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SEO | Apr 19
Jessica Malnik on December 7, 2020 (last modified on March 4, 2021) • 17 minute read
What’s considered a healthy follower growth rate on Instagram?
Do you know the difference between reach and impressions?
Or, how many people who view your Instagram story ads end up buying one of your products?
If you are using Instagram as a marketing channel for your business, these are the metrics you need to track to improve the performance of your campaigns.
Let’s dive in.
The metrics you track on Instagram will vary depending on your business’s goals.
In fact, for nearly 75% of the social media marketers we surveyed, they are primarily using Instagram as a channel to increase brand awareness.
If increased brand awareness is one of your team’s marketing goals, here are some examples of metrics you might want to track: Impressions, reach, follower growth, and shares.
However, if you are more focused on driving brand engagement, you might focus on metrics, such as engagement ratio, likes, comments, and story views and reactions.
Editor’s Note: Looking to see what is driving the most engagement on Instagram these days? Here are 20 examples of engaging Instagram posts.
In addition, Instagram is only continuing to grow as a marketing channel. In fact, nearly 80% of the social media marketers we surveyed spend as much or more time and resources on Instagram as Facebook.
The quickest way to see a snapshot of your Instagram metrics is to go to the right-hand corner of your profile page on the Instagram app and click on Insights.
Then, you can view metrics, like follower growth, interactions, top posts, and shares, among many additional metrics.
Editor’s Note: If you are looking to visualize these metrics in a dashboard, here is how you can use our Instagram business profile integration to quickly see reach, impressions, and follower growth.
When it comes to measuring your Instagram performance, it can be helpful to think about tracking metrics in four main buckets:
In this section, we’re going to take a closer look at the top metrics you might want to track in each of these buckets.
“If your campaign is in any way going to be successful, then there has to be interest from the audience to want to know more,” says Jane Flanagan of Tacuna Systems. “Follower growth is a very important metric as it allows us to judge the effectiveness of our campaign in creating brand awareness.”
For example, Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Services says, “At Growth Hackers, we’re data-driven, growth-driven, performance-driven, and results-driven so we tell our clients to focus on KPIs that move the needle, not on vanity metrics such as the number of followers or likes.
However, for Instagram, it’s a little bit different. We use Instagram mostly for social proof and brand awareness. For most brands, Instagram isn’t a channel to get direct sales but rather a channel to keep their brands in people’s minds.
We believe that Instagram marketing is a long-term strategy focusing on building brand awareness and strengthening brand identity. Therefore, this is the only channel with Pinterest, we actually believe that counting the number of followers as well as the engagement your posts get is important.”
Editor’s Note: Looking to visualize your follower growth along with other key account health metrics? Use this Instagram Account Overview Dashboard.
“We need to know where our engagement is coming from – geographically speaking,” says Josh Stomel of Turbo Finance. “This can help in a number of ways. It can show us which areas we need to target more heavily to increase engagement, as well as regions that are performing well and may be ready for additional marketing efforts.”
Alexandra Zamolo of Beekeeper adds, ”This can help us build other strategies for other campaigns, as well as better understand where to direct our marketing budget in the future.”
“I find it extremely beneficial to track Instagram comments,” says Al McMordie of Big Al’s Sports Picks. “While likes are nice, it shows a much deeper level of engagement when someone actually joins in on the conversation.”
Alejandro Rioja of So influential says, “For me, the most important metrics for Instagram campaign performance tracking is comments received. It helps us identify how engaging our content is! While likes are easy to get, post comments indicate that your content is impactful enough to make followers leave their feedback. This type of engagement is significant in community building and helps you see if your content strategy is working as desired.”
Ekta Swarnkar of Tia Says agrees, “The one thing that I find most helpful is the engagement I receive on my posts.
Whether it be comments, likes, or profile visits. The graph tells me that my audience is liking and engaging with my content and that gives me the motivation to create more.”
Tracking comments isn’t just for organic posts. It is just as important for any ads you run.
Andrew Clark of Stacks Mobile adds, “For awareness, the key indicator is comments, as this boosts organic views of the ad and tells us that the creative was compelling enough for someone to stop and type out a quick note.”
“Using a social analytics tool that allows you to track keywords or hashtags related to your campaign can give you a panoramic view of your reach, impressions, and engagement,” says Mariana O’Connor of Keyhole. “This gives you an accurate measurement of your performance and how your audience is responding to your campaign.”
“Engagement is number 1 for me,” says Daniel Heuer of Copyfluent. “Engagement is one of the few ways you can really sort through the fake followers and bots to see how your marketing is working for you.”
Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging says, “Engagement measures your reach. The more people you reach, the greater the number of people who enter your marketing funnel and the better your chance for sales. Also, when you engage, Instagram’s algorithms increase your visibility to the people who engaged with your content. When they engage, Instagram believes they enjoy your content and shows more of your content to them.”
