The ego loves likes.
But the brain knows better.
On Instagram, a string of hearts is a good thing: It means people took the time to double-tap and like your content. That’s engagement, and it’s important. A like is better than nothing, but a comment is even better. Comments mean people stopped scrolling and took the time to write something, ask a question, offer a compliment, and so on. They didn’t just give you a high five in passing. They stopped to say, “Wow. I really like what you did.”
That said, likes and comments are the singles and doubles of Instagram, to use a baseball analogy. Profile visits can be considered triples, and website clicks are home runs. A profile visit means you did enough to make someone want to learn more about your business. A website click means you moved a person to get off Instagram and onto one of your properties, where you can educate, inspire, help and ultimately earn clients or customers.
Not to be overlooked: shares and saves. Both are good. A share means a person thinks a friend would be interested in what you have to say, and the sharer is helping you get the post in front of a potentially interested party. A save means a person wants to spend more time with your content later on. It might mean someone is interested but rushed or it might mean a person wants to revisit your content. Either way, you’re winning.
All this insight is available to Instagram business accounts, but it’s very easy to miss it when you’re watching a string of hearts pop up in your notifications.
Here are actual stats from three posts a gym made in January 2019:
Photo 1: 72 likes
Photo 2: 192 likes
Photo 3: 230 likes
The second and third photos were big hits for this account and generated far more likes than an average post, which receives about 50 likes per post.
So which post was the most successful? You might say Photo 3, which was a creative riff on a popular challenge. The post lacked a call to action and wasn’t designed to do anything in particular. Photo 1 and Photo 2 did have calls to action. The former directed people to a YouTube video, and the latter asked people to book a free consultation. Here are the actual engagement stats for each one, and it should be noted that half of all comments were written by the original poster as responses to organic comments:
72 likes—5 comments —2 shares—0 saves
61 actions: 34 profile visits/27 website clicks
192 likes—25 comments—16 shares—3 saves
12 actions: 12 profile visits/0 website clicks
230 likes—16 comments—0 shares—2 saves
18 actions: 18 profile visits
Photo 1, which had the fewest likes and comments, had a huge number of actions, including 27 clicks that directed the viewer off Instagram and into a branded YouTube video designed to establish expertise.
Photo 2 didn’t have any website clicks—which was the desired outcome—yet the post was shared 16 times. A bit more info: the post featured seniors working out, and 16 people decided a friend needed to see it. This recommendation carries a lot of weight, and in this case it’s hoped that younger viewers of the original post sent it to parents who might need the services featured. Without being able to pinpoint the exact result of the shares, it’s certain that the post reached a warmer audience by virtue of the share.
Photo 3 had a landslide of likes and a decent number of profile visits, but viewers didn’t do anything else. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: They still looked at branding and read more about a business. But a profile visit is far less valuable than a website click.
In short, insight is essential on Instagram. To access your insights, ensure your account is set to “business.” You can do this through the settings menu. To access collected insights, go to your home page, then click “insights” in the menu found in the upper right corner. To access insights for individual posts, click on your post, then click “view insights,” which can be found directly under the photo or video.
Hopefully this short exercise motivates you to look beyond likes and take a closer look at your Instagram data. You’ll find valuable information there, and you can use it to determine which posts to boost, what sort of content to create, and how certain content motivates people to interact with your business.