Influencer marketing through Instagram is an incredible way to have impact with campaigns focused on awareness and consideration. Influencers on Instagram are not only outspoken market leaders, but they have also generated content that has created an engaged audience who trusts their recommendations. Collaborating with them to endorse your product or service can help you connect to your target quickly and effectively.
In order to ensure your influencer marketing campaign is successful it is crucial to align on a goal. Once you have identified your goal(s) for your campaign it is important to then decide on your desired key performance indicators (KPI’s). You can then connect each KPI with a clear metric, so you can properly track the success of your campaign.
Now, in order to have goals and be able to match them to your larger marketing campaigns, it’s important to know what types of metrics and measurements are available and trackable. Understanding those will give you the clues you need to even know if influencer marketing is right for your brand.
This guide will give you an understanding of all the available types of metrics through Instagram as well as what they can align to your marketing efforts.
There are 2 types of content one can currently post to Instagram, feed, story and IGTV video. It’s important to understand the difference between them as well as the analytics available so that you can align them to the goals of your campaign.
When you open up Instagram, you’ll see a series of posts from the accounts you follow. This is your feed, or as Instagram defines it “a place where you can share and connect with the people and things you care about.” Content from other users show up in the form of pictures and videos from their stories, videos and feed. Each user has their own feed kind of like a main channel for posting content. This content is usually accompanied by text that gives context to the content including screen names of tagged friends, family, brands or products. Typically an influencer’s content would be curated and very thematic. Think of it as their main TV channel or broadcast center. This content then shows up in your individual feed. This is the most common form of Instagram content.
Likes are the easiest and quickest form of engagement. It’s not uncommon for someone to scroll through Instagram while bored, using one thumb and double tap something interesting. It doesn’t really show much intent and more of just a causal appreciation. These appear on Instagram in the shape of a heart.
Comments are one step higher than likes. They require a user to stop, tap into a post and type out a reply. They are a form of engagement that send a sign to an influencer that a user cares. An influencer whose involved and engaged with their audience replies to comments. This is where a community begins.
Both comments and likes are sentiment analytics. These can give you a quick gauge on how an influencer’s audience, as well as those who discovered the post, feel about the post. More likes and more comments means this content resonated and drew in engagement.
It’s important to note that both likes and comments can be faked through the use of bots, agencies and other services that can add these type of activities to a public post.
The amount of times that a video is watched is calculated as a view. For a view to be counted, a user has to spend at least 3 seconds of time watching the video. These are not unique views, meaning that if a user watches a video more than once, their views are counted as many times as they view, not just one. Really short, entertaining or informative videos could get multiple views from one person trying to revisit what happened in the video.
Likes, comments and views are all publicly available metrics that anyone can access on a post for a public account.
How do you know if an influencer’s post really had an impact on the people who engaged with it? Shares and saves. Both of these actions show intent on action to be taken by the user in the future.
When someone comes across a post they are intrigued by, positive or negative, they can share with friends and family by sharing it privately into their direct messages. Sharing a post is a good sign of intent, especially with food, beverage and restaurant content. Often this can be a request or call to action that a user would like to eat, drink or visit.
Saves are jewel in the crown on Instagram feed analytics. When a user saves a post from an influencer its because they want quick access to that content in the future. The product, service, brand or message in the post poses a value for something the user intends to do at some point. Although it hasn’t been publicly confirmed by Instagram, saves are highly regarded as having a very positive effect on the visibility and growth of feed content in the Instagram algorithm.
Both shares and saves on content in a feed are not accessible by anyone but the owner of the account. These are very hard to fake and thus far cannot be generated by a bot. Measuring shares and saves are highly valuable for understanding the deep impact of content.
Want to know how many accounts were reached by content posted to an Instagram influencers feed and how they found it? Ask to see their discovery. These metrics will tell you how many accounts the Instagram algorithm pushed the content in front of and what was the way in which it found a way to be seen. There isn’t a lot of action you can take from this metric, but it’s important in understanding how many people saw the content and where they found it.
Reach tells you exactly how many unique accounts have seen the post. Instagram claims its an estimate, but even if it's in the ballpark, it still is a good indication of performance.
This is the most highly valued and important metric of the performance of a post to an influencer’s Instagram feed. Impressions tell you how many the total number of times the post has been seen. This includes multiple views from the same user. In an ROI calculation, impressions are a factor in a CPE (cost per engagement calculation.) That is important because multiple views means a deeper engagement. Something about that content made the user view and read it again. Impressions are almost impossible to fake and should be a higher number than the reach. When collaborating with influencers to help drive awareness for product, service or brand, always measure the impressions.
