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By: Lyndon

Some people treat their social media like a slot machine. Each day they go onto the platform, insert their money (your post for the day), pull the lever (post), and watch what happens in hopes of winning. On good days they get all 7s and a post does super well; other days they chalk it up to “it wasn’t in the cards” or “we’ll try again tomorrow”.

At this point, Instagram’s algorithm and ever-increasing changes make it so difficult to understand that that’s all it feels like you can sometimes do.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Instagram wants your content to do well. Because of this, they give you a window into how your previous content has performed so that you can improve on it in the future. The only problem is for most people it’s just a bunch of numbers and charts, nothing actionable.

We’re going to look at 5 Answers that Instagrams Insights can give you to shift from gambling to being intentional.

But first; What is Instagram’s Insights feature?

Insights is a feature available to Business and Creator accounts that gives you more granular information about your accounts reach, engagement, and audience; you can get the same stats for your individual posts as well.

Insights can 1) be opened from your profile using the insights button and 2) on the bottom left of a feed post or in reels the three dots on the bottom at the right.

#1 Gut check, how’d I do last week?

Many people (ourselves included) oftentimes talk about the importance of marketing strategies and planning calendars for the month or quarter. But, that can be pretty overwhelming at times.

If we think about social media like mountain climbing, it’s important to have a plan. At some point in the middle of the climb (ie: following the plan) you’ll start dragging, and it’s important to remember that as long as you’re putting one foot in front of the other you’ll be making forward progress – eventually you’ll get to the top.

Doing a simple gut check is exactly that, checking if you’re making forward progress. When you open up Insights from your profile, the default time period is 7 days – which is a good amount of time for the reach and engagement on your content to level out. Right at the top you get an “Insights Overview”.

Your Insights Overview is broken into:

  • Accounts Reached – how many accounts have seen your content
  • Accounts Engaged – how many accounts have interacted with your content (ie: like, comment, save, share, link click, message)
  • Total Followers – how many accounts are following you

Each number is compared to the previous time period. In this screenshot we’re looking at Jun 2 – Jun 8, so the comparison percentages are for the previous 7 day period (May 26 – Jun 1).

By looking at this summary, we can take away that while our reach is down (we were traveling and posting less) our engagement was almost similar to the previous week (better individually performing posts). And we’re slightly down on followers, but this makes sense since we’re removing around 30 ghost followers each day.

Ask yourself, did it perform how you expected? Dig into anything that didn’t and figure out why.

#2 When should I be posting?

While Instagram doesn’t have a chronological feed anymore, that doesn’t mean that time of posting doesn’t matter. Understanding when your followers are active online is important to be able to post your content just before they’re active so that it gets engagement soon, and gets an organic boost by the algorithm.

From the “Insights Overview” screen, you’re able to select “Total Followers”. This will give you demographics and the behavior of accounts that follow you. By scrolling all the way to the bottom you’ll get a bar chart showing what hours of each day users are active as well as the specific days they’re most active.

By looking at these we can see that our followers are pretty consistent throughout the week; they start being active around 9-10am and different portions of them are active through around 9pm. To maximize people seeing new content from us, on the day it’s posted we should post right at the beginning of rise; this means that around 10-11am is our ideal time to post.

When do your followers start being active? Does the day of the week matter for them?

#3 Where are my people at?

This one is very dependent on the type of business you run, but knowing where your followers are centralized can be pretty important. In the same “Total Followers” section there is a section called “Top Locations”. This gives you your top 5 Cities and Countries based on percent of your followers.

If your business does Live classes or webinars, it’s helpful to know where your audience is located when choosing a time. If we had a large audience in Europe it would make sense to do mornings in the USA so that they would be able to join (similar idea with east coast/west coast cities). If you are a product based business and find a pocket of people in your audience are from a particular country it may be worth adding information in your marketing that you do in fact ship to that certain country.

By looking at our Insights we can see that much of our audience is from the USA or Canada, which share the same time zones, and most (all) the cities are in the Eastern Time Zone. This is one of the reasons we started offering a specific branding package to Indianapolis instead of having all of our packages be travel packages.

Is there a way you can take advantage of knowing where you have major pockets of followers?

#4  Is my content converting?

