Instagram analytics are constantly evolving. The follower count that was once a benchmark for success is now largely seen as a vanity metric by the social media industry. This is something I've learned over the past five years using Instagram for work and to grow my personal meme page to nearly 100k followers.
In that time, I've developed my own set of insights that aren't often examined in the Instagram community. I've also made a practice of tracking each of these metrics daily to see how my account is doing. A meme page of my size typically averages around 5-10k likes and 60k reach per post, but with these tactics I average 10-50k likes and over 100k accounts reached per post.
To accurately determine how an Instagram account is performing in 2021 and how valuable its audience really is – there are three secret qualitative and quantitative measurements you need to start keeping track of.
- Quality and Length of Comments
- DMs and Story Replies
- Story Reshares
1. Quality and Length of Comments
What Are 'Good Comments' On Instagram?
If you read the comments on a large Instagram page within the first few minutes of a new post going live, you'll likely see many comments from bots. Some examples of these include, "Anyone else bored right now?", "I'm lonely", or a string of three random emojis. Creators using others' comment sections as a way to growth hack their own accounts is a tactic found on all social platforms, but it seems to be the most prevalent on Instagram.
If your comment section is filled with these low-quality comments when a post goes live, that's normal, but if you're only seeing these types of comments after a few days, then that is something to investigate and improve upon. Having 70 comments that are related to the content you're posting is much more valuable than having 170 comments with no direct relation to the post.
When evaluating someone else's account, don't just look at the number of comments their posts have. Really dig into multiple posts and see if the account has a community feel, meaning there is some combination of inside jokes, lore, and interactions between people about the content that is posted on the page. An Instagram page is more valuable when the engagement taking place on it is related to the content.
When followers are actually interested in the subject matter of a page, they are much more likely to purchase something or take the advice of the account owner. Authentic accounts with less than 10k followers are often many times more influential than vague unoriginal accounts with 100k followers.
How Do I Get Higher Quality Comments?
One way improve upon your comment quality is to respond to the legitimate comments that you do get. If you show your audience that you are actively interacting with them, more people will be inclined to leave a real comment themselves. If your account is small, it's important to respond, or at least like, every comment that you get to trigger and snowball more comments.
2. DMs and Story Replies
Why Are Story Replies Valuable?
Story replies are valuable because getting someone to respond to your content is the point of being an influencer. When you get a reply to a story, only you are going to see it. This means the person who sent it cares about the content you created. There's no other incentive for a person to reply to your story other than for you to see it and potentially respond. Getting a ton of messages and replies can be overwhelming, but it's a sign that your account is healthy and the content you're posting is conversation starting. There are so many stories to view everyday that getting just a few replies on your story is a win itself.
The thing I look at the most after I post a story is how many people went on to view the next story or exited. This is a good number to examine after 22-23 hours of your story being posted. While there's no general consensus on the average percentage of people who exit or go to the next story, comparing these numbers to other stories you've had is a good way to comparatively measure the success of each story post.
The best way to consistently benchmark these numbers is to post two stories back to back. You can see in the image below that with 12 hours between posts, there’s a significant drop-off in next-story clicks.
How Do I Get More DMs And Story Replies?
One way to increase your next story click through rate is by creating stories that are more interactive. I am a freelance journalist who interviews interesting creators in my spare time. Last week, I posted a story asking my followers for suggestions on who I should interview next. This got my followers to answer with suggestions that I went on to share to my story, which also incentivized other followers to go back and answer the story question.
When I showed them that their responses were being read, more people went back and answered the question. When Instagram sees that a high percentage of people are interacting with your stories, the algorithm is set up to then show your stories to more of your followers earlier in their stories que.
How Can I Create Better Instagram Stories?
You can separate yourself from the pack by using fonts and design tools that are found outside of Instagram. Seeing a non-native font or style that's found in an external editing software will catch more users eyes and be seen as more professional, if that is what you're going for.
You can easily achieve this by using a Kapwing template. From resizing an image in a unique way to adding a border; these templates allow you to customize your brand and be known in your space as the creator who tries hard on their stories. You can edit these right on your phone, so it's not that much more time and is definitely worth the extra effort.
3. Story Shares
How Do I See My Story Reshares?
One of the most tucked away analytics on Instagram is story reshares. To see how many active story shares a particular post has, click the top right dots of a post and select the view story reshares option.
In 2020, carousel posts saw a huge spike in story reshares on Instagram, mainly consisting of infographics. Creating content that people want to have associated with their personal brand is a huge part of this particular Instagram strategy. Sharing something to your story is like announcing "I really like this post and want you to know that I told you about it." Creating content with that as your lighthouse can maximize the followers you'll get per post.
Letting your followers do the growth work for you is a natural and steady way to grow your account. Getting on the explore page and ranking high on hashtags can only do so much. To establish yourself in the social sphere you're trying to rank higher in, you need the people who are consumers in that space to share your work to a like minded audience.
How Do I Get More Story Shares?
Create content that is either really high quality or showcases your personality. An example of this on my meme page is that I often see higher rates of follows on posts that include my name in the meme itself, like the image above. Below is a comparison of the followers I gained from two memes I made -- one that includes my name and face and one that doesn't.
Why Is Personality Important To Page Growth?
Despite the second meme getting double the reach of the first meme, the post with my face and name helped me gain more followers. This is something I try to keep in mind when creating memes.
Whenever I notice a lot of people sharing my story post or if a meme I made makes it to the top of a hashtag page, I'll often change that post's caption to a short introduction to my page. This provides more context to people who don't know who I am or what separates my page from other meme pages. This is a successful way to convert people who are seeing my content on explore or on a friend's story for the first time.
When analyzing your work on Instagram, it's import to look at both the big picture and specific case by case examples to fully understanding how to maximize your explore/hashtag reach and conversion. To see more best practices and some examples of content that we've seen success with, check out our Instagram page, @kapwingapp.