Instagram has become one of the most heavily utilized social media marketing channels for businesses of all sizes due to the platform’s huge user growth in such a short period of time.
Today, Instagram has approximately 100 million monthly active users and is used by 67% of the top brands in the world, which merely drives home the point that this network cannot be ignored.
Many companies are active on Instagram but not accurately and effectively measuring whether their efforts are impacting their success for the long-term. It is important to clearly define what your business is looking to achieve by having an active presence on Instagram from the beginning.
Here is what your business should look to focus on to determine if your presence on Instagram is successfully engaging your audience. Start by setting attainable goals based on these important metrics.
Measuring Followers Is a Given, but Not the Golden Metric
The amount of followers your account generates over time is a strong indication that your content is resonating with your existing audience and enticing new users to follow. However, it is really important not to look at this metric as the only determinant of success. Many companies focus too heavily on the amount of followers they have, which really isn’t the point of accurately measuring this channel.
Having a large audience to share content with is crucial to getting your messaging to more relevant followers, but if you don’t have quality messaging then having a large following is useless.
It’s important to have a healthy balance of both quality and quantity when it comes to the people following your account. To best keep track of follower growth overtime, set monthly goals tied to your overall marketing campaigns as well as quarterly and annual benchmarks of how many followers your company would like your account to reach.
By setting benchmarks from the beginning, your business will be able to effectively keep track of increases and decreases in followers to your account. This will assist your company in identifying what types of content being shared from your account is effectively reaching your followers and new followers alike. These insights could help you identify if an influencer shared a picture of your business this month and if that event is what drove 1000 new followers to your account. Moments like this with your account are easier to take note of if you’ve got a baseline to compare from.
Many businesses on Instagram have gained new followers to their account by being featured on the social network’s explore page by receiving many likes and comments on their photos in a short amount of time after posting. It is important to identify this event and others like it by creating attainable and consistent goals.
In the end, followers are not the golden metric by a long shot because an account needs to be sharing quality photos that resonate with an audience before being able to grow their following. Giving a varied perspective about your company’s voice and offerings in the photos your business shares will drive an increase in followers overtime, achieving the ideal balance between quality and quantity.
Frequency of Posting
Consistently measuring how often your account is posting photos is an important metric to monitor to understand how the frequency of posts affects an increase or decrease in followers, comments or likes to your photos. Paying attention to the rate at which you’re posting photos each month also relates back to the discussion of quality over quantity. Take a step back and experiment with the right frequency of posting for your business to understand when your audience is active and how often they will be willing to interact with your content. Measuring what effect these experiments in frequency have on your account will help better direct your posting strategy for the future.
The common argument is often that quality should always prevail over the sheer amount of content being released, which is true but often overlooks the importance of quantity at the same time. It is entirely possible to have a healthy mixture of quality and quantity when it comes to how often you’re sharing content on Instagram. The challenge is finding that sweet spot for your business on Instagram that gives the most return for the effort put forth.
The frequency at which you’re posting on Instagram also has an effect on gaining new followers and engagement for your account because of the way Instagram’s feed works. Unlike Facebook and similar to Twitter, Instagram’s feed lists content in order of the most recent from the accounts a person is following. Therefore, the more relevant content posted by your Instagram account, the more likely your followers will see and interact with it once you’ve identified the right frequency.
Engagement Rates are the True Measure of Success
The rate at which your content is liked and commented on overtime is a powerful indicator of your audience’s interest in what you’re sharing and how quickly your following is going to grow on Instagram. When a user interacts with individual pieces of your content, this is referred to as engagement with your account.
Engagement is important because it is the value behind having a large audience on Instagram or any social channel for that matter. Like discussed previously, many accounts gained much of their following through extended engagement on different photos that were then featured by Instagram on the explore page for new followers to find.
Set benchmarks when it comes to measuring engagement monthly, quarterly, and annually to monitor the rise or fall of interactions with your content. By monitoring what kinds of photos resonate best with your audience, your business can look to duplicate its efforts on creating a certain type of content over another.
