 82% increase in revenue from pages on its site that contained contented tagged via Curalate.

Product tag analytics: Questions to consider

  • Which products are getting the most clicks? You may find that some of your products simply get more engagement than others. Perhaps expensive items receive fewer clicks than more affordable ones because your audience is more likely to make an impulse buy on a less costly item. Or maybe your top-selling item isn’t getting as many clicks on Instagram as a less popular item, and you need to determine why.
  • Which types of posts are getting the most clicks? Do your product tags perform better in posts or in Stories? Is there something specific about the post that’s getting your audience’s attention? For example, is the product photo or video appealing for a certain aesthetic reason, or is the product teased or promoted in an intriguing way?

Making sense of the numbers

Clearly, there’s a great deal of analytics information available to Instagram users, and it can be challenging to know where to start when you’re first looking at all the data and trying to make sense of it.

“People struggle with the contextual side of analytics, digging deeper into the numbers and understanding why the numbers are the way they are,” Fein says. “But if you’re not looking at the numbers, you’re not necessarily equipped to make the best calls on optimizing an Instagram strategy for the future. You need to be able to understand those metrics and take action to optimize your Instagram strategy going forward,” he adds. “You want to look at your wins and understand why they were wins and how you can repeat those successes.”

To help make your Instagram analytics experience easier, first consider what your goals are for the platform. For example, if you’re mostly interested in growing your audience and expanding your brand’s reach, you’ll want to pay close attention to your number of followers, keep track of how that number changes over time, and consider how your content plays a role in the increase, decrease, or stagnation of that number. However, if you’re using Instagram for ecommerce, you’ll want to focus on other aspects of analytics and consider how you can increase sales, such as by making your Instagram easily shoppable.

Instagram Insights can only provide so much data, though, so if you’re serious about delving into your analytics and truly understanding what your numbers mean, Curalate can provide you with the tools to do just that.