David Dsouza of Delta Growth adds, “Organic engagement portrays the audience’s perception of the campaign.
Engagement for a campaign is defined with the combination of Likes + Comments + Share on stories/regram + Follower growth + Website visits + Profile Visits.
A good campaign performance depends on the ratio of organic and paid engagement balance. If you are promoting your campaign heavily, it leaves less space for organic traction to be defined.
Timely small bursts of paid promotion helps you build on the campaign’s organic engagement which will help you define the actual performance of the marketing campaign.
Long story short, don’t rely on just paid metrics to define whether your campaign performance is successful or not.”
“You can have a million followers, but you won’t be seen if they don’t engage with your posts,” says Eric Bergman of Serendipit Consulting. “Instagram puts HUGE importance not just on the followers but the engagements. No engagements mean your posts won’t show. Which means you won’t get shown. So make sure to have fun, meaningful posts that drive engagements.”
“One metric that we see to be very important when tracking Instagram campaign performance is website traffic,” says Travis Killian of Everlasting Comfort. “The main reason for our Instagram campaign is to bring visitors to our site so that they can learn more about our company goals and our products. Engagement is nice, but it isn’t what drives our sales.”
John Ross of Test Prep Insight says, “By far and away the most important metric when it comes to analyzing the success of an Instagram marketing campaign is referral traffic. The whole point of Instagram, in the end, is to get users over to your website to purchase your product or service. And referral traffic measures Instagram’s impact on traffic to your site.
However, getting people to link over to your site from Instagram is not easy — the only clickable link on the platform is within your bio. The other alternative is to use a URL right in your post. Though it won’t be clickable, it is just another avenue to get folks over to your desired page.
In any event, use UTM parameters (which are tags you can build into URLs), which allow you to see in Google Analytics where users were referred from, namely Instagram. Measuring your referral traffic consistently can help you build better campaigns.”
Bernadett Dioszegi of Bannersnack adds, “On Instagram, it’s challenging to create posts and ads that encourage followers and users to visit your website. The place where you can display a clickable link is inside your bio or within your captions.
The best way to track referral traffic from your campaign is with UTM parameters. With the help of these parameters, you will know exactly where the user referred from, you will be able to analyze data regarding the users’ activity (who copied the link into their browser, send it via message, etc.)
Also, in Google Analytics you can take a look at your social network referral traffic, to check the quality of the traffic your Instagram campaign sent to your website (ex.: Sessions, Pageviews, Avg Session Duration). Analyzing this data you will know if your strategy is going well, if you are targeting the right people with the right and relevant message.”
“The main metric I consider to be the most important for community growth and conversions is shares/saves,” says Ro Sanchez of She.Slips. “The reason behind this is simple: when a post is being shared, your community is helping that post reach new eyes that you may have not reached otherwise. This action can be considered as free promotion for your brand.
In regards to the saves, this is also a strong indication that the post was received as valuable content. Saving a post is the same as bookmarking a page to refer back to it for later use.”
In addition, Shika Lakshman of Online Optimism adds, “People might not click through/shop directly on Instagram, but saves, tagging friends, and more means they’ll revisit the posts and you can also remarket to them.”
Lauren Espach of Spitfire Inbound says, “Interactions, which is the all-encompassing term for any type of engagement such as likes (double taps), comments, story, and video views. If you are doing paid Instagram marketing, it also includes clicks through to your website or landing page”
Melanie Musson of AutoInsuranceCompanies.com adds, “The interactions metric gives us information on how many people were impacted by a campaign enough to respond to the post. That information helps us build even more engaging marketing campaigns.”
“Reach has quickly become one of the most important Instagram marketing metrics for campaigns,” says Rachel Nelson of Margaux Agency. “Reach reflects the number of unique views on your post or account, rather than if your post was seen multiple times by the same viewer. This allows you to track what posts have the highest amount of diverse exposure, helping you measure brand awareness and the value of your posts.”
John Barnes of Lamps Plus says, “Remember that this is different from impressions. If someone views a post 18 times, that will be 18 impressions. However, the reach only counts each individual visitor.”
Derin Oyekon of Reel Paper adds, “You will need a business Instagram account to see the insights of how many people have seen your posts. It’s a good tool for you to use especially if you are trying to see how many people you have reached.
Impressions are also a good tool to track. Unlike reach, impressions tell you how many people have seen your post, i.e., say a person sees your post five times, that will count as five impressions, whereas one person only counts as one reach. Making it a great metric of insight for how people view your posts.”
“Record the number of views your stories are getting and make them highlights,” says Jacob Lundy of Vye. ”Instagram Stories are the newer trend, not feed posts. Take advantage of them.”
“The most important metric in Instagram are the people who react or comment to your stories,” says Wendy Margolin of Sparkr Marketing. “If you ask questions related to your product or services, you can gauge interest and then follow up with more information. This is especially good for list building if you can send them over to a blog or freebie landing page of yours.”
