Instagram Success Metrics for Social Influencer Campaigns

September 18, 2015

I like Instagram. The learning curve is a gentle incline for those of us over 40 and the younger set, including my 11-year old niece and her friends, are up-to-speed in a matter of minutes.

Even if you don’t have an eye for photography (like me), you’ll enjoy Instagram. It’s simple to follow friends and see what they’re up to.

One of the greatest lures of Instagram is the absence of a bothersome algorithm that prevents you from seeing friends’ photos. As long as you check in regularly, you’ll see everything.

With so much going for it, it’s no surprise that earlier this summer eMarketer reported Instagram engagement on both organic posts and paid ads is breaking all records compared to other platforms.

According to the article, social analytics company Shareablee found engagement for US brands on Instagram more than doubled in the first quarter of this year versus the same period in 2014. Twitter and Facebook lagged significantly behind the photo-sharing platform—engagement increased a mere 32% and 27% respectively.

Instagram engagement is increasing

We’re recommending Instagram to clients more often as part of influencer outreach programs for consumer brands—and at the same time trying to determine the best approach to measure and evaluate results.

The Coalition of Public Relations Standards recommends using “shared” metrics as a way to evaluate paid, earned and owned media. This metric refers to the number of times a piece of content is shared via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google Plus.

Since Instagram isn’t typically used to share blog posts and other online content, we require different Instagram success metrics for the platform.

Measurement Metrics for Social Influencer Programs on Instagram

The social media measurement metrics you choose for your brand depend on your overall objectives (I know you know that!).

If you’re using Twitter as a customer service tool, you’ll measure the number of inquiries received through your Twitter account, as well as customer satisfaction and cost savings compared to your call center.

Same goes for Instagram. If you’re trying to increase awareness of your brand with a specific target audience, you’ll want to measure how brand awareness changes over time.

Since this type of research is expensive, and it’s difficult to separate Instagram’s impact from Facebook’s (or other marketing efforts), we recommend the following metrics instead.

Number of Placements:

  • The number of times influencers on Instagram use your brand in an image and share it with their followers


  • The tone of an influencer and their community’s comments, deemed positive, neutral or negative

Opportunities to See:

  • The total number of placements multiplied by the number of followers of each influencer
  • Since there is no guarantee that every follower saw all posts, do not use this number interchangeably with impressions or total audience


  • The number of ‘likes’ received by a post
  • Also consider the “total applause” and “average applause per post” for a given program in order to compare subsequent efforts that involve varying numbers of influencers


  • The number of ‘comments’ a post receives
  • As with applause, also consider the “total conversations” and “average conversations per post”

There’s no standard benchmark, but over time you’ll have enough data to establish one for your brand, along with enough information to better evaluate your efforts.

It’s Not a Perfect Approach
In an ideal world, we’d love to measure actual business outcomes from influencer outreach programs. It’s tricky to do since social media is typically a top-of-the-funnel effort, helping drive awareness and increase engagement.

Measuring social media’s effectiveness on the bottom line is problematic for most businesses, especially when it’s executed in tandem with other marketing tactics. How do you know what’s driving an uptick in brand awareness when advertising, media relations, and social media campaigns are in-field simultaneously?

The above suggestions for Instagram measurement are a starting point. What would you add to the discussion?

If you need help developing an influencer outreach campaign for your consumer brand, get in touch.

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