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Judging vanity metrics on Instagram: Is it still vanity if it works?
Judging vanity metrics on Instagram: Is it still vanity if it works?

Crunch the numbers: understand your social media data

Businesses that understand how to interpret social media data can unlock valuable customer insights. In part two of this series on Instagram marketing, MELISSA MEGGINSON shows how to use data to make better decisions.

Instagram is a great tool for building connections and engaging with potential customers, but that’s just the beginning of its power. Accessing built-in analytics and statistics can help any business understand what consumers want, and the best way to get their full attention.

In order to start evaluating your Instagram numbers, it’s important to know your goals. Businesses use Instagram for many different purposes including increasing awareness, driving traffic to a website and selling products. The statistics you’ll want to see depend on your business goals.

Don’t forget your TOFU

Brands mostly use Instagram to focus on brand awareness, which is known as a ‘top of funnel’ (TOFU) activity. The strategy is to increase the number of consumers who know about your brand, educate them about your products and create a general buzz and strong desire to purchase.

"Used effectively, crunching the numbers on your store’s Instagram account could be the missing key to creating stronger relationships with your customers"

Measurements that provide information about this goal of boosting brand awareness are follows, likes and comments. Social media analysts often refer to these measures as ‘vanity metrics’, dismissing them as weak indicators of overall awareness; however, is it still vanity if it gets the job done? These so-called vanity metrics are extremely valuable for TOFU brand awareness because they achieve the desired goal, which is to have more users interact with and see content from the brand.

Perhaps you are using Instagram as a tool lower down in your sales funnel. If driving traffic to your website, converting on sales or capturing emails are your goals, then your data gem is to find out how many people are accessing your website through Instagram.

Tracking TOFU

To track that, add a UTM tracking code or use a link in your profile, which will track the origin of anyone who clicks on the link. From there you can see if your Instagram traffic converts on your website-specific goals.

Share links for greater success

If you’re new to Instagram, you might have noticed that there aren’t too many ways for users to embed links into their posts. Discussion has raged for years about when Instagram will start allowing links on posts and, in truth, it seems unlikely that it will change anytime soon.

This means that retailers need to be strategic about getting users to visit their websites.

Right now, there are four different ways to include links on Instagram:

  • the profile link

  • tools to create clickable photo galleries

  • Story links for business accounts with more than 10,000 followers

  • Instagram ads

Breaking it down

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

First up, the profile link: this is the only formal – and free – link on Instagram. If your business frequently shares blog posts or runs different promotions, it makes sense to change out the link so it directs users to your current promotions. This is great if your followers typically only engage with your most recent content.

The second option is to use a tool like Soldsie to create clickable photo galleries. Soldsie converts your profile link into a digital storefront that users can browse. One thing to consider is that engagement goes down when pages require more clicks from users and Soldsie adds an additional click to view a virtual storefront. If you use a tool like Soldsie, measure the sales and conversions to make sure it’s worth the monthly fee.

Our next option is using links in Instagram Stories, which is only available to business accounts with more than 10,000 followers. Instagram Stories are images or videos that stay on Instagram for 24 hours unless added to a Story Highlight on your profile. With links in Stories, business accounts can add URLs to their images or video, and viewers just have to swipe up to open the link. Again, it’s important to use a UTM code or link to understand where that traffic is coming from.

The last option – Instagram ads – is the most flexible option, but oddly enough, the one that businesses avoid the most.

Instagram advertising gives businesses the option to have a tailored landing page, control the user experience, reach more users and measure the results. If you are able to generate more revenue than the cost of the ad, it’s a great avenue for your business; however, that’s a big ‘if’.

Used effectively, crunching the numbers on your store’s Instagram account could be the missing key to creating stronger relationships with your customers. It could also elevate your marketing message away from generic social media approaches by providing that personal touch that consumers crave, and this could easily be the difference between surviving or sinking.

More Reading:
Reach more customers with Instagram - part 1

Melissa Megginson

Contributor • Tailwind

Melissa Megginson is marketing manager at Tailwind, the leading visual marketing tool for brands. Learn more:

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