We’re guessing you understand the concept and importance of Reach and Engagement, so we’re going to focus on one step past that. For many businesses the way that conversions happen is through profile visits and website taps. This is data that Insights adds up for you across your chosen time period. You can find this by going to “Accounts Reached” and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

For the 30 day period of May 10 – Jun 8 this was our Profile Activity:

We can see that our content is bringing more people to our profile (in comparison), however the amount of people going to our website didn’t go up by near as much as the profile visits did. This probably means that our Call To Actions could use more clarity on where people should go to work with us.

For the amount of reach & engagement you’re getting, is it returning profile visits? And do those visitors make it all the way to your website?

#5 Did you get a hit?

All the other questions were focused on general profile insights, but there’s also a lot of value that you can get from looking at specific post/reel insights.

Did you ever play battleship as a kid? (this connects I promise) When I was a kid we had a little travel set to play in the car on road trips (pre-electronics), and I put hours into playing with my siblings. For those who haven’t played, the game is where two players place boats in a grid that’s hidden from the other player. Then you take turns “launching missiles” and guessing where your opponents’ boats are. When you get a hit you’ll usually try more missiles close around the hit to try and sink the rest of the boat (in case you were wondering Hasbro made a movie with Rhianna based on the game, to this day my best friend won’t let me forget I took him to the theater to see it..).

Social media works much like this; when you put up content sometimes it’s a shot in the dark. Once it’s posted you get Post Insights to see how it did. If you “get a hit” you should probably try more similar content or if something doesn’t land maybe try something different. It’s a continual process of educated guesses on what hits.

There’s two ways to get to a post’s insights – you can start in the profile insights and select one of your top performing post to see its insights (this is a great way to look for what you should create more like), or you can individually open a posts insights to see how it did.

This is insights on a carousel where we re-introduced ourselves to our audience. Here’s how we would interpret each of the things shown here, ‘cause they all mean slightly different things:

  • Likes: 131 – people appreciated seeing us introduce ourselves. By looking at some trends we’ve noticed that content with both of us tends to get more likes, along with things that are personal/lifestyle related.
  • Comments: 8 – these are people that cared enough to stop and write something; they’re even more engaged by the content than someone who just likes. Adding simple call-to-actions for people to comment, even as simple as “drop an emoji if you agree”, is a great way to encourage people to take the extra step.
  • Shares: 1 – this content was valuable/comical enough to share with others. This is a really good metric for increasing word of mouth, and authority in your area of expertise. We didn’t really design this post to be highly shareable.
  • Saves: 2 – this adds “legs” to your content by making it stay in people’s minds longer. If they’re saving they’ll come back and look at it a second or third time in the future. This could be because it’s good inspo, educational, or just plain rememberable.
  • Profile Activity: 33 – for us this is really good for a single post, and it’s what this particular post was intended to do. We’re asking people to take more time to get to know us, and develop a more personal relationship.

In our mind even if this wasn’t our best performing post, having more profile visits and potentially website visits makes it a good post. We’ll find ways to start doing more things like this because it “hit”. Eg; more content showing both of us, more personal stories, light & bright colorful images, and using similar CTAs will drive visits.

What is the objective of your post / reel? (ie: reach more people, engage with more people likes/comments/shares/saves, drive them to your link-in-bio) 

What are the commonalities on your posts that complete your chosen objective successfully?

Let’s put a bow on it:

At the end of the day without a question to answer, Insights are basically useless. If you open up Instagrams Insights and expect good ideas to just come flowing out, I hate to disappoint but you just see a bunch of meaningless numbers.

As soon as you have a question you’re trying to answer, those meaningless numbers turn into an invaluable gold mine of information. You’ll notice that each section started with a question that we were trying to answer.

These may not be the best questions for you, however they’re a starting point and a great example of the types of things you can do with Insights. I’d encourage you to start asking yourself questions out of curiosity and see if you can answer them. Who knows, you might actually find some invaluable nuggets of knowledge that no one else has yet.

If reading any of these five answers resonated with you or sparked any inspiration for you, please let us know by sharing it in your stories and tagging us @joelleelizabethandco (this ensures we’ll see it), otherwise you can DM us if that’s more your speed.

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We're Jo & Lyndon

Content Creators, Coaches & Educators for Branding Photographers