Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights

Are you stuck trying to make sense of Instagram Insights? Tired of trying to figure out what those graphs and charts mean? This post is for you. Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights

I hear one comment over and over from my students, and it is that Instagram makes it difficult to measure yourself. They say that there is no report card that says “post more of this,” and “post less of that” in order to get more likes, followers, and clients. There is no roadmap that tells you exactly what to do.

While this is true, there’s a reason for it. As a beauty professional, we all have different goals on the platform, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You’ll have to be the one to captain the ship, and decide if you should stay the course or head for different waters. Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights

If you think about it, Instagram does provide you with feedback beyond the hearts and follower counts. If you have a business account, (which I highly suggest you sign up for,) you get access to Insights. Insights live inside the hamburger menu at the top right of your Insta homepage. Click on that menu and click Insights. You’ll see what I’m referring to.

Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights


No one likes math, and graphs can be confusing, especially if you don’t know how to interpret the data that Instagram is giving you. But if you’re regularly scratching your head and wondering what you should be doing differently to reach your goals more efficiently, Insights are a life-saver.

Let’s Get Into It

To put it plainly, Insights are a collection of data points that Instagram organizes into relevant metrics to help you measure your performance on the platform relative to the history of your account. It does not measure your account against others with similar content or follower count. There are separate services that do that, which I’ll go over in a future post. Your Insights will only go back to the moment you became a business account, so that’s why I suggest that you make that transition as soon as possible.

Insights are broken down into three main categories: Activity, Content, and Audience. Each metric group has info from the past week to 14 days, with a couple notable exceptions. Let’s get into it!

Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights


Activity refers to the amount of attention your account is getting through various sources, and how many eyeballs your content and profile have received over the past week. Activity is further segmented into Interactions and Discovery. Interactions shows actions taken on your account in the past week in the bar graph, in the form of Profile Visits and Website Clicks, measured against the week before. An upward trend tells you something is going right, and a downward trend shows there’s room for improvement. If you had a really strong post or were tagged by a popular account that lead to a lot more eyes on your profile, you’ll see that reflected in your numbers. This is why it’s so important to look at your insights weekly, so you can take mental note of those spikes and valleys in your numbers, and realize why they are happening.

Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights

Discovery shows you how many accounts your content reached last week, with Reach and Impressions measured out against those numbers from the week before last. It also shows you the days of the week where you had the most reach and impressions. See if you can determine why that is – sometimes it’s as simple as those were the days you posted, thus more reach. If you had a successful week with new and powerful hashtags, it can explain more reach, or if your post was shared to some of your followers’ stories, that can help you reach more people.


The content tab is where you head whenever you find yourself asking “what should I post?” This is the secret roadmap/instruction manual/secret sauce that everyone is looking for. And guess what? It’s available for free, right inside the app. All you have to do is look at it. The Content tab is broken down into Feed Posts and Stories. The Feed Posts section shows your recent most popular posts, listed in order of the number of times they were seen. You can also click on “See all >” which will show your feed posts from the past year, ranked in order of popularity. If you are wondering what kind of content your followers want to see – click on this tab. They want to see content like what has historically performed well, so post more like that. Click on See All and scroll all the way to the bottom. Post less of what’s down there, and you’ll see your numbers steadily climb.

Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights

As you scroll down the Content tab, you’ll see Stories. These are listed in order of when you posted them, most recent stories first. This section also has a “See All >” link, which will show you how many impressions each of your stories had from the past 14 days, most recent first. You can learn what kinds of stories are most engaging, or what kind of imagery does the best.


Without a doubt my favorite tab, Audience is a gold mine of information. Beginning with your current follower count and any increase or decrease over last week, this tab then moves into Location, Age Range, Gender, and Followers. A literal wealth of information awaits in this tab. Let’s break it down, shall we? Location tells you the top cities and countries where your followers are concentrated. If you have a salon-based business, you’re aiming for the highest concentration in your city.

Age Range and Gender give you some great demographic information about your following, showing you what might be most interesting to your followers and what kind of content they’d like to see. Check and see the percentage of men vs. women, as you likely have more male followers than you were aware of, so pepper in some content for them too.

Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights

Followers is where the war is won and lost. This section shows you the times by day where your following is most active, and then breaks it down by what days of the week they’re most likely on Instagram. You want to post when your content is most likely to get the highest level of engagement quickly, so post on the days and times when the bar graph is tallest and bluest. Posting when more of your followers are online means that your content has the best chance to be seen by more of your audience, based on the current algorithm behaviors. Engagement within the first hour of posting is a strong marker that your content is relevant and useful to your audience, so Instagram will show it to more followers. Best to strike while the iron is hot, right?


If you’re new to insights, it will take some time to recognize patterns and causes – and that’s ok. If you consistently check in with your data in Insights, those skills will come to you even faster. Set a reminder on your calendar or make Monday the day you check Insights. Whatever it takes, make it happen. Instagram gives you this data for free, it’s up to us what we do with it.

It genuinely seems like we are stuck between our own vision of what we think we should be doing on social media, and what the concrete results and data tell us to do. I find many of my students model their own Instagram behavior after what their peers are doing, yet many of their peers aren’t using Instagram with a goal themselves. What results is a mediocre standard that produces mediocre results. Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights

Look at your data regularly, and make note of it. Keep track of your results so that you can plot your progress. If you write down what’s working for you every week or two weeks, you’ll have a living social coaching document that allows you to track how you’re doing. Your strategy and plan will evolve, but so will the route you take to get there. Insights can be intimidating, but it’s your data to interpret, harness, and use to achieve your best results possible.

What are your thoughts on Instagram Insights? Have you looked into them before and made changes to your strategy? Let me know in the comments how Insights have helped your Insta-game. Making Sense (and Cents!) of Instagram Insights