8 min read

Instagram Social Listening 101: Your Complete Guide

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Instagram was founded in late 2010 and since then, it has grown up to 800 million monthly users. According to Wikipedia, 68% are female while 32% are male and 90% of the users are under the age of 35.

Marketing on Instagram is definitely worthwhile as there are : 

  • 16.6 million searches for Instagram every month.
  • 4.2 billion likes daily on the application.
  • 400 million users of insta-stories each day

We discuss various marketing options and how to monitor Instagram.

Instagram Marketing 101

Instagram has two categories for accounts: Personal and Professional. Personal accounts don't offer any insights on posts and audience and are therefor useless for our purposes. There are two types of professional accounts: Creator and Business accounts. 

The business account is mainly used by brands and offers insights on engagement and brand growth. Most influencers have a creator’s account that similarly offers insights on the reach of their posts. The majority of users have a personal account that only offers notifications in case of mentions.

60% of Instagram users use the site several times to at least once every day. Brands choose to set up an account to maintain relevancy, create engagement or awareness. 

It offers features such as:

Instagram stories - You can directly mention accounts and add ‘swipe up’ links for any campaigns you have. 

IGTV - Instagram television allows you to create longer videos. Videos get 38% higher engagement than image posts.

Hashtags - Connects you to similar posts. You become visible to others who use or are following the hashtag.

Instagram insights - Get an in-depth look into who makes up your audience. Know the gender, location, age groups, etc.

Once you've made your decision about the type of account you want to create, you may want to consider the following tips to improve your experience.

Compelling bio

Mark Twain once famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.” 150-characters is all you have to write your Instagram account bio. Make it count.

What's your brand promise? What's your personality? Any special skills? What about your locale? What's your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? Do you have a Call-to-Acion you want to include (hint: you should).

You can't be all thing to all people, so pick a lane and stick with it:


Follow relevant industry accounts

After following brands or companies in your industry, interact with a few of their recent posts by liking or leaving comments. They may follow you back getting you started on an Instagram audience.

Interacting with accounts not only helps you build relationships, but it also lets everyone know you exist. 


Research hashtags

Hashtags are used to find content or people to follow. Look at the popular hashtags used by influencers in your industry and note them down for future use. This is perhaps the most important type of research to do before posting anything. 

Here are some tips to get you started with hashtags:

  1. Avoid redundancy: Don't just copy/paste the same set of hashtags you used for each post. This will degrade your reach through time, so make sure you switch it up.
  2. Avoid gimmicks: You know the types, #like4likes #follow4follow.. avoid those, they are spammy and don't add any value.
  3. Max at 30: The maximum number of hashtags you can use in a post is 30. Do you need to use them all? Of course not, but the more specific and niche you are, the less competition you have. Be surgical when you can.
  4. Add them to comments: Consider switching things up and adding the hashtags to the comments instead.
  5. Stenography works here too: Hide your hashtags under images or colors in your stories.
  6. Use a tool to research it.

Connect with influencers

Group of friends competing pulling a rope - isolated over a white background

Finding the right influencers takes a little work, but once you do you should form relationships with them to promote your brand. When you are ready to negotiate with influencers, create a list of the accounts you’ve reached out to and their promotional costs. This will help you in future marketing strategies.

Post regular content

This goes a long way in maintaining your brand relevancy. However, too much posting may lead to the loss of some followers. Conduct experiments to determine how frequently you should post. 

Instagram stories, as earlier mentioned have millions of users every day. You can share temporary clips or images that disappear after 24 hours.

The key is consistency. People will notice, even when it doesn't feel like they are.


Run ads

Facebook, which owns Instagram, offers demographic targeting which you can also use on Instagram to target people who are in a specific location or following certain accounts.


Influencer Marketing vs Paid Ads


Brands on Instagram opt to go with influencer marketing or paid advertisements, sometimes both.

While the choice is based on preference and budget, here is what you need to know of the two.


Paid Ads

Businesses pay for sponsored ads on Instagram and are guaranteed a certain reach. For example, the cheapest price is $1 which gets you, 1,000 people for 24 hours. 

You get to narrow your ad audience to active accounts, people that spend money online, and even the types of phones they use i.e Android or iPhones, 

Depending on how long you want your ad to run, you can set a specific amount of money to spend each day.


