Many small businesses prefer to use Instagram marketing over other social media platforms一the visual medium enables brands to highlight their products with creative immediacy, while the caption length offers more opportunity to inform and educate than, say, Twitter. Hashtags make posts easily searchable, increasing brand awareness and garnering new followers, and Instagram posts average four times the engagement of Facebook posts.

But savvy marketers know that, like any business strategy, your Instagram marketing plan is only as effective as the data used to assess your progress and make adjustments. Enter: Instagram Insights.

If you have an Instagram business account, you have access to Instagram Insights: a free marketing tool that provides data analytics about your posts, followers, and profile. (If you don’t have a business account but want one, you can switch any public profile to a business account by going to settings > account > switch account type.)

Understanding Insights for Your Instagram Account  

To access your Insights, head to your profile, open the hamburger menu (the three horizontal lines at the top right corner of the app), and click Insights. You’ll see some recent Instagram analytics, including how many people you’ve reached over the past week and how many of those accounts engaged with your content.

To drill down into your audience data, click on Accounts Reached. Impressions will show you how many people saw your posts.

Content Interactions tells you how many people liked or shared them一or saved a post, which is commonly considered by marketers to be “the new like.” 

Your Audience will show you your current follower count, and if you click through, it will show you a graph of new followers and unfollows in the selected date range.

You can see which content resonated the most with your audience by looking at your Top Posts, Top Stories, and Top IGTV.

For data on how many people have visited your profile and clicked on your website link, see Profile Activity at the bottom of the Accounts Reached page.

All of these analytics can be shown within various date ranges. For example, within the last week, two weeks, month, or custom date range. And Instagram will compare the data to past performance and tell you whether the numbers have gone up or down in that time frame.

Insights for Specific Instagram Posts and Stories

So those are your overall account insights, but you can also see the data for individual posts by selecting the post you’d like to know about and then clicking View Insights. This will show you the basics, such as likes, comments, and saves, but it also shows the number of viewers who followed your account or clicked through to your profile or website after seeing the post. 

At the bottom of your Post Insights is the Discovery section. This shows you how people found this post一through your profile, their feed, the Explore tab, or some other source. This data can help you figure out where to increase your efforts to improve brand visibility.

Just like posts, Instagram stories have their own Insights as well, which you can access by slowly swiping up from the bottom of your story frame and clicking the vertical lines to the left of the eye. 

That eye represents your impressions, or who watched this story, but the bar graph image shows more insights, including how many people watched the previous or next story, how many swiped over to the next account’s stories, and how many exited stories altogether after viewing.

Which Metrics Matter Most for Instagram Marketing 

As with any marketing strategy, your reach will be the most important KPI for your Instagram business account, followed closely by your engagement rate一the benefits of a large reach are limited if nobody is interacting with your content. And, the less engagement your posts get, the more likely the algorithm is to bury them in people’s feeds.

Other useful metrics include the number of audience members who find you through the Explore tab, which can help you figure out if you need to use hashtags more effectively to reach new audiences, and the number of shares, which will tell you if your content is hitting the right tone for word of mouth marketing.

When it comes to your stories, the metrics you’ll want to pay the most attention to are the swipes and exits一how many people drop out of your stories altogether, either swiping to the next account or jumping back to their main Instagram feed. Ideally, you want people to stay engaged through your stories, and if they’re bailing after one or two frames, you may need to revisit your creative strategy to make sure you’re sharing quality content.

Last but not least, you should track your new followers to make sure you’re steadily growing your audience. Instagram users are extremely active, with 200 million people visiting business accounts every day, and if you’re posting high-quality photos with relatable captions, you should be able to capture some of that audience.  

With any marketing strategy, data is king一analytics, and insights help you constantly tweak your messaging to make sure you’re targeting the right demographics and communicating with your customers in a way that makes them feel connected to your brand. 

Instagram Insights can feel intimidating at first, but like any analytics tool, it just takes a little practice一play around in the app for a bit, run some A/B tests in your stories, and soon enough, you’ll be ‘gramming like a pro!