How to read your insights and use them to grow on Instagram

May 13, 2020

Let's start with the basics:

To get your insights numbers you need to have a creator or business account. 

Here are instructions on how to Set up your creator Account on Instagram.

There is literally no downside to having a creator account. There are rumors about having a creator account will decrease your engagement and it is completely wrong.

If you are a content creator I 100% recommend activating this feature on Instagram because it will give so much information about your account and your audience.

Here is some information you will get:

  • Daily follower count (how many follow you AND how many unfollow you)

  • You get an overview of all your posts and see which ones have the most impressions, reach, comments, what pictures bring you the most follows, saves, or shares. And other information.

  • You get information on your account’s activity. Weekly Reach, Weekly Impressions, Weekly Interactions, and Profile Visits.

  • My favorite feature is you get what time your followers are most active throughout the day, which is so helpful when you are trying to figure out what time to post.

To take it even a step farther if you sign in into Creator Studio there is a chart that literally breaks it down HOUR by HOUR.

I have had access to my insights for more than 2 years now, and I have seen the feature evolve and give you more and more detailed information about your account. I would recommend the sooner you turn your statics on the better because when I didn't have this feature on my post statics were not recorded at all.

I would say that once you turn your statistics on, give Instagram 2 weeks to gather data based on your new posts and it gets calibrated correctly.

It does take time to take a full grasp on how to read your insights and use them to benefit your account but here is how I read and interpret mine.

But before we go deeper into it. Let's go into a few very important disclaimers:


I focus on my insights because I want to learn more about what works for my account, what content my audience enjoys, and honestly, I hope to pursue a career in marketing so learning about how Instagram works and growing my account is beneficial for me.

If you are doing this for FUN. Keep it FUN. Do not obsess about numbers.

In the morning, I usually quickly check my statistics and to be completely honest I keep checking them like 10 more times throughout the day (because I am a bit obsessive), but if you don't want to obsessively check your stats (probably is healthier that way) I feel like if you check them every 2 or 3 days is good because then you get to practice on reading them and like I said before the more familiar you are with your insights the more you learn how your account works. 

I am at the place where I know my account so well, I usually know how many likes a picture will get and where most of the audience will come from. Now I will also want to add another quick disclaimer: Just because you know a piece of content will not do as well as your top posts do not mean you should not post it.

For example, I know some Bookstagram Academy posts with advice that is more for bookstagrammers that are 2 or 3 years into their journey will not be as popular as “beginner” advice does not mean I should not post it. I am passionate about that piece of content and I am going to post it anyway because it matters to ME. It's important to ME. It's so vital you are creating content that you love regardless of how “popular” it is.

Let me give you another example: I also know that for my account solo pictures of books that are not as “mainstream” or does not have big fandoms will not get as many likes or engagement as bookshelf pictures or popular fandoms but I still post about them because I love those books.

Please do not limit yourself by likes or numbers. Post things you are passionate about.

Post from IG @berrybookpags

Now, what do I mean when I quickly check my stats every day? 

I just check how my pics are doing in terms of likes and read all my comments.
I also check how my individual post for the day is doing. (for me it's fun to see how the picture grows in engagement) For example; I have noticed that usually, the reach of home grows first, and then I keep checking the post throughout the day to see if the picture is doing well in explore or the hashtags.

I call this “babysitting” my posts and I do it more during the first hour of posting a new picture so I can reply to comments. Why?

Because the algorithm is an engagement algorithm base. The way it kinda works (I say kinda because no one is 100% sure how it works)  is that it first shows your content to 10% of your audience, then if they like and interact with it, Instagram will push the post to new audiences via hashtags and explore and that's how your picture will get more likes and potentially more followers.

Post from IG @kaizenexecutive

Now let’s understand what each category means: 

From Home
Are people who already follow you. Your set audience. The goal is you want to appear on a person's home page, and how do you do that?

INTERACTIONS. If you have DM conversations with them or you constantly like and comment on each other's posts you are more likely to appear on a person’s homepage. 

For example, I interact a lot with @baecrate so my posts appear on their homepage first. That's why interactions are so important.

From Hashtags:
People who find your post because they searched a hashtag you use in your posts. I will go more in-depth this week on hashtags but the basic concept is that you have to use a very niche hashtag you are featured in the “top” section or in the “recent” section a bit longer so more people searching the hashtag can find your posts.


From Explore:
This section will have bigger numbers if your post is EYE-CATCHING and CLICKABLE for your target audience. Why?

Let's do an exercise, take a look at my explore page and pick which picture you would potentially click on, and then I will tell you which ones I would click on.

Here is what I would click on:

Let's do it again, what picture would you click on?

Here is what I would click on 

Some of our choices may be different and some may be the same, but this is because the explore page is tailor to each account based on what you have liked before.

The goal of this exercise is to show that people have different definitions of “eye-catching” but also there are some things that will instantly create maas appeal.

That's why posts with popular books are more likely to get more likes because people are more likely to click on things that are familiar and they recognize.

Another useful tip that I've been doing recently is that I used to follow tons of bachelor accounts because I am a bit obsessed with that show (do not judge me.I enjoy the drama and the chaos). If you find a post you are not interested in just click the three dots on top of the picture and click “not interested” and Instagram will show you less content related to that topic.

I go into more detail on why you want Instagram to have you in the right algorithm category in this blog post so make sure to check it out. 

Now apart from Home, Hashtags, and Explore there is also an “other” section and in some posts, it can be big. 

Impressions from other includes:

  • Shares (your post/video has been shared in direct messages, outside the Instagram app or to other account stories)
  • Saves (your post/video has been saved in the Instagram app to be viewed later)
  • Mentions (posts from other Instagram users, who mentioned you in the caption)
  • Notifications (your posts/videos that show up in the “FOLLOWING” tab in the notifications)
“Other” impressions are so important because it also tells Instagram people are interested in these posts, so it will push it to new audiences. 

The more people share your post to their public story, their audience will have access to your posts and potentially discover your account.

Now once a week I look at my account in a bit more depth, these are the key number I look at:

I sit down and see individually how each picture is doing, I ask myself 

Where the majority of the audience is coming from?
What hashtags may be working the best?
What caption had more responses? 
Is there a topic more people want to talk about? 
Why was this picture successful, what is the picture or the caption? 
Why was this picture not as successful? What can be improved for next time? 

That's why I know what works better for my account, and figure what content methods work better for me. I talk a bit more about it on this Instagram post.

This may seem like a lot, but all of this happens in my head so it doesn't take as long as it may seem. 

If you are just starting out to read your insights, it may help to start with writing all of it down.

Keep in mind that because of the Instagram algorithm your posts have longer "shelf life" , what that means its that while the majority of your engagement will come in the first 24-48 hours of your posts it can keep growing in the next few days that's why I get my posts get 7 days old before I ask myself all those questions. It's not a requirement but that's how I do it.

I hope this was helpful, remember to check my Instagram @berrybookpages .

Let me know if you have any questions.

If you want to support my content, you can buy me a Ko-fi and also comment and share help support me. Thank you so much.
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