How To Grow Your Instagram Account With Data: Use Analytics To Expand Your Follower Base

By Matthew Pittman, 00:00 Thursday 14th December 2023
4 minutes read

Harness the power of Instagram Analytics: With immediate feedback, say goodbye to waiting weeks to see if your campaign worked.

Instagram Analytics (or Instagram Insights) is a powerful tool for viral growth. Gone are the old days of traditional broadcast (mass communication) media where brands would run an advertising campaign, and then have to wait a few weeks to see if sales increased. The feedback now is immediate

You don’t even need a third-party program (although those can offer additional insights into tracking metrics). Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok all have built-in insights functions to help you make sense of your account, so you can see how it’s growing…. Or not. 

So when you first click on your profile (or the three little lines icon) you will see an overview:

Instagram allows its users to review the engageability of their accounts with the Instagram Insights feature.

You can view trends for the last 7, 14, 30, or 90 days, any of which might be useful depending on your campaign. For example, if you have been running a new type of content for two weeks, it makes sense to compare it to the two weeks that came before it, so the 30-day view might make the most sense.

Using Your Followers To Your Advantage 

Follower trends are a relatively straightforward metric that still offers a lot of potential if you master how to use it. Your followers should be going up over time (as in the image below), perhaps with occasional spikes if you have content go viral or if you are just starting. 

If you go into the audience analysis and learn greater details about your followers, you will have more information to cater your brand’s personality to them (if you want).

The golden rule of social media is “know thy audience, and the more you know about your audience, the more you can create content that they will find engaging. There are many ways to grow your followers, but you need to understand them to sustain that growth.

For example: I created a new account where we weren’t sure exactly who the audience was going to be. But we had a video go viral pretty quickly, so when the surge of views and new followers calmed down, I went in to investigate further. More than 70% of the new followers were aged 18-24. This told me the account was going to be well-suited to reach college-aged students, so that was the direction we started steering the content. You might make similar judgments based not only on age but geographic location or other factors.

To access the stats page below, click on the three dots in the top right corner of your profile page and tap on insights:

Instagram allows users to monitor their total followers over a span of a few months, seeing how the follower count has fluctuated over time

Here are some more specifics about the information Instagram Insights can give you about your audience:

  1. Top Posts: Instagram Insights will highlight your top-performing posts based on engagement. Analyzing these posts can give you insights into the type of content that your audience finds most appealing.
  2. Followers Activity: Insights will reveal when your followers are most active on Instagram. Posting during these peak times can increase the likelihood of your content being seen and engaged.
  3. Content Insights: For each post, you can view specific data on its reach, impressions, and engagement. This data allows you to compare the performance of different content types and refine your content strategy.
  4. Stories Insights: If you use Instagram Stories, Insights will provide data on reach, taps forward, taps back, and exits for each story. This information can help you create more engaging and interactive stories.
  5. Audience Growth: You can track the number of followers gained and lost over a specific period. This data can help you gauge the effectiveness of your growth strategies. Some people even think this is the only metric you should be tracking (but I disagree..respectfully).
  6. Profile Visits: Insights will show how many times your profile was viewed in a given timeframe. A higher number of profile visits could indicate increased interest in your content.
  7. Website Clicks: If you have a website link in your bio, Instagram Insights can tell you how many clicks it received. This data helps you understand the traffic driven to your website through Instagram.

Maximizing Impressions To Solidify Instagram Presence

Meaning of impressions: Impressions are another major metric that any analytics program will calculate for you. Impressions are the total number of times your content was displayed. 

Meaning of reach: This differs from reach, which is the number of unique people who saw your content.

So, for example, if 500 people each saw your post three times, the reach would be 500 but you would have 1500 impressions. 

In the screenshot below, you can see where my impressions spiked each time I made a new post. To find this, tap on the three dots in the top right corner of your “profile page”, then tap on “Insights” and scroll down. 

You can track your Instagram progress using impressions as your metric, and this will show your total views spanning a few months.

Understanding the contrast between impressions and reach holds significance as it provides a valuable understanding of the consumption of your content. In the scenario where you have a lot of impressions yet limited reach, it implies that your content is repeatedly viewed by the same individuals. This aspect can be positive or negative depending on the engagement. Still, it may also imply the necessity to broaden your audience to enhance your reach.

