Hashtag tracking on Instagram as we have always known it is essentially dead. Tracking competitor and influencer profiles the way we’ve know it is definitely dead. So what’s a brand to do in this brave new world of Instagram marketing?
The good news is the new Instagram Graph API is actually more robust than the previous API many analytics options were built on, and includes a lot more useful data. So here are the metrics your brands should focus on now.
Still got questions? Find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.
1. Track mentions and tags
We discussed this in our emergency webinar after the Instagram API changes happened; while hashtag tracking as we’ve known it is dead, brands can now truly track mentions and tags of their brands in a way that wasn’t possible before. As our Co-Founder Jenn Deering Davis pointed out, hashtags were almost always a hack for not being able to consistently track mentions. Asking fans and followers to swap using a hashtag for tagging a brand isn’t a huge ask, especially since a lot of brands have typically asked for both anyway.
With the new Graph API, you’ll be able to track all mentions – in comments and captions – and phototags of your brand, which will replace having fans and followers use a hashtag for a contest or other activity on Instagram.
But are hashtags completely dead? No. Let’s get into more of the details.
1.5 Don’t give up on hashtags completely
You can still keep up with how others use hashtags using the hashtag following feature that’s native to Instagram. This won’t include metrics like reach and impressions for public use of a hashtag, but will let you see what people are posting.
There are a few factors to consider for hashtags your brand follows in this way:
- Volume: If you’re following a high-volume industry hashtag to get a general idea of what other industry players are posting, you’ll only see a selection of what’s posted to the tag this way.
- Branded hashtags: Unless you have a very high-volume branded hashtag, this is a great way to keep up with what fans and followers are posting using your branded hashtag.
- For a complete picture: You’ll still have to visit the hashtag search page. Obviously with extremely high volume hashtags, it will be impossible to keep up with everything posted using that hashtag. But for most use cases, a sample should be fine.
So it makes sense to keep encouraging use of a branded hashtag in order to surface UGC to reshare in your Stories, for example (like Chameleon Cold Brew does) or just watch how your fans, followers and customers are using your products.
The slightly more manual nature of following a hashtag in your feed and going to the search page also gives brands more opportunities for engaging directly with their audience, which is always a win-win.
The Powers That Be (Facebook) are telling us Stories are the future. So it’s a good thing we now have a way to measure that future!
Our Story metrics allow you to see:
- Replies: A great engagement metric. Who’s responding to your Stories? Are they prompted or unprompted responses?
- Taps forward: A lot of people watch Stories by tapping through quickly
- Taps back: This metric is important; it means someone wanted to be sure they saw or had time to read what you posted in your Story. If you got a lot of taps back on a particular Story post, was it because it was highly engaging or hard to read?
- Exits: In general an exit could just mean someone ran out of time to watch Stories and it happened to be during yours. But if you see a large amount of exits on a particular post, you know it either wasn’t engaging or your Story was too long (or maybe both)
- Impressions: Learn how many impressions your Story generated, especially useful when compared to the total impressions generated by your account
- Reach: Learn the reach of your Story
3. True reach and impressions
The Graph API now includes the true reach and impressions of your account. Learn how many people are seeing your content – your permanent posts and your Story posts – as well as how many views you’re getting.
4. Follower demographics
Find out more about who your followers are with demographic reporting on your audience’s gender, age and location. That includes highlights on where your followers are from and what languages they speak, even when they’re online so you can better target when you post your content.
5. Advanced engagement metrics
We now include saves as an advanced engagement metric, alongside comments and likes. Saves tell you someone wants to reference your post later, so if you’re getting a lot of saves on a particular post, it’s definitely the kind of content you should create more of. Saves, likes and comments all represent a different type of engagement, any of which could be important to your brand.
Bonus: A short-term solution to vetting influencers
Need to vet an influencer you’re considering working with on a campaign or other partnership? For now you can have them run a free Instagram account checkup and send you the results.