Instagram Marketing: 6 KPIs You Need to Have (+3 Helpful Metrics)

Instagram Marketing: 6 KPIs You Need to Have (+3 Helpful Metrics)

If you had to guess, how many social media platforms do you think exist right now?




Turns out, there are over 65 social media platforms floating around out there. But let’s be honest, there’s only a handful that can really bring your business traffic, leads, and sales.

The "Big 4" tend to be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

And over the past few years, we’ve watched that last one grow up from a place to share food selfies to a multi-billion dollar company driving ridiculous sales for businesses of all kinds.

So, in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at:

  • What makes Instagram such a valuable resource for businesses
  • The difference between KPIs and metrics for marketing reports
  • 6 Instagram KPIs you need to have in your reports
  • 3 metrics that are good for marketers to know but not needed in your reports

By the end of this article, you’ll have a crystal clear idea of how to show whether or not your Instagram marketing campaigns are paying off (literally).

So let’s dive in.

Why Instagram Is So Valuable for Marketers

Instagram got its start back in 2010 and was about as close to an overnight success as an online platform can be. In just two and a half months, Instagram had already generated over 1 million users.

When it was purchased by Facebook only two years later (to the tune of $1 billion), marketers began realizing that this platform had some serious earning potential. And according to these Instagram stats from Hootsuite, they weren’t wrong:

  • Today, Instagram has over 1 billion active users each month
  • Instagram users will spend nearly 30 minutes of their day on the platform
  • Brands pay influencers an average of $100 - $2,085 per post
  • Instagram is predicted to earn $12.32 billion in ad revenue this year
  • 73% of U.S. teens think Instagram is the best way for companies to reach out to them about products and promotions

Now, Instagram has established itself as a key player in most marketing strategies. It's a great platform for getting new leads, building brand awareness, and boosting sales for your company.

But just like any tool that can be used for both business and pleasure, working Instagram into your marketing strategy also means proving to your company that it’s worth your (and their) time.

That means showing them how effective your Instagram campaigns are in terms of cold hard cash:

GIF of a man saying "Show me the money!!!"

So if you want to really prove that you aren’t just "goofing off" on your Instagram account all day, you need to quickly show them which Instagram campaigns are moving the company forward and which ones missed the mark.

For that, you need to create a few specific KPIs and learn how to report your Instagram analytics quickly, efficiently, and in concrete terms.

But first, let’s get a quick refresher on a core concept to marketing reports: the difference between key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics.

The Difference Between a KPI and a Metric

We’ve already written an in-depth post on the differences between a key performance indicator (KPI) and a metric. If you haven’t read that yet, you should definitely check it out.

If you’re in a rush, though, here’s a quick crash course on how to tell the two terms apart:

A metric tells you a piece of information about your marketing system. A KPI tells you how well a specific part of your campaign is succeeding by placing a metric in the context of a specific goal.

So if you have an average 10,000 unique page views each month, that’s a metric. The number "10,000" is neither good nor bad.

But if you create a goal to increase your unique page views 1% each month, then your 10,000 unique page views is a KPI (because you’re tracking whether or not it reached that 1% growth from the last month).

Want an even easier way to remember the difference?

Metrics are things your marketing team finds interesting. KPIs are the things the rest of your company actually cares about.

The problem is that too many marketing teams report Instagram metrics when they should be reporting KPIs.

In the end, they waste too much time talking about irrelevant metrics and never efficiently show which marketing campaigns are actually working and worth investing in.

Today, we’re going to look at 6 KPIs you need to include in your marketing reports that specifically come from your Instagram campaigns. Then, we’ll look at some Instagram metrics that are nice to have but aren’t really helpful to include in your reporting.

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KPIs to Track on Instagram for Marketing Teams

Please note that for this article, we'll be looking at KPIs to track for your organic Instagram posting.

That means we won't be looking at Instagram Ads, which would require a totally unique set of KPIs to monitor.

  1. Reach Growth Rate (Not Impressions)

There are a surprising amount of marketers who aren’t able to clearly state the difference between the terms "reach" and "impressions."

Your reach describes how many people view your campaign. Your impressions, on the other hand, are how many times your campaign has been viewed.

So if the same person saw your campaign twice, you would have 2 impressions but a reach of 1.

Now, for the most part, impressions aren’t a bad metric to keep track of (as you’ll see below). However, if your goal is to grow your Instagram follower count and attract new clients–which should be every marketer’s goal–then reach growth is what you should include in your reports.

Unfortunately, not all of your Instagram followers will see the content you post (yes, even if you're using branded hashtags).

In fact, depending on the size of your target audience, Instagram’s algorithm, and the time of day you post, only a small percentage will likely see what you share.

