What’s up everybody!? Welcome back to the Social Locker Room. Jonathan Payne here from MySocialGamePlan.com. Let me ask you something… Do you ever feel like you’re just putting up post after post on Instagram, without any real idea of who your audience is or if your content’s working? Well, today in The Social Locker Room, we’re kicking off a two-part series about Instagram analytics and how to use that data to really understand who your audience is and what kind of content they prefer. Before we jump into the specifics of that, I want to preface this discussion with one simple point. And that is, do not be this guy. Don’t drive blindfolded and just hope and pray you make it home safe. If your approach to social media is posting left and right like a madman hoping you magically land in front of your customers, you’re probably going to crash and burn. Monitoring your analytics and trends over time is such a key part of having a successful social media strategy, and while you’re not going to hit and kill someone like you would driving blindfolded, you could waste tons of time, money, and, energy swerving in the wrong directions if you go at social media blindfolded. And that’s not good for any business. So with that said, let’s dive into what analytics Instagram offers and talk about how you can use this data to make sure you’re driving in the right direction. So the first thing we’re going to focus on is demographic information that Instagram provides about your followers. That’s broken down into three areas: gender, location, and age. Here’s a sample of the gender data that Instagram gives. Let’s say your business is targeting females, and you’ve been at Instagram for six months. Doing everything right — you’ve been posting one or two times a day, maybe more. You’ve been targeting hashtags that you think are relevant to your audience. You’ve been commenting on other people’s posts… all that fun stuff that you’re supposed to be doing to be effective. But you’re curious if your presence is working or not, so you look at your gender breakdown and you see here that only thirty-eight percent of your followers are women. That’s a pretty big problem, right? That means less than half of your audience, every time you post, is made up of your target demographic and the people that are most likely to buy from you. Or so you think. So you have to take a step back and question… maybe your target’s wrong for what you’re offering. Or maybe the content you’re publishing isn’t as appealing to women as you think. Maybe the tone of your captions isn’t written in a way that really resonates with women. If you didn’t have this gender data in front of you, you’d probably just keep going with your current approach and not even think twice about the fact that you’re not hitting your target that well. On the surface, this kind of data might not seem terribly useful, but even some of the most basic data can give you solid insights into how well your strategy is performing. Similar to gender analytics, Instagram also gives location data on your followers broken down by city and country. So let’s say you run an e-commerce shop that only ships to North America. When we look at this data, we see on the right that my most popular country is the US and that’s exactly what I want. But then we have the UK and Canada. And while that’s not terrible, wouldn’t it be better if you had more followers from Canada? Those are people that you can sell to…those are people that you ship to. It doesn’t do you much good or any good to have a significant portion of your audience coming from countries outside North America since you don’t even sell to those countries. So a case like this, maybe you need to run promotions geared specifically toward Canadian consumers. Or post more content that incorporates Canada’s culture more explicitly. Even partnering up with an influencer who’s in Canada to have them endorse your product is an option, depending on your budget. Again, not the most jaw-dropping information presented here by Instagram, but if you think back to the guy driving blindfolded, you’re just hoping for the best if you’re not using these analytics to monitor your presence. And your strategy should be based on something a little stronger than hope, right? The last piece of demographic info that Instagram provides is the age breakdown of all of your followers, or you can split it out by gender. Again, if your follower data shows that you’re hitting an age group that you don’t consider to be your target, you need to ask yourself some questions… is it a product of the platform? So Instagram’s still very heavy on younger users and maybe your followers are trending that way no matter what you do. Is it, your target audience is wrong — maybe your product does appeal to a younger audience and you just didn’t realize it. Or is it a bigger content or branding issue? A case where you’re not positioning your product or brand in a way that effectively appeals to the age group of your target. Now, this data can’t answer these questions on its own, but what’s important is that it gets the conversation started and it helps you ask the right questions. The next section of Instagram analytics that I want to touch on is follower activity. This data helps me learn two really important things: one, what times of the day are my followers most active and two, what days of the week are they most active. From this data, I can decide with confidence which days and times are the most appropriate to post to maximize engagement with my followers. So here’s a sample from my account. On the left we see that posting around 2-3 p.m. on Sunday is probably my best option to hit my followers. That’s where the graph hits its peak. Or I could look at the top two or three peaks throughout the day if I wanted to post more than once a day, which definitely isn’t a bad idea if you’re trying to grow your presence. On the right, we see that Monday, Thursday and Friday are my most active days for my followers, and Tuesday and Wednesday are relatively low activity days. What can I take away from that? Well maybe I save my really, really good content for Thursdays and Fridays, because I know that’s when my audience is most active, and obviously I want to hit them as much as I possibly can. Then I save my not-so-exceptional content to push out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Or maybe I post or three times on Thursdays and Fridays to hit more of my audience, but only post once on Tuesdays and Wednesdays just to save myself some time to focus on other projects that might give me more results. This info can obviously have a real impact on how well you communicate with your audience, but just as importantly, it influences your content production. With social media being such a labor-intensive task…and tons of hours going into content production…it’s really, really helpful to know how much content you need and to know how frequently you’ll need it. So this data’s really awesome for determining your content quota. Like I mentioned earlier, none of this data alone can answer all of your questions or lay out some obvious strategy for you, but it absolutely helps you ask the right questions and it sets a benchmark to see if you’re improving over time. So you can analyze how you’re performing currently, make changes to your strategy as needed, then you measure the effectiveness of those changes. And that is, all in all, the key to dominating social media — monitoring results, making educated guesses, engaging in some trial and error, and then making continuous improvements based on that information. The takeaway is that you’re not driving blindfolded anymore, which drastically increases your chances of making it home safely. Or in this case “home” being attracting more customers and building up your brand. So that wraps up Part One of Instagram’s analytics. I’ll have Part Two for you guys in the next few days, talking about post engagement, stories, and website traffic analytics. Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about Instagram or social media in general. I’m more than happy to answer…you can catch me @SocialGamePlan. If you know someone who’s just getting started with Instagram, pass along this video to them. I’m sure they’ll love you for it! Again, I’m Jonathan Payne from MySocialGamePlan.com, your one-stop shop for all things digital marketing. Thanks for tuning in to The Social Locker Room! Until next time…SEE YA!