Measuring engagement is also important when it comes to running contests and campaigns on Instagram to determine whether they were a success or not as compared to your regular posting strategy. It’s often the goal of a sweepstakes or a larger multi-channel marketing campaign to draw more valuable interactions with your audience online than usual.
User Generated Content
Users on Instagram often create and share more photos about your business then your team could ever possibly create about your company. This community can have a substantial impact on how you’re perceived online. Measuring the frequency and sentiment of this user generated content about your brand is an important means of gauging the opinion of your customers, advocates and influencers on Instagram.
One of the major benefits of social media is the consumers ability to have a voice, give feedback, and have a two way dialogue on a topic with a company. Take advantage of this opportunity to like, comment on, or repost user generated content that places your business in a good light. If there is a photo shared with negative feedback, then also take the time to address the issue when appropriate. Monitoring the user generated content created about your business will help ensure you don’t miss these public moments on Instagram, regardless if they are positive or negative.
Monitoring keywords related to your brand and mentions of your username can help provide insights into an increase or decrease in the user generated content about your business. By consistently monitoring content created by users about your brand, it is possible to better identify influencers and advocates already talking about your brand.
Once these power users are identified, many businesses reach out to them to build a relationship that will likely lead to more advocacy on behalf of the brand in the future. Measuring the presence of this content can help your business identify users that are already genuine fans of your products or services and are merely waiting to further advocate on your company’s behalf.
Track Your Hashtags
One of the primary methods of tracking photos on Instagram from influencers posting about your brand is by monitoring hashtags. Follow hashtags of your brand name, related to your product offerings and those created by your business for campaigns and giveaways.
Using a hashtag for a contest or promotion can help your business track entries and understand how effective the campaign was on Instagram overall. When creating a hashtag to measure and monitor the success of your campaigns, choose a unique grouping of words that clearly identify your brand and that have not already been used in the past. If the hashtag was used in past, make sure its use is appropriate for your brand positioning and audience on Instagram.
Hashtags can easily be tracked overtime on Instagram by visiting the explore tab and typing in the hashtag of your choosing. Identifying influencers on Instagram can also be achieved by looking through photos tagged with certain hashtags that relate to your business. Analyze the users posting about your business the most often with quality looking photos and a relevant following on the network, these are the followers most valuable to connect and interact with on larger campaigns and initiatives.
The use of hashtags is also important for measuring the success of events in real time. For instance, the Super Bowl as measured through hashtags can indicate what brand’s content on Instagram (and Twitter) got the most interactions throughout the evening.
Measuring hashtags on Instagram can help determine what types of content are resonating with an audience related to an event, as well as what company the photos are associated with. This analysis could come from the use of photos with hashtags at a concert, conference or any other well-attended event where photos are being taken and shared. In this example above, HBO had attendees of a Girls themed New Years Eve party fill out a New Years Resolution and then had them pose with a photo of their answer with the #resolutionsGIRLSbreak hashtag at the bottom. Sharing the hashtag in their photos let Instagram users chime in about their resolutions and feel more involved with the event and the conversation around that hashtag. Being able to measure this hashtag after the event, made it easier for HBO to understand what kind of involvement they got from fans following the party on Instagram and elsewhere online.
Take Note of Top Filters
Filters, believe it or not, make a difference as to whether an image will gain traction on Instagram or not. Take note of any trends that emerge when using certain filters such as an increase or decrease in followers or engagement. Most likely, the only other metric that’ll be affected dramatically by different filters is engagement on your individual photos.
Although a majority of Instagram photos aren’t filtered, it is important to stay aware of what filters triggering the most likes, comments, and followers overtime for your account.
What goals have you set for your business on Instagram? Which metrics will help analyze the success of these benchmarks? Please share your thoughts on measuring the effectiveness of Instagram in the comments below.