Reach gives you an accurate idea of how many people are being exposed to your campaign, so your concrete KPI should be to grow your reach. This is something you can quickly show through Instagram’s analytics reporting tool:

Plus, using a software like Metrics Watch to make your marketing reports allows you to add this information with a drag and a drop. Each week or month, you can keep track of your reach:

Reach metric described

Adding the dimension of time makes the reach metric become the concrete Instagram KPI reach growth rate. That’s because rather than just seeing how many people you’ve reached, you can create concrete goals for growth and determine your success based on how well you’re achieving that goal.

  1. Follower Growth Rate

If you’ve ever been to a popular gym, you’ve likely run into two types of people: "bros" who like to talk about how much they can lift, and true athletes who don’t care about the number so long as they’re getting stronger.

Building your Instagram followers should be approached like a true athlete: the number of followers you currently have isn’t important.

What matters is that you’re working on consistently growing that number month over month. That’s what we call a follower growth rate.

Your follower growth rate is easy to calculate. You check the number of followers you gained over the course of a month and divide it by the number of followers you had at the start of that month.

This is an important–and often humbling–metric to turn into a KPI. Too many companies get excited once they hit 10,000+ followers or whatever magic number they think is important.

And while getting into the 5, 6, or even 7-digit number of followers is great, your rate of growth is what will tell you if your Instagram strategy is staying sharp.

Gaining 200 new followers a month is awesome for a company that started with 3,000 followers (it’s a follower growth rate of 6%).

But if a company gained 200 followers over the course of a month and they started with 1.6 million followers, their Instagram growth likely needs some attention (that’s a follower growth rate of only 0.01%).

Fortunately, this is an insanely easy KPI to add into your monthly reports. With a software like Metrics Watch, for example, you get the growth (or decrease) plus the percentage in a clear, presentable way:

New followers / followers growth metric described

  1. Engagement Rate and Engagement on Reach

Right now, influencer marketing is seeing some major changes. That’s because companies are finally realizing that the power of an influencer isn’t in the number of followers they have but in the number of people who actually engage with their posts.

Which makes sense when you think about it.

If you owned a nutrition store, which influencer would you rather have represent your brand:

  • A fitness model with 4 million followers. When she makes a post, 250 people respond with likes or comments, half of which are people making creative uses of the eggplant emoji
  • A fitness trainer with 3,000 followers. When she makes a post, 500 people respond with likes or comments, all of which are contributing to the topic of the post in some way. And the only emoji in there is "💪"

It doesn’t take a business genius to see where the real value lies.

So as you’re delivering your marketing reports, you should turn your engagement metrics into a concrete KPI. You want to make sure you’re not only growing the number of followers you have, but that you’re growing the number of people who interact with your brand.

There are definitely a few ways of going about this. Let’s look at the most simple strategy and then take a quick look at a more advanced calculation.

Method #1: Number of comments, likes and saves / Number of followers (Engagement Rate)

You take the number of likes, comments, and saves you received for a particular post and divide it by the number of followers you have.

If you post a photo and get a total of 322 likes or comments, and you have a following of 5,000 people, then your engagement rate would be 6%. That’s right on the mark.

The average engagement rate for most companies falls somewhere between 3-6%.

Method #2: Engagement / Reach (called "Engagement on Reach")

With this method, you take the number of likes, comments, and saves divided by your overall reach. The advantage of this is that it can be a little more accurate. That’s because not everyone who engages with your post will be a follower.

So let’s say you have 625 followers but 773 people have seen your post. You have a total of 37 likes, comments, or saves. Your engagement rate would be around 6% but your engagement on reach rate would be closer to 4.5%.

So which is better? Well, that really depends on your goals and tracking preference.

It’s true that your engagement on reach rate can give you a better idea of a post’s overall popularity. However, some companies can accurately predict how many followers will turn into tangible leads and, consequently, will become customers.

If that’s the case, you may be more concerned with knowing how engaged your actual followers are over people who randomly saw your post.

Again, there’s no "right" or "wrong" answer here. It simply depends on what you’re trying to measure!

Pro Tip: Some marketers make averages of their overall average engagement. They take their engagement rates for all their posts and divide it by the number of posts they have. To be honest, this isn’t the most valuable use of your time.

Instead, you should know the average engagement rate for each individual post and look for high trending topics that your target audience is responding to.

  1. Traffic Directed to Your Site

The last three metrics were tracked through Instagram’s analytics and is, for the most part, helpful for building up your social media marketing strategy.

But now it’s time to see how that strategy is playing into your actual business. What you want to know is how many people visiting your website came directly from Instagram.

And that’s a job for Google Analytics.

If you enter your GA dashboard, head to Acquisition > Overview on the left-hand side menu:

Google Analytics' Acquisition Overview Screen

Then scroll down to the table and click Social:

Instagram as Social Network in Google Analytics

That will give you a bunch of metrics about your visitors coming specifically from social media platforms. Click Instagram:

Instagram as Social Network in Google Analytics with focus on Instagram

That will give you a quick overview of users, new users, and sessions on your site that came from Instagram.

And while this is useful information to have, it doesn’t tell you much about how specific campaigns are working compared to others. If you want to get that granular, you need another method:

Urchin Tracking Modules (UTM).

A UTM alters the slug of your URL so Google Analytics can track it with 100% accuracy. When you create a campaign on Instagram, all add a link with a UTM directly in the Instagram post.

When anyone comes to your site via that link, Google Analytics can track the behavior and tell you how much traffic your unique Instagram campaign generated.

But remember, when you’re giving marketing reports, you shouldn’t be reporting Instagram metrics. You should be reporting KPIs. That means you need to have a clearly defined goal for each campaign you’re running on Instagram.

Does that mean you have to track every single post? No, of course not.

But if you create a post on Instagram with the intent of driving traffic to your site (rather than simply teaching, entertaining, or nurturing your followers), then you should definitely track that campaign more closely.

  1. Cost per Click

For the most part, the KPIs we’ve looked at today have been about driving organic traffic. But that’s obviously not your only option when it comes to Instagram. Because like all of life’s professional problems, throwing a little money at the situation can have a big impact.

Just how big that impact is, however, needs to be precisely measured. Fortunately, that’s exactly what your cost per click will tell you.

While a lot of marketers like to include their ad clickthrough rates in marketing reports, we don’t view it as 100% necessary. Don’t get us wrong, ad clickthrough rates provide marketers with valuable information about their campaigns, but they simply aren’t the best indicators of an ad’s success.

And it certainly isn’t relevant to anyone outside of your marketing team.

For example, let’s say you got 1000 clicks from one of your paid ads. If I’m in the room during the report, those 1000 clicks don’t tell me much. What I’m really wondering is how much we paid for those clicks?

Did those 1000 clicks cost us $10, $100, or $1000.

It’s well-known that Instagram costs more to advertise on than Facebook, but you should be showing how much more in concrete terms (a.k.a. in dollars).

  1. Sales Generated

Of all the KPIs listed in this article, Sales Generated is by far the most important. Up to this point, anyone listening to or reading your marketing report has likely been glossy-eyed and half asleep hearing about reach metrics and engagement rates.

Especially if they aren’t part of your marketing team.

At the end of the day, here is what every company wants to know:

Is Instagram generating our business revenue, yes or no? If yes, how much? If no, why not?

That’s it. Finito. Period.

Yes, social media is great for engaging, growing, and nurturing your traffic or leads. But if you want the rest of the company to know you’re not posting selfies at your desk all day, you need to track how much money is coming directly from Instagram.

Metrics That Are Nice to Have (But Don’t Need to Be Reported)

As we already stated, there is a big difference between KPIs and metrics. And we went through 6 KPIs you should be adding to every marketing report. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a few metrics up your sleeve to help guide your campaigns.

Here are 3 metrics that may not be necessary for a report, but you should be tracking internally within your team.

  1. Impressions

We already talked about the difference between impressions and reach. And while we ultimately think that impressions don’t need to be in your marketing report, they’re not useless metrics.

Far from it.

Your impressions are good because it indicates that users are coming back to your content more than once. This can be an excellent resource for coming up with content ideas.

Create a list of posts with high impression rates and look for any similarities in themes. Chances are, you’re tapping into a topic that your core audience is really responding to.

  1. Number of Comments

Again, another metric that doesn’t need to be reported but is good to know. The number of comments shows how many people took the time to actually write something in response to you.

If you want to go the extra mile, you could even look at each post and categorize the comments into "positive" and "negative" comments.

From there, you can look at what content inspired these emotions and leverage that knowledge to create content that converts.

  1. Best Time to Post

Figuring out the best time to post on Instagram is something you’ll need to work at. It takes a lot of planning, patience, and meticulous note keeping to find the best time for your audience.

But why is this on the list of good metrics and not in our KPIs?

Because collecting data on the specific time you’re posting shouldn’t go into your marketing reports (beyond your social media engagement team, nobody really cares about when you post, they care about what happens after you do).

That said, every marketing team should track this metric because it can have such a profound effect on all your others like reach, follower count growth rate, traffic to your site, and so on.

There are tons of resources with detailed information about the best time to post on social media:

But honestly, none of them will work perfectly for your business. That’s because your audience is unique and likely checks their posts at unique times during the day.

So start with some of those free resources but leave yourself a few months to test, tweak, and track.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the key to building a successful marketing report means you need to quickly show how well your campaigns are working in terms of dollars. Where most marketers go wrong is by stuffing their reports with vague metrics rather than concrete KPIs.

These metrics often make everyone feel good about their strategy, but aren’t helpful in helping others see how much money is coming in from Instagram.

Once you have those KPIs locked down, you can start building your report. Frankly, there’s no better tool on the market than Metrics Watch with our Instagram integration.

With Metrics Watch, you can create daily, weekly, or monthly marketing reports and send them directly to your clients’ inbox. No annoying PDFs or confusing dashboard. Just the data you need, when you need it.

That makes Metrics Watch one of the best Instagram anayltics tools on the market.

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