There's no denying Instagram's status as a power player in the social media world. As of December 2014, it has reached over 300 million active users. A Pew Research study states that "almost half (49%) of Instagram users are on the platform daily, with 32% who say they go on Instagram several times a day."
With that said, the opportunities to connect with customers on Instagram are plentiful. One way to do that is by using their freshly announced expanded ad platform. Then again, most brands don't have the budget to do that - plus they'd like to see how more ads will affect organic reach and user engagement.
Beyond ads, many brands are still in the dark as to what the best strategy is to improve their efforts on Instagram. While there are various ways to create awesome Instagram images, that's an entirely different discussion to have. Let's focus on how to leverage data to improve your strategy and help your brand grow online.
How to Measure Analytics on Instagram
Instagram does not currently offer analytics as part of its service. But there are other resources and tools to work around that barrier and get the rich data you're looking for. Here's a list of three sites that provide just that:
- Iconosquare - Currently free. Offers analytics for your account(s) every time you log in, so you need to log in often to gather a steady flow of data.
- Minter.io - Plans starting at $20 and increase based on the number of followers you have. Provides clean visual reports in PDF and PowerPoint formats. Solid low budget option.
- Union Metrics - Plans starting at $99. The enterprise option for companies and agencies with bigger budgets and desire for more detailed data points.
Identifying your Target Audience
Platforms like Minter.io track data such as gender, location and even categorizes users by the size of their following. This information is key to creating a demographic profile of your average follower. You might have an ideal customer in mind that you'd like to reach - but make sure you listen to the numbers and tailor your strategy to the followers you do have.
For example, if a majority of your followers reside in Miami even though you're targeting the entire east coast, it might be worth crafting a post that resonates with Miamians. Perhaps imagery of tropical scenery or a local spot can help your brand relate to those individuals. Relevance and authenticity are two factors you should always strive for when executing your strategy.
Analyzing your Current Posting Patterns
Some interesting data points to analyze include the number of posts you create on a daily/monthly basis, times of day you tend to post, and what filters you use most. Taking a deep look at this information can reveal some awesome insight as to what you're doing right and what can be improved. You might notice that you're going through long stretches without posting over the course of several months. Maybe you're posting early in the week and neglecting the later half of the week. All things to take into account when pinpointing opportunities for improvement.
One key feature that most analytics services offer are the engagement on individual posts. As shown above, this is great for categorizing types of images and videos that received lots of engagement. In this case, we can assume that followers prefer more vibrant, colorful images compared to images with neutral tones. This will help you determine what to post more of and what to avoid when creating content.
Crafting the Ideal Posting Schedule
Engagement is arguably the most important metric to track when it's all said and done. You want your followers to actually like and comment rather than keep scrolling past your content. Most Instagram analytics platforms show the engagement rates based on time of day. This is extremely useful to optimize your posting times throughout the week and select a schedule based on your followers' behavior. Sure, there are reports that state "best times to post" but they're mainly based on averages from several different brands and audiences. What might work for some brands might not work for you.
Let's breakdown the example above to create a posting strategy based on the data. First off, Mondays seem to be the most popular day of the week for engagement, with 9am to 12pm being the prime time to share. In general, posting between 9am to 3pm any day of the week is a safe bet for this specific account.
However, if we look at the outliers, we'll notice that Wednesdays and Sundays have a wider spread of engagement throughout the morning and afternoon. And it seems like Saturdays at 8pm are a good time to post. Gathering all these points can help you craft a posting schedule that is optimized for your followers' engagement tendencies. Hence, increasing the effectiveness of every post you make.
Data can be an amazing thing to have, but only if you use it properly. Take advantage of these tools to adjust and improve your Instagram strategy over time. There's no denying that quality content will always rule, so use data to help you consistently create awesomeness. It's also important to experiment with different techniques to see what the results are. This will help you A/B test strategies to find the best data-driven approach.
To learn more about to how to create awesome images for Instagram, check out the following blog post.