Joey Campbell of Sundae adds, “It’s really enlightening to track the engagement of your Instagram stories, since they have such a short shelf life. You can easily use Instagram’s Insights tool to track this metric and rate the engagement.”
“I consider the retention rate to be one of the most important metrics on Instagram,” says Jordana Mark of Make Your Mark. “Retention rate on your stories and videos. It’s important to see how many people are watching your full video or if you’re wasting your time. If you start talking about something in your story and you see a lot of people drop off at a certain point- then you can learn from in terms of what to do or not to do next time.”
“The most important metric for us is the CTR (click-through rate) as it indicates the rate of people who viewed the ad and clicked on it,” says Anne-Heloise Pagliardini of AHBC Group. “It is a great indicator of creative quality as it tells us how well the campaign performs vs. other campaigns. The higher the CTR the better!”
Krissy Selda of FitRated says, “This is important because this allows you to see if your ads are engaging to your target audiences. If you are running multiple campaigns, comparing the CTRs makes it easy to see which campaigns are performing well and which ones are underperforming.”
Niles Koenigsberg of FiG Advertising + Marketing adds, “While the goal of each Instagram marketing campaign is different, most social media marketing efforts ultimately aim to drive additional traffic to the company website. You could be seeing great numbers for your follower growth rate, your daily impressions, and your engagement rate, but those metrics can rarely be correlated to increases in sales or leads.
If your company is trying to leverage Instagram to acquire new business, then you need to focus on the click-through rates to your website. Is traffic increasing to your site? Are visitors converting to leads? How can you adjust your content to improve your Instagram website traffic?”
“Bounce rate,” says Filip Silobod of Land and Aerial Surveys. “Social media traffic can have a high bounce rate. We think that if we can get traffic from Instagram that checks more than one page, that those are good visitors.”
“On your next Instagram campaign, you may want to track the engagement that ends in an actual qualified lead,” says Thomas Bolt of Big EVAL. “On social media, we find that many users like to comment, share, and like posts, but may not really need the service or product offered. Therefore, it’s important to discover and track how much of this engagement actually converts to qualified leads.”
Josh Krakauer of Sculpt adds, “The same metric you use to track your other marketing campaigns.
If your team’s primary KPI is attributed MQLs, your (likely Paid) Instagram marketing campaign should measure the same.
If Instagram is a component of a larger awareness goal, then total reach or views is your likely metric.
It’s tempting to measure one-off KPIs for one-off channels. After all, Instagram provides access to an assortment of interesting engagement metrics to monitor. But question whether you should be tracking completely unique metrics for each channel, when every channel should ladder to a larger strategic goal.”
Editor’s Note: Looking to see how your Instagram campaigns affect your overall pipeline? Check out this Inbound Social Media Performance Dashboard.
“When tracking Instagram performance, it’s imperative to do the research and know exactly the type of customer you’re hoping to attract,” says Viola Eva of Flow Research Collective. “Therefore, you need to know if those goals are being accomplished in the end result. So, be sure to track your demographics. You’ll need to know that your ad campaign is performing well in those markets. If not, you will more than likely have to make a pivot. Everyone should always have a Plan B – ready to execute whenever needed.”
Editor’s note: Use this Linkedin Demographics dashboard template to look at the followers on your company’s Linkedin. It lets you know what industries and roles have enjoyed your marketing message.
“Sales will always determine if a campaign is successful or not,” says Elijah Litscher of The Loop Marketing. “What is your ROI? Sales assist in finalizing these details and determining what really worked vs what didn’t.”
Andrea Loubier of Mailbird adds, “We always track not just the leads, but the actual bottom line. Directing a consumer to our site or to an offer page is fantastic, but whether that lead converts to a sale is actually what determines whether we pivot on our current marketing strategies.”
“Impressions matter because it shows how many people have seen your post,” says Andre Oentoro of Milkwhale. ”It also shows you which posts didn’t receive any likes or comments. By looking at these, you can figure out which content is doing well and which isn’t.”
Spencer Kammer of Laughing Samurai adds, “Impressions are by far the most important Instagram metric to gauge whether or not your campaign is performing well. But the truth is vanity metrics, such as likes, comments, and shares directly affect your impressions and should not be ignored.
However, impressions will always be the best indicator of whether or not your post is performing well. You’ll know that the Instagram algorithm found your post engaging by the number of impressions you received and you will know why you received those impressions by looking at how many saves, shares, comments, and likes your post earned.”
Bottom line – if you are using Instagram as a marketing channel, then you need to measure and track your performance. The metrics you choose should align with your goals. If your business is mainly focused on brand awareness, the metrics you track will look very different than other companies that are primarily focused on sales. Once you have your metrics established, make sure you are tracking them at least monthly – ideally weekly – so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
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