When I started my business, like anyone would, I wanted to track my progress and growth by way of stats analysis. There are a lot of good reasons to do this; analysing what resonates with your audience and what works or doesn’t work can help formulate a strategy for your next move.
So of course, starting my social media accounts, I figured tracking followers was a good benchmark to start at. The problem with tracking followers however is that it’s completely demoralising at times. People play the follow / unfollow game, people lose interest in what you’re doing and people leave the platform; follower fluctuation counts are a fact of life.
Tracking my follower counts was also doing quite the number on my mental health. Sure, there were months where I had a good jump in followers, but also months where I had no jump at all; and worse, months where it dropped, sometimes significantly. Doing my end of month growth stats quickly became a pretty big chore, one I didn’t enjoy and didn’t really get anything out of.
And that’s the other problem with tracking your follower counts; it doesn’t really tell you anything about what you’re doing and how effective it is. By taking note of follower fluctuations, all you know is that you’ve gained or lost followers, which is going to happen regardless of what you do.
But if you track different stats instead, you can find out what kind of posts perform the best, which one’s promote the most engagement or have the highest reach. This can help you to formulate strategy, and understand what kind of content your ‘people’ actually want you to post. Because at the end of the day, your follower count isn’t what’s important; what’s important is that the people who do follow you (and stick around) are the right people.
- Story Replies
Story replies and reactions are like gold dust to the algorithm. I don’t know the science behind it (obviously) but I always notice a boost in post engagement after I’ve had good story engagement. Plus, the people who reply to your story are more likely to be shown your posts first in the feed, so it’s a double win.
Story replies mean that your content is interesting, relevant and engaging to your audience, which is why it’s my favourite type of engagement. I mean, someone took the time to type out a reply to your story, that was a direct private message; contact with your potential customers doesn’t get much more direct than that. Unless you start showing up at their houses, and I don’t know what your business is but I probably wouldn’t recommend that. Story replies really give you the chance to get to know your audience away from the feed. It’s more private, more intimate and it’s where real relationships form!
Keep a tally of replies and reactions in a notebook or in the notes app on your phone with a brief explanation of what the story was about. Then add them up at the end of the month, compare to previous month’s and take a look where the trends are! I found that I get the best engagement when I just chat about my day (increase engagement on chatty stories by ensuring you include a caption), so now I try to make sure I do that at least twice a week.
- Post Saves
So you know that little flag icon that’s sort of near the like, comment and share buttons on posts? That’s the save icon. This means someone liked your photo or your caption enough to save it to a collection to refer back to later. There’s no way to tell if it was the photo or the caption, but you can maybe make an educated guess. For example, a photo I posted revealing a recent tattoo had 23 saves; but I think it’s pretty safe to say that had nothing to do with my caption writing skills!
Find out how many saves you got by clicking “View Insights” on each post and looking for the number next to the flag icon. You can also head to your Insights in the menu found in your profile, and click "See All". If you click on "Reach" you can choose a variety of different interactions, including Saved.
- Shares to Stories
Similar to the post saves, the shares to story stat can be found under “View Insights”; it’s the little paper plane icon. It's also found under the same interaction section under the Insights menu on your profile.
Again, it’s not really easy to know who shared your post unless they also tagged you, so you have to make an educated guess about whether it’s the caption or the photo that inspired them so much. I got quite a few shares on my IWD2020 post this year. It wasn’t a particularly interesting photo, but the caption was a little c o n t r o v e r s i a l, so I’m safely assuming it was that.
This one’s a great one too because it means your followers wanted their followers to see your post. Whether that’s because of the photo or the caption, it means something about your content is resonating, and as a consequence, you increased your reach.
Comments are great. Greater even, then likes. Likes mean nothing; I blindly ‘like’ almost every photo that comes up on my feed. The magic ones are the ones that make me stop scrolling, read the caption and type up a reply. That’s how you know you’re getting your target audience's attention. Comments tell the algorithm this is A Good Post and that it should be shown to more people. You’ll nearly always notice an increase in reach on posts that have higher comment counts.
Plus it’s more direct, real contact with your audience. Like Story replies, it helps you to build real relationships and get actual feedback on your content. That is so valuable. And you can always tell whether it’s because of your photo or your caption!
- Hashtag reach
Alright, I’m throwing in a curveball here. Under “View Insights” again, you can see how people found your post. Here you can see how much of your audience you reached as a result of the hashtags you used. Now, this stat can fluctuate wildly day-to-day, even if you don’t change your hashtags (I don’t know why; just algorithm things!). But if you can consistently see that you’re only reaching a handful of people with your hashtags, you need to take a look at your hashtag strategy.
You should be regularly changing your hashtags and checking their relevance anyway, but this will give you some actual data about whether it’s working or not. And if you have great results from hashtags, you can try and isolate what hashtags it is that are performing well for you!
What are you favourite Instagram stats to track? Let me know!
Until next time, look after yourself!