4 minute read

The Instagram hokey-cokey….

Do they want us in, or out of their platform when measuring owned media performance?

This week, we spoke with media evaluation specialist Steph Bridgeman, who revealed some of the frustration felt by her team of Experienced Media Analysts when carrying out holistic measurement for their clients, harvesting data points from a range of earned and owned media channels.

“Have you ever had to put a report together based on the performance of your brand or client’s Instagram posts? Let’s call it ‘owned Instagram data’. How easy do you find this without incorporating a third-party app to show, list and sort your posts by reach or engagement?

Today we ask why does Instagram send us out of its ecosystem for detailed insights? Why do they make it hard for social media managers to gather measurement data within the Instagram interface?

Some quick-fire Instagram stats

More and more brands and organisations are using Instagram as a communication channel. Brandwatch reveal that Instagram has over 1bn active users, over 60% login daily and 90% of users are below 35. Instagram usage doubled in the two years to June 2018 and, going by the photo sharing trends of my own family, ‘Facebook is for the old folk now’.

Marketers are using Instagram more than ever before. Engagement rates on Instagram are often higher than other social channels (this clever tool from Triberr gives you a quick view of engagement rates). Instagram claims that 80% of user accounts follow a business account.

But how do administrators of business Instagram accounts demonstrate if their efforts are having an impact?

Google Trends search data reveal that worldwide search for Instagram Insights continues to rise over time.

AnswerThePublic reveals the range of questions from the public about Instagram Insights, including ‘can I export Instagram insights’, ‘can you download Instagram insights’ and ‘can you view Instagram insights on desktop’. I have been one of those Google searchers, have you?

Instagram Insights — why do they push us out of the Instagram ecosystem for analytics?

There are numerous guides online explaining how to access Instagram Insights for your own brand posts. This one from Hubspot is nice and easy to follow.

Insights data are only available to business accounts. Check first to see if your Instagram account has been set up in this way.

Once logged in, there are different types of metrics:

Post level metrics: enable brand teams to understand which items performed better than others in terms of engagement, which posts travelled furthest in terms of reach.

Story level metrics: enable brand teams to understand which Stories performed better than others, which travelled furthest in terms of reach, evidence of audiences tapping forward, back or replaying, giving an indication of the relevance and resonance of your stories to your target audience.

Page level metrics like profile visits, page reach and impressions can give a broader picture of the performance of the page itself rather than of individual posts. However, the mobile interface limits this information to the past week. Many of us report monthly or quarterly — why can’t we enter a date range for page level analytics on Instagram either?

Facebook and Twitter make the data collection task easy-ish. You log in to your account, click tabs to export post level data to Excel or .csv. You can set parameters for bespoke date ranges, and it all comes out beautifully formatted which makes detailed number crunching easy.

Instagram provides the post level information within the mobile app, but it is not presented in an easy to export format.

Mobile only

The biggest drawback is that Instagram Insights are only available via the mobile application. This can lead to archaic data collection methods which involve:

  1. Logging into the brand or client Instagram on mobile
  2. Wishing that the insights were available on the desktop application and that there was a post level export to Excel function
  3. Manually logging post level information such as likes, comments, shares, saves, profile visits from posts, website clicks and post reach onto an Excel spreadsheet on your desktop.

This feels like madness.

There are many third-party analytics interfaces which provide easier or more detailed views of Instagram performance. However, most are paid for. When carrying out social media activity on a budget, there simply may not be scope to sign up to another paid for service.

Social networks such as Facebook (remember, they own Instagram) are doing what they can do keep us in their ‘walled garden’, Instagram, on the other hand, seems to be pushing us out of the door to get the information we need.

In preparation for this blog post, I searched down information to explain why this was the case… and what I found most interesting is the lack of pushback from users focusing on this weakness of the native Instagram Insights functionality. Why does nobody else find it frustrating?

Factor in social media data collection into your team’s operating costs

The cost or ease of data collection and reporting is therefore something to consider when embarking on an Instagram marketing strategy.

Check out this blog from Hootsuite highlighting some of the best Instagram analytics tools for business accounts. Those that score highly in my opinion allow you to:

  1. Customise time period
  2. Export to Excel
  3. Separate out and detail performance on a page level (helicopter view), post and story level to get in-depth understanding over what type of content and which tactics are working.

Parting thought: Instagram planning on making data visibility more opaque

Recently, Instagram announced that it may no longer publicly display information such as post likes. The idea is being tested among Canadian users; the data will still be available to the person or business posting originally.

Scott Guthrie therefore had a valid point when he noted: “The danger of so much power being concentrated in one platform means that influencers and brands are beholden to strategies and algorithms they have no control over”. He ended his piece with “if you don’t own the platform on which your livelihood depends then you are only one Terms of Service change, one algorithm update away, from oblivion”.

With every small tweak and change by the big social platforms, be mindful of how these changes affect the data flow into the third-party app which you are using to gather your social data. This is why I advocate for doing as much as you can within each platform’s native insights ecosystems.

The possible changes to visibility of likes data seems to me to be another headache for Instagram data collection. What methods have you used to solve your Instagram data collection headaches?

Stop press! Is Instagram reading our minds?

Instagram must have known we were preparing a blog post about this very topic. We just spotted this on our mobile app. It only works for accounts with more than 10,000 followers that are also connected to a Facebook business page. Social Media Examiner explains more in this post.

For most of us though, it looks like we are still stuck doing the Instagram hokey cokey.”

Written by —
Laura Joint

Laura Joint

Laura is a Director at CoverageBook. She writes and helps PR teams succeed in the reporting of their hard work.