Note: There’s no way that this post will be all inclusive or up to date because of the huge scope of the internet and new websites being made every day. Feel free to reach out to me with your favorite websites/strategies if you have them.
Posting photos and being able to see likes and comments is great, and after doing it for a while you’ll be able to have a mental gist of what works and what doesn’t. Having a gist is great, but it doesn’t allow you to quantify the subtle differences (ex: I might know that pictures relating to programming do well, but maybe pictures of computers in coffee shops do better than computers on desks).
I didn’t find this out until this month, but Instagram has a lot of analytics it doesn’t make public in it’s API (this is where other websites are drawing their analytics from). For instance, the Instagram API doesn’t actually share gender of user or how many views a photo gets – if a website offers that then they’re probably trying to sort gender by something like the bio or picture recognition.
Instagram for Business
However, Instagram does offer you these statistics up in the form of a business profile for free. All you have to do is connect your Instagram account (it can be an account already in existence) to a Facebook page that you own. This is what you’ll be able to see no matter how many followers you have:
- How many times people have clicked on your website link
- How many views your photos have had
- How many unique views your profile has gotten
- How many people have clicked the “contact” button (this is added to business profiles)
- How many likes and comments there are
- How many times the photo has been viewed
- How many unique viewers a photo has
- The engagement score (likes + comments)
- How many times the photo has been bookmarked by people
It’ll also allow you to view the aggregate photos ranked according to scores (whether you want to see views/likes/etc). This is what I find most helpful when figuring out what content works and what doesn’t.
What the photo above tells me is that pictures of me on a computer do slightly better than pictures of just a computer (and both of those do much better than pictures of animals or non-related photos, even if they’re high quality photos). If I want to dig deeper I can look at what days they were posted on (weekends tend to be higher) and what time they were posted at.
After you reach 100 followers, this is what you’ll be able to see:
- Age ranges of followers (also able to view age ranges by gender)
- The top 5 cities where your followers are from
- The top 5 countries where your followers are from
- Graph chart of how active your followers are on certain days of the week
- Graph chart of how active they are over 24 hour periods
All of this data is great if you’re trying to figure out what to post when – and it gives you information you can actually act on.
Third Party Websites
There are probably a hundred third party websites that utilize the Instagram API. One that I’ve found (and like) is websta.me – it kind of tries to do what Instagram for business does but the real selling point is that it’ll send you daily email of your stats – followers, following, comments, likes, etc. The only caveat is that you have to login to the website that day to get the email later on in the day.
Using those stats websta graphs based on time, but I personally find more value by tracking them in a spreadsheet. With the spreadsheet I can actually see the average followers/day, average likes/day which helps me track follower behavior based on photos and timing.
What I discovered is that contrary to my personal instinct, posting every day actually does lead to an increase in the number of net followers I gain each day. I also learned that after huge spikes (such as a day with +45 followers) for the next few days the net follower count tends to be lower or even negative. I suspect that’s largely related to automatic follows/unfollows.
If you’re interested in tracking patterns I’d highly suggest signing up for a website like this (I’m in the midst of planning my own so I can stop manually entering data). I haven’t found one that tracks or stores the difference/day automatically, but I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere.