Instagram Post Insights: What Do They Mean?

If you have a business account, you’ll have automatic access to Post Insights, which basically tell you how your post is performing on Instagram. The perennial question remains: what do they mean? While metrics such as ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘shares’ are self-explanatory, there are some other insights that appear a bit more elusive, so in this article we investigate some terms that aren’t as clear. 

Here is a Popular Chips Guide on what each of the Instagram Post Insights mean.  

1 – Basic Metrics: Likes, Comments, Shares, Saves 

At the very top there are four icons: a heart, a speech bubble, a telegram, and a ribbon-flag. These icons represent the number of likes, comments, external shares to Instagram Stories (including on private accounts), and external post saves (also including private accounts). 

These are the 4 most basic metrics, and will be used to derive other calculations. For example, %  Engagement Rate = 100 [(Likes + Comments) / Total No. of Followers]. 

2 – Is Reach Counted or Estimated? 

Moving just below we see two big numbers: Profile Visits and Reach. 

Profile Visits are the number of accounts that have clicked on your profile after having seen your post anywhere on Instagram.

Reach, however, is a far more elusive metric. Despite being one of the most important metrics, Instagram only provides an estimate of this number. 

This means that Reach is not directly recorded or counted by Instagram as with Profile visits, rather it is calculated through an estimate based on a statistical sampling. 

  • Reach: Each account is only counted once, no matter how many times they view the post. 
  • Impressions: Each view is counted every time even if a single account viewed the post multiple times.

What is statistical sampling? 

It is a portion of the total data (a sample) on which the estimating calculations are based.The Reach metric appears three times on the Insights page, but Instagram does not actually tell us how it has been estimated. But we might have figured out the estimated calculations.
Our investigations tell us that they are likely deriving the Estimated Reach from the total number of ‘Likes’ received on the post. In other words, Estimated Reach is connected to the performance of the post and not to the number of followers, as many would think.

Take a look at the comparison below: 

Posts sorted by Likes
Posts sorted by Reach

We’ve taken into analysis the Popular Chips Instagram account which has 15.2k followers and a % Engagement Rate of 165%. This means that even though Popular Chips is a nano/micro influencing account, most of its posts receive just as many likes as the ones belonging to macro/celebrity accounts that average between 500k-1M followers. Consequently, the Estimated Reach shown by Instagram of a viral micro account like Popular Chips is very similar to the one of a 500k-1M follower account, which ranks in the 200k-600k Estimated Reach, as shown in the screenshots.

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Additionally, based on the comparison between Total Likes per post and Estimated Reach per post, it appears that Instagram estimates the Reach on each post to be between 8-12% of the Total Likes for that same post. Let’s use the first 6 posts on the grid to test. 

3 – Interactions

Interactions is defined as the total no. of actions taken from the post.
This includes Profile Visits (mentioned above) + Website Clicks, which is the URL in your account bio, + Emails, which a button on your homepage. 

4 – Discovery & ‘From Other’ Calculation

At the bottom is a section that once again details Reach & Impressions, as well as Follows. The latter refers to the number of accounts that followed you after having seen the post

Impressions is broken down into subcategories and once more we are faced with a conundrum: what is ‘From Other’? It accounts for the bulk of ‘Impressions’ yet there is no clear definition of what this metric means / where it is from. 

We think that it is derived from the total no. of Shares (telegram icon) x the total no. of people who saw the post via these Shares. 

For example, if a post received 1000 shares, and we assume that each account that shared it has 500 followers, the total no. of impressions From Other will be 500,000. Of course, the accounts that share the post have vastly different audience sizes, but this explanation seems to make the most sense. 

It is important to know what exactly the various Instagram Insights mean because it tells you how well your post is performing. This is especially important for sponsored content, or content that is a part of Influencer Marketing campaigns. Additionally, it can give you an idea of what sort of content your audience appreciates, and where the majority of people who don’t follow you (yet) can see your posts.

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Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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