Earlier this week I was pleasantly surprised to see a popup notification after I updated to latest version of Instagram letting me know that Instagram analytics have arrived! Instagram announced last month that their “Instagram Insights” analytics information as well as other other business tools would be rolling out, but after a quick google search and asking around in various social media communities, I found very little concrete information around the who/when/whys of the tools are rolling out other than “business profiles, insights and the ability to promote will be rolling out in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, and will be available in all regions globally by the end of the year.”
I might of done a little happy dance when I realized I had access to Instagram Insights – if you don’t already know, I’m a HUGE data nerd and am excited to see analytics information directly within the Instagram app! I currently use and recommend the paid service Iconosquare for Instagram analytics (Squarelovin is similar + free), though Iconosquare just announced their “PLUS” level membership (the lowest tier) is going up from $28.80/year to $49.00/year starting July 11, 2016, so I thought this would be a good time to evaluate whether or not it makes sense to continue to pay for analytics information when Instagram itself is now providing it for free.
If you haven’t seen the new Instagram Insights, it is similar to the analytics for Facebook pages in that it gives you data on your followers and your Instagram posts. This type of information is sooo valuable in determining if you’re actually reaching your target audience and the types of content that are resonating with your audience.
To access Instagram Insights, there is a bar chart icon next to the settings icon at the top of your Instagram profile. If you don’t see this yet, then the analytics haven’t rolled out to you yet – your Instagram account may need to be associated with a Facebook account for Insights to work (I had to confirm my Facebook Information to access Instagram Insights the first time) so if you haven’t connected it already, you may want to do that now!
Instagram Insights: Impressions, Reach, and Engagement
The first section you see tells you your number of post “impressions” for the week (number of times all of your posts have been seen) and if you swipe left, you’ll see your “reach” for the week (number of unique accounts that have seen any of your posts). These numbers are interesting because (to my knowledge) Iconosquare and other analytics tools I’ve used in the past have only tracked likes / engagement / growth but haven’t been able to provide insight as to how many people are actually seeing your posts. On a weekly level, the numbers don’t mean a ton to me, but on a per post level this is really helpful information!
Looking at my Instagram posts from the last week, I can see the post specific impressions / reach / engagement by clicking on the “View Insights” tab below each photo. It’s interesting to see engagement in relation to reach because to me, this is more indicative of audience preferences than looking at engagement in relation to overall followers. With that said, I’d love to see percentages in addition to raw numbers! #hinthint
Unfortunately, Insights are not available for historic posts beyond the last week (I’m guessing this is the last 7 days from whenever you get access to Insights), but moving forward this will be less relevant as you’ll be able to see up to 2 years of analytics.
It's interesting to see engagement in relation to reach because to me, this is more indicative of audience preferences than looking at engagement in relation to overall followers.Click To Tweet
Instagram Insights: Top Posts
Going back to the main Instagram Insights area, you can see a “Top Posts” section that you can sort by type of post (all posts / photos videos), by time period (7 days / 30 days / 3 months / 6 months / 1 year / 2 years), and filter by impressions / reach / engagement / likes / comments). This is an easy way to get a sense of what types of content your audience is engaging with so you can do more of what’s working (and less of what’s not).
Instagram Insights: Followers
Possibly the most exciting part of the Instagram Insights information is the follower demographic analytics. You can see the breakdown of your followers by gender, by age, and by location. You can also further breakdown the age ranges for either male or female followers. I’d love to be able to see more specific numbers rather than just %s or ranges, but it’s still great data to have in terms of knowing if you are attracting the right people. Mochi’s target audience includes female millenials so seeing 84% women and the largest demographic segment from 18-34 is a good sign!
For location, you can view followers by city or country – I think this would be particularly helpful for any one with a local business or local target audience, but it’s also helpful in determining which time zones the majority of your followers are in so you can post accordingly. There’s also an hourly breakdown showing when your followers are active (it’s no surprise Mochi’s audience is less active between 1am – 7am ET since the majority are in the U.S. and specifically in NYC) – and which days of the week your followers are more/less active (in Mochi’s case, it doesn’t really matter).
This level of demographic information is unique to Instagram Insights vs. other Instagram analytics tools (which makes sense since Facebook owns Instagram), and combined with the other analytics information like reach / engagement, this is definitely a helpful in knowing how to position your best content in front of the right audience at the right time.
HOW INSTAGRAM INSIGHTS COMPARES TO ICONOSQUARE ANALYTICS
While Instagram Insights provides a lot of great information, there are still a number of ways that Iconosquare sets itself apart. In particular:
- Custom time periods – The ability to sort by custom time periods is extremely valuable for evaluating campaigns whether you’re looking at top posts/ engagement over time / follower growth or other stats.
- Follower growth over time + gain/loss – Iconosquare provides more information about account growth over time both in numbers and in graph form. It also shows daily gain / loss information as well as specifically which followers followed / unfollowed so you have additional insights.
- Community details – I don’t pay a lot of attention to who’s following back / who’s not, but if you’re looking for more account specific detail regarding your followers, Iconosquare is a more helpful tool.
- Engagement as a percentage – While it’s nice to have the impressions / reach information from Instagram Insights, I’d really love the see engagement as a percentage instead of just the total number of likes / comments.
- Change from week to week or month to month as a percentage – Tracking growth or engagement from one time period to the next is something I look at pretty often, and there’s no way to really do that with Instagram Insights.
- Daily reporting – I really like getting a daily report (by email) from Iconosquare showing a quick overview of the previous day’s activities. Instagram currently doesn’t have it’s own reporting tools beyond what you see in the app (and to my knowledge that’s not something they have planned to roll out in the coming months).
For the average Instagram business user, Instagram Insights are simple (free!) way to get key analytics that can help you grow an engaged Instagram following. You probably don’t “need” additional analytics – and for the initial release of it’s business tools – I think Instagram has done a great job at providing the most valuable information in an easy to access manner. I’m interested to see if / when / how they update the Instagram Insights capabilities as they roll out additional features like business profiles and in app advertising capabilities.
With that said, I’ll probably continue to pay for Iconosquare (at least for Mochi’s account), because I like the more detailed analytics and daily reporting feature. To me, these things are worth the $4/month Iconosquare fee, but if you’re just looking for straightforward analytics, Instagram Insights might be your new BFF.
If you have access to Instagram Insights already, I’d love to hear your thoughts!