Influencer Marketing

The most common mistake brands make when choosing influencers is going by numbers. Sure, in social listening we emphasize that numbers don’t lie but with influencers, it is best to look at their engagement, not their following.

For example, one influencer may have 100,000 followers but their posts only have 1,000 likes and few comments whereas another may have 20,000 followers and 11,000 likes plus 7,000 comments in their posts. Look for those who have an organic following as some buy followers to boost numbers on their profiles.

Getting an influencer who mirrors your brand in their lifestyle is the best way to tap into their huge following. For instance, an influencer who is the ‘life of the party’, posts whenever they go out including what they’re having will boost sales for an alcoholic brand.

Apart from posting about your brand, you may offer to give commission whenever their posts generate sales through affiliate marketing.


Instagram Tracking

With the above marketing efforts, you will want to measure success. There are various metrics you can use to monitor Instagram.



This is the number of people who saw your posts whether they liked them or not. Hashtags boost your visibility thus increasing your impression score.


Engagement rate

collection of  chocolate syrup and ketchup heart shapes on white background. each one is shot separately

Likes, comments, saves, shares on a particular post or your entire account will give you insight into what your followers are interested in and you can tailor your marketing strategies.

For insta stories, you can check how many saw the posts and how many viewed the full story. To calculate the completion rate, divide the number of people who saw the last story by the number of those who saw the first then multiply by 100.

Also, check for any direct messages [DMs] from the stories and compare that number against the number of views to get your engagement rate.

Branded or trending hashtags

Research shows posts with at least one hashtag gain 12.6% more engagement than ones without.

Come up with your own branded hashtags and look them up to see how many posts pop up. You can repost some of them to your account to build on consumer loyalty.


Growth in followers

Monitor how many followers you gain over a certain period of time. If you start at 200 and gain 100 more in a month, that is good progress however, if you start at 200 and only gain 10, you may need to tweak a few of your strategies.


Clicks on the link in your bio

The link in your bio can take your followers to any desired page from your website or landing page to a sign-up form.

Find out how many people actually click on the link and fill in their information or try to make contact.


Instagram Social Listening Tools

Historical data is typically difficult to find, unless you go with a bigger social listening service provider. Access ranges from 7-days to 30-days to 180 days. Instagram itself will provide insights on your own posts, but not search based analytics.

Some things to consider when choosing your social listening agency:

Data Sources

This is the whole reason for getting a listening tool right? Find a tool with access to the relevant data. Get to know their sources, if they are using third parties or doing it directly from the social networks, and if they offer historical data, how far back in time does it go.

Changes to APIs or commercial agreements could impact data access therefore find out if it is via publicly available APIs, elevated access, or a paid licensing agreement.


Sentiment Analysis 

These are the techniques used to understand, organize and apply sentiment and emotion to text. Find out about the accuracy in interpreting your data as well as to what level of detail it is done. Is it paragraphs, phrases, sentences, etc?

Also, inquire about the languages offered and if you are guaranteed a minimum accuracy.


Customer Experience

Social listening tools require the industry expertise to explain how they will support you. Do they offer SLAs for customer support?

Ask if they offer real-time alerts and if you can create customized ones. Can you also export graphs and charts for reports?

The user interface should be easy to navigate allowing you to build queries and analyze results.

Here are few common Instagram social listening tools.

  • Brandwatch
    Allows you to configure to certain keywords. Also offers insights on any extra keywords gaining traction in your industry.
    Gives historical data back up to 180 days, showing brand growth over the duration. Offers a wide variety of metrics for Instagram analytics.
  • Adview
    Tailored for social listening on Instagram ads. You can look at analytics behind all your ongoing ads to see which is getting more engagement. 

IG Marketing in Summary

Instagram marketing can have a very positive impact on your brand. Choosing between paid ads and influencers solely depends on what your goal is in sales. For brands looking to maintain consistency in sales and relevancy, influencers are more ideal. 

For those looking for more instant insta-sales, paid ads work best as you can target a specific audience based on a product you’re selling. What you pay an influencer for a day may get you sponsored ads for a week.

With social listening tools, it’s better to find one that encompasses all your needs which saves you time and money.