Instagram has quickly become the darling of the visual marketing space. The platform, focused on sharing moments of your life as they happen, is known for it’s simple, singular focus on images. In fact, Instagram was so focused on images that up until the release of Instagram advertising, clickable links were only allowed in an accounts profile. In spite of the lack of links, millions of marketers were attracted to the app and were in need of Instagram analytics to learn how to grow their brand.
Having great Instagram analytics means having the best data-tracking tools available for measuring up-to-the-minute trends to help grow your brand. With the recent introduction of Instagram advertising, tracking this data is more important than ever before.
So what Instagram analytics need to be front and center in your dashboard? Let’s take a look.
On Instagram, hashtags are everything. With so few options for generating meaningful Instagram analytics (at least until we release our Instagram dashboard), hashtags are often the only way to tease out otherwise hidden trends. The better you can track them and compare them, the more insights you’ll have.
What hashtags should you be tracking? For a start, track the hashtags that are most relevant to your industry, your company and your competition.
Hashtags that drive engagement
Not all hashtags are created equal, and some hashtags have a much stronger influence on the number of follows, like and comments your posts ultimately generate. By A/B testing your Instagram hashtags, you can quickly identify the ones that best drive engagement. Use that data to amplify your results, then test again.
By continually refining your tests, you can find the best-performing hashtags of the moment. If you’re unsure where to start, PostPlanner came up with a list of the best Instagram hashtags for gaining followers:
Likes and Comments
Likes are a relatively weak kind of Instagram metric, and not a good thing to base your brand’s current performance on. A like represents a simple tap on the screen, and it can often be unclear what element of the image your fans are liking. Is it the content of the photo? The brand? The hashtag (especially ones like “#like4like”)?
Comments, on the other hand, are a very strong indicator. Not only does it take more time to type a comment, but the comments themselves are a treasure trove of data about your fans and their interests.
This may surprise you, but similar to likes, one of the least meaningful performance indicators is your overall follower number. It’s great to have tons of fans, but knowing the rate at which you’re gaining new followers is far more important and insightful. Your follower growth rate is a strong indicator of the current interest in your brand, and there's almost always something to learn from when it rises or falls.
A related Instagram tip is to track is the number of relevant follows (people actually interested in your brand) versus hashtag followers (people who follow other users because they used a specific hashtag, like #instagood). You can tell the difference by when a person follows you – was it after you posted an image using #instagood or was it at an unrelated time?
Clicks from Instagram profile
Until the open release of Instagram advertising, One of the most common complaints brand managers have about Instagram as a marketing platform is the inability to post clickthrough links. Without purchasing ads, Instagram limits you to a single “tappable” URL on your brand’s profile page. While this can be limiting, tracking these clickthrough provides you with very strong data about overall brand interest.
If your number of clickthroughs from Instagram is going up, you’re doing something right. You can even add UTM codes to your profile link for additional tracking options, and even specific promotions.
Visits from shortened links within posts
While Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts to be clickable, it is possible to post short, easy-to-remember URLs along with your images. By using a custom URL shortener like Bit.ly, you can easily create unique and trackable links for your individual campaigns:
Tracking the performance of those links can give you valuable insight on how your Instagram promotions are being received. This is a metric that’s absolutely worth the hassle to track. A follower who is willing to type in a custom URL has an exceptionally high level of engagement.
With Instagram’s new ads API widely available, the data it’s providing is becoming more and more valuable to marketers. This API provides Instagram advertisers access to Facebook’s targeting tools, creating an entire range of new metrics to keep track of.
But Instagram’s advertising data shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for the fundamental metrics on this list. After all, that data is meant to drive more brands towards paying for ads, not towards seeing great results from free marketing efforts. For a robust Instagram marketing strategy, the more data you have from third-party sources, the better off you’ll be.
By using these fundamental metrics in combination with other tools, you’ll soon be able to build incredibly effective Instagram marketing campaigns for your brand.
Unleash the power of Tailwind for Instagram!
Melissa Megginson is resident Marketing Manager and Cat Lady at Tailwind, the leading Pinterest tool for brands. Melissa specializes in content creation, social media, blogging, PR outreach and pretty much all things marketing. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MelMegg.