It turns out that Facebook buying Instagram for $1,000,000,000 in 2012 was a really, really, REALLY good idea.
In 2019, Instagram earned $20 billion in ad revenue. Numbers like that make savvy marketers think—it’s time for me to take this platform seriously.
If you’re new to the Instagram bandwagon of 120.7 million users, or you haven’t built a following but you have an existing profile, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s too late. As long as people’s attention is on the app, it’s never too late to get started.
You just need to track different metrics than people who landed millions of followers in the first few years of Instagram’s existence. And lucky for you, Instagram has made it easy to track that.
Instagram’s revenue comes from their advertisers. The better their advertisers’ profiles can do on the app (impressions, engagement, conversions) the more money these advertisers will spend. So, Instagram has built in all of the necessary metrics into their “Insights” which can be found on any business profile.
Just click the three horizontal stacked lines (also called the hamburger) on the top right of your app screen when you’re on your profile and then click “Insights” to get to your metrics.
Now that you know where to find these metrics, let’s dive into the 5 most important metrics to track your Instagram growth.
#1: Follower Count
Okay, duh—right? But let us just explain WHY it’s so important to track your follower count when growing your Instagram profile. The main reason is that you need to know where you’re starting. The second reason is that you need to know where you want to go. That’s the bread and butter of an awesome digital marketing strategy.
For example, are you starting at 1,000 followers and looking to grow to 50,000 in 6 months?
Awesome goal, and now you can work your way backwards to say:
We need 8,167 new followers per month to reach our 50,000 goal in 6 months (50,000-1,000 divided by 6). With that goal in hand, you can start to look at the following metrics as they relate to that goal.
Impressions are an important metric for Instagram growth because they tell you how many times your posts have been seen. What’s cool about impressions is that they go further than a metric like engagement because they can tell you how many users saw your posts, even if they didn’t interact with it.
These are people in the first stage of the Customer Value Journey, Awareness. This is the stage when people learn about your business, but they haven’t necessarily interacted with you yet. They’re not liking your posts, commenting on them, or DMing you—they’re just poking around to see what you’re all about.
Impressions are a necessary Instagram metric to track because they’ll tell you how many people your posts are reaching. If this number increases, you know you’re doing something right. If it decreases, you did something that is niching your posts too much.
Just remember, impressions are equivalent to tracking the amount of visitors to your website. They’re going to tell you how many times in total your posts were viewed, and that number is going to include people who have looked at your posts several times. On the other hand, reach is like unique visitors, which we’ll explain below.
Your Instagram profile’s reach is the number of unique profiles who have seen your posts. This number is going to be smaller than your impressions because it’s only going up by one each time someone visits your profile, even if they visit it 10 times.
Like we said above, this is like the unique visitors of your website and it’s a good metric to see how many people are looking at your profile. And, just like impressions—the more eyes you can get on your profile the more users will become aware of your brand. From there, you want to lead them into Stage 2 of the Customer Value Journey, Engage, where they’ll engage with your content through likes, comments, shares, saves, and DMs.
Getting an increased engagement rate is essential to your Instagram marketing strategy because it tells the Instagram algorithm that your content is something people want to see. You don’t want to have 100,000 followers and 10 likes on your posts—the algorithm is going to think that your audience doesn’t care about your content and they’re not going to favor it on their Discover Page or your follower’s feeds.
As your Instagram following grows, you want your engagement to grow too. Engagement is:
These are not only essential for the algorithm, but they’re also important for people. People want to see that others value your content enough to like and comment on it. The more people that like your post, the higher chance you’re able to move someone from the Awareness stage to the Engage stage of the CVJ.
Your engagement is also going to be a huge indicator of what content is working best for your audience. If one post gets 100 likes and another gets 500—you’re on to something. You’ll want to track your likes and comments on each post and see which posts boost engagement.
You also want to track how many times a post was saved. A saved post lets an Instagram user come back to the post at another time through the “Saved” tab on their profile. Users who are saving your posts are pretty much showing up at your business doorstep with a neon sign saying, “PLEASE MAKE MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS!”.
#5: Instagram Story Views
The last, but not least, important metric to track your Instagram growth is your story views. Your story views will be less than the amount of people that follow you and will probably range near the amount of engagement you get on each post (likes, comments, and shares added together).
These views tell you how many people saw your 24-hour Instagram story. They’re an essential sign of your profile’s longevity. If people are willing to watch your stories—they’re interested in the content you’re putting out.
Your Instagram story views count the number of people who saw your story, but you’ll also find more metrics like the number of:
- Actions taken from your story
- Profile visits
- People moving back on your story
- People moving forward on your story
- People skipping to the next story
- People exiting your story
Yes—you can find all of those metrics for every Instagram story you publish by swiping up on the bottom of the screen when your story is playing (from your profile). You’ll want to look at how many people kept watching your stories (moving forward on your story) to know if your content is working well. If you see a huge amount of people exiting your story—your followers aren’t interested in the content you put out. Try again.
And that’s all we can do as marketers. Try and try again.
We pay attention to metrics so we know when we’re doing better than expected or worse, and if it’s the latter, we try again.
Track these metrics to nail your Instagram growth. This platform isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.