hand holding phone open to an Instagram profile
PHOTO: Jakob Owens

Instagram reached 1 billion users this June, which was up from 800,000 last September, according to Statista. With an audience of that size, it was only a matter of time before someone developed an analytics dashboard to help marketers understand performance on the social media platform. According to the company, over 25 million businesses are on the platform, a number that is sure to grow.

One particular dashboard, called Instagram Insights, is a native tool available to businesses and accounts with high levels of engagement. Users with the latest version of the Instagram app can upgrade to a business account by going to their profile (make sure it's public) and then tapping on the settings wheel icon at the top right. A “Switch to Business Profile” message appears, which when activated will give you access to Insights.

Once on, the app will provide prompts on business profile features. An Instagram business profile offers features such as links to a Facebook business page or the ability to conduct promotions within Instagram. Know this: the dashboard is only viewable in the mobile app. The mobile screen makes the dashboard a little cramped, but it does have a reports layout out to gain quick insights for an Instagram profile. Business users can access Insights through the analytics icon in the upper right side of the screen.

What's Inside Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights displays basic social media metrics within three tabs: activity, content and audience.   

The Activity tab is meant for basic interaction metrics. It provides the visit count and actions as a bar graph from Monday to Sunday of any given week, as well as a comparison of profile visits between the current week and the previous.

The tab is divided into segments. The bar graphs appear on top, followed by a discovery segment. Discovery is meant to note the likelihood that Instagram users have seen the Instagram profile, an indication of your account's exposure.

Instagram Insights preview

The Content tab is designed to allow users to promote a post or an Instagram story, then follow up to view insights on how well the post was received. The tab displays number of impressions.   

The Audience tab describes your visitors. It notes the top locations, by city and country, where your audience is located. It also notes audience age range and gender.  This is meant to let marketers monitor how well a profile is matched to an intended audience. It also displays the average times when your followers are online, to aid posting plans.

Instagram Insights Drawbacks

Instagram Insights isn't perfect. There's no way to vary the date ranges for comparing metrics, which means analysis would have to be timed with any updates rather than applied retroactively.

Other measurement tools are available, but the ecosystem of analytics for Instagram varies in purpose. If a team really needs to view metrics within the cloud, there are third party solutions such as Keyhole and Hootsuite, both of which are available on the web for a larger dashboard. Users can import Instagram data using advanced analytics dashboards from Google Data Studio to import packages for R programming. Users can then apply data visualization to display Instagram metrics alongside metrics from other data sources.

Instagram Insights offers an easy way for newbies to start gaining insights into audience growth for a new or recently developed account. When ready, it makes sense to then explore third party or advanced measurement solutions to see how to engage the audience more fully. 

Whatever your starting point, getting a handle of your audience quality is key to making the most of a social media presence, especially on an ultra-popular platform like Instagram.