Additional insights about impressions:

  1. Post Impressions: Instagram Insights can break down impressions for individual posts, showing you how many times each post has been viewed. This data helps you understand the popularity and reach of specific content.
  2. Story Impressions: For Instagram Stories, Insights can provide information about the total number of times your stories have been viewed. This allows you to gauge the engagement level of your Stories.
  3. Impressions by Time Period: Instagram Insights often provides data on impressions over specific periods, such as the last 7 days or the last 30 days. This data helps you track the performance of your content over time and spot trends.
  4. Content Performance Comparison: Instagram Insights can help you compare impressions between different types of content. For example, you can see how photos perform compared to videos or compare the performance of different Stories.
  5. Insights by Location: If you have a business profile with location data enabled, you might be able to see where the majority of your impressions are coming from geographically. This data can help target specific audiences.
  6. Impressions by Hashtag: In some cases, Instagram Insights can show you impressions based on the hashtags you used. This data helps you understand which hashtags are driving more visibility and engagement for your posts. Research shows that using at least one hashtag in your Instagram post can increase impressions by up to 12.6%. 

Diverse perspectives offer a clearer picture of Instagram Analytics' power. July, a fashion influencer, discovered that 80% of her new followers were in the age range of 18-24. This insight fueled a shift towards content that resonated with this demographic.

On the flip side, Michael, a startup entrepreneur in software development, found their audience engaged more during early morning hours. They began scheduling posts at this time, doubling their interaction rate.

Increase Engagement to create a buzz on Instagram

A final metric that all analytics services will provide is content interactions or engagement. Engagement is when consumers take any kind of action with your content. A like, a share, a click, a comment, or a favorite all count as an interaction. So by going into your analytics on Instagram, you will get an image that looks something like the screenshot below:

Instagram allows a user to see when they have peaked in engagements by total interactions received. For example, the user can now focus on what they posted in February and upload similar!

By examining the posts that perform exceptionally well in terms of likes, comments, and shares, you can detect patterns or similarities among them. This could involve posts showcasing:

Posts with user-generated content (UGC) receive approximately 28% higher engagement rates than standard brand-generated posts.

Once these patterns are recognized, you can integrate more of behind-the-scenes content into your overall strategy. Many brands have found creative ways to increase engagement.

Proven methods to increase engagement:

  1. Post High-Quality Content: Ensure your photos and videos are visually appealing, well-composed, and of good quality. Use editing tools if necessary to enhance your posts.
  2. Find Your Niche: Define your target audience and stick to a specific theme or niche. This helps attract and retain followers interested in your content.
  3. Use Captions Creatively: Craft engaging and meaningful captions that encourage interaction, and storytelling, or pose questions to your audience.
  4. Leverage Instagram Stories: Stories are a powerful tool for engagement. Use interactive elements like polls, questions, quizzes, and countdowns to keep your audience involved. 
  5. Utilize IGTV and Reels: Instagram's algorithm prioritizes video content. Experiment with IGTV and Reels to showcase your brand in different formats.
  6. Engage with Your Audience: Respond to comments and direct messages promptly. Show appreciation for your followers' support and encourage conversations.
  7. Run Contests and Giveaways: Organize contests or giveaways to incentivize engagement. Ask participants to like, comment, and share your content for a chance to win. These are timeless, but people love free stuff.
  8. Go Live: Live videos allow you to interact with your followers in real-time. Use it for Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes content, or exclusive announcements.
  9. Use Calls-to-Action (CTAs): Encourage your followers to take specific actions, such as Double-tap if you agree, Tag a friend who needs to see this, or Swipe up to learn more.
  10. Be Authentic: This is paramount. Showcase your brand's personality and values. Authenticity builds trust and fosters a genuine connection with your followers. This will help you in the long term to get ranked higher in the algorithm.

Also, here is a rule of thumb with engagement rates, which change as you grow:

Feedback

Of course, nothing is ever for certain with social media. A metric that increases one week with one strategy might decrease the next week even if you are using the same strategy. You need to be able to constantly reassess and rethink your ongoing content-creating and posting schedule.

Even if you master all the social media analytics tools, you still need to be able to apply any insights gained toward a new creative strategy. All of these metrics are tools in your digital tool belt, but they will not tell you how to build the house. 

Never underestimate the effect of simply spending some time browsing social media—specifically searching your product/brand area through hashtags—to help stimulate some mental clarity or generate new thinking.

Conclusion

Instagram Analytics helps in fine-tuning the timing of your posts. Remember how you can look at your follower trends and learn more about your audience? Instagram Analytics will let you see the periods when your followers are most active on the platform.

By aligning your post schedule with these peak activity times, you can enhance the chances of your content being noticed and interacted with. It will also help in optimizing your use of hashtags and crafting compelling captions. 

Depending on your audience, “compelling” might mean weird, interesting, surprising, comforting, heart-warming, shocking, or educational. By scrutinizing the performance of your posts with various hashtags, you can identify the ones that effectively increase visibility and engagement. This analysis equips you with insights on how to refine your hashtag selection and compose captivating captions for better results.

Actionable tips

To derive maximum value from your Instagram Analytics journey, here are actionable tips:

FAQ:

1.) Do all social media platforms have the same analytics/analysis features?

2.) My posts aren’t generating a lot of engagement. What’s going on?

3.) My followers don’t seem to be growing. What do I do?