Because impressions are so valuable, it’s important to understand where they came from. These metrics may not be as valuable to a brand or agency working with an influencer, but they are very important for an influencer to understand how their followers, or people who aren’t following them, are discovering their content. Impressions can come from a number of places:
Impressions driven by people who follow an account, this is the most common
Impressions created through people tapping on hashtags
When a user taps the search icon in their Instagram app a new view opens up revealing content that Instagram believes may be appealing to them based on other activities being made by them. When someone taps on the content featured their, this counts towards an explore impressions. Many people believe getting your content to the explore page is the key to going viral
When a user taps to view the profile of another account on Instagram and then taps to see specific content
This is a very important impression analytic for influencers who can drive in-store traffic. When you include the location in the geo-tag for the post you add it to their location page. Any user can use a geo-tag to do this. When someone is checking out the location page for a business, especially a restaurant and then taps to see content tagged to the location, it’s typically a sign of high interest and discovery.
This catch-all category includes impressions from content shared through direct messages, taggs or mentions, saved posts, posts that show up on the Following tab in your notifications as well as links happening off Instagram, like a blog post. When the number associated with “other” seems abnormally high, it means something has happened, perhaps off instagram to highlight that content.
Instagram stories is a feature that allows users to share content that expires, or disappears, in 24 hours. Visually, story content takes over your entire screen. Any text is laid on top of the content as are graphics, including stickers and calls to action. Accessing a user’s stories is done by tapping on their avatar at the top of their profile page or the carousel of accounts you are following at the top of your home feed.
Typically influencers use this content to give a preview of other content to come in their feed or give a behind the scenes look into their lives. Post to stories can either be content that’s created in advance and uploaded, edited right in stories or a live broadcast.
What actions do people take when they view an Instagram story? They fall under the category of Interactions. There are a few ways to measure interactions:
This metric is highly valuable to measure for a brand working with influencers. This metric is calculated when another user adds content from another account to their story.
This is when someone taps out of an Instagram story to view the profile of the person sharing the content.
Users can send a direct message from the original poster as a response to a story post.
Sticker taps are the golden egg of story analytics. Much like saves and forwards to posts in the feed show high intent, a tap to a sticker in a story shows interest. Something about that piece of content, be it a video or a photo, caused the use to want to know more about the content.
Stickers can be for a geo-location, a screen name or a hashtag. If you are brand working with influencers, asking them to include your screen name, location or brand / campaign hashtag is important because not only can they be measured to give you an indication of performance but also to drive traffic to your brand.
Stories, much like feed content, can also be measured by how many people found the content how they found it. These discovery metrics are a little different however.
Impressions are the name of the game when it comes to story content. This is the number of times content was seen from a story, including multiple views of the content.
Reach shows the number of accounts that were shown the content. The reach should be less than the impressions.
Follows is a metric that’s less important to a brand because its not about them being featured in the content but are a valuable way of an influencer knowing the specific impact of that content in terms of other users wanting more from them.
Instagram users can get navigation metrics that tell them how many people went back to view an earlier story, moved onto the next story, shared that story or exited and stop viewing entirely. These metrics are good for a user to understand their storytelling abilities.
Instagram TV (IGTV) is a stand alone app that allows users and brands to share long form video content. For people who just want to view video content, they can do that in the separate IGTV app. IGTV videos also appear in the feed on the Instagram app and can be pushed into your own channel in the form of a preview. Video content that is posted to IGTV can last up to 60 minutes.
Metrics for videos posted to IGTV in their current form are not as robust or in depth as they are for feed and stories. There are 2 categories of metrics that you can track with IGTV, Engagement and Audience Retention.
The engagement metrics for IGTV are similar to those of the metrics for a post in the feed.
Views in IGTV are the same as for a post to the feed, the amount of times that a video has been watched. For a view to be counted, a user has to spend at least 3 seconds of time watching the video.
These are the same as for a post to the feed, a user tapped the heart icon to signal they had some kind of sentiment towards the content.
Likewise, comments are when a user types out text about the content.
Where IGTV metrics differ from stories and feed posts is in the audience retention metrics. These metrics give you information about users actions during a view.
Average Percentage Watched
This metric takes all the views of your content and gives you the percentage of the video that a user watched. Its an average of all the plays that happen for the video. Where the drop off happens is typically the point where most users became disinterested in the content. If you are a brand or agency working with an influencer and there was a specific call to action that was supposed to be made, if the drop off happened before that call to action or branding moment, it would signal that the content did not deliver to goal.
Influencer marketing on Instagram is an incredible way to drive awareness and word-of-mouth marketing. For brands, agencies and content creators using Instagram, observing and understanding the analytics is important for measuring campaign efforts. Knowing more about what each metric tells you, helps you to plan what to measure and how to match influencer marketing to your larger campaign goals. The top level metrics are great for understanding reach and the deeper analytics are tools that can help you realize impact.
Rev Ciancio is a Senior Marketing, Branding and Digital Strategist with 20 years of experience, specializing in hospitality marketing, content and local SEO. He has led many clients to new levels of local, national and international success in the hospitality, financial service and entertainment sectors.
He is also former agency owner as well as a former New York City bar owner. Rev is an “expert burger taster” and pens hospitality and marketing tips on his Instagram @revciancio as well as his LinkedIn Profile.