Instagram might be a social media platform, but it’s also one of the music industry’s most essential tools for music marketing and audience engagement — whether you’re an indie artist or a digital strategist at a major record label. So, how do you know if your Instagram efforts are paying off?
That’s where analytics step in — because artist success on Instagram is vital to understanding artist success across other streaming and social media platforms and music industry verticals.
Despite its ubiquity today, Instagram didn’t start out as the addictive photo-sharing mobile app that users around the world still can’t seem to get enough of. Instead, San Francisco-based founder Kevin Systrom built a Foursquare-like app that he named after his favorite drink: Burbn.
Unfortunately, according to The Atlantic, the location-enabled check-in app was just too complicated, and after bringing on programmer Mike Krieger to the Burbn team, the two looked at the analytics of their app’s usage. They quickly realized that users gravitated to one feature over all the others: photo sharing.
Doubling down on that photo-sharing capability, thanks in large part to the powerful insights that analytics provided to them, Systrom and Krieger launched Instagram, a portmanteau of “instant camera” and “telegram,” on Oct. 6, 2010. From there, the app quickly picked up venture capital investors as its user base ballooned. Within just two years, Facebook acquired the photo-sharing platform for $1 billion, and just a month after that April 2012 acquisition, the social media juggernaut had gone public.
Throughout the 10 years of its existence, Instagram has rolled out a number of features borrowing from other social media platforms, and just like YouTube, music has often played an instrumental part in leveraging those features in creative ways.
On Aug. 9, 2012, Ellie Goulding became one of the first artists to create a music video entirely out of the Instagram posts of her fans. For the song “Anything Could Happen,” Goulding’s team stitched 1.2K filtered Instagram photos together, each of which represented a particular word or lyric from the song.
During the next three years, Instagram added video, direct messaging, advertising, and story capabilities, expanding the opportunities for artists to promote their music. By 2018, the company had added a Spotify integration, which allowed users to share what they were listening to on their stories.
Next to parent company Facebook, Instagram has the most active users around the world, at least in terms of true social media usage. And while TikTok is closing fast, for now, Instagram arguably still holds the title for music’s most important social platform.
Like TikTok, learning how to read Instagram Insights depends upon what kind of account you have and whether you’re using the platform for paid advertising or organic engagement.
The first step to take if you’re trying to view Insights on Instagram, if you haven’t already, is to change your account from a standard personal account to a Professional Account. To do that, navigate to your profile, tap the three lines in the upper right hand corner, tap Settings, scroll down to Account, and then tap Switch to Professional Account.
From there, you can decide whether to set your account up as a Creator or as a Business. There isn’t a huge difference between the two, but if you’re an indie artist, you’ll probably want to choose the former, and if you’re an indie label, the latter.
Once you’ve done that, one of the most important features that you’ll have access to is Instagram Insights, which gives you an idea of your audience demographics, audience engagement with your posts, and how your posts are performing in relation to one another.
Here’s how to get to Insights on Instagram: Navigate to your profile, tap the three lines in the upper right hand corner, tap Insights, and you should see three different analytics sections: Content, Activity, and Audience. In Content, you’ll be able to see Instagram post insights, in Activity, you’ll be able to see Instagram advertising and marketing metrics, and in Audience, you’ll be able to see Instagram audience insights. However, you won’t be able to access any of these Instagram analytics from your desktop … for now.
Beyond Insights, there are a number of added benefits you’ll immediately have access to as well, according to Instagram. And keep in mind, once you switch to a Creator or Business account, it’s easy to switch your account back to Personal, but each time you switch, your Insights data will be erased!
For artists and their teams, understanding their paid and organic music marketing efforts makes Instagram Insights an absolutely essential part of any music industry toolkit in today’s increasingly data-driven world.
Beyond just keeping track of how many followers you have, it’s important to understand how those followers are engaging with your content. At a glance, on your Chartmetric artist page, you can quickly get an idea of how many likes you’re averaging per post, how many comments you’re averaging per post, and what your overall engagement rate is.
Then, you can assess whether or not your social presence is resonating significantly with your audience … and why. With our Instagram audience analysis, you’ll be able to break down your audience by age, gender, and even language. Maybe you have a significant contingent of Spanish-speaking followers who you can better engage with in a meaningful way. We’ll help you get there.
After you know how your followers are engaging with your content and you have a better idea of who they are, we can help shape your understanding of your artist profile even more to help your music reach the right ears.
Using geographic-based demographics, you’ll be able to see what percentage of your followers is located in each country and city around the world, which can help you plan tours — especially when it comes time to choose the optimal route.
When you want to drill down even deeper, discover what brands and interests your followers are particularly keyed in on. That can help inform both your digital ad spend and also future brand partnerships that might be fruitful for you to actively pursue.
And who knows, with our Notable Followers section, you might just find out that Drake is secretly a huge fan of yours.
With Artist Pages for the 2M+ artists in our database, compare and contrast individual performance on Instagram and various other platforms across the digital music landscape.
We are a small, highly skilled team with members from diverse backgrounds, and that diversity is celebrated just as much as our work is. We’re talented solo artists, but we’re a much better band. We are as much music data rockstars as we are music superfans, and we thrive as a bridge between music and technology, data and creativity.
Sign up for a free account at chartmetric.com, dive deeper into our features at blog.chartmetric.com, and check them out for yourself. We can’t wait to see what you create.