Advertising on Instagram has become a necessary tactic for marketers who want to incorporate paid social ads into their digital strategy. Instagram reported it had more than 2 million monthly advertisers and 1 billion active daily users.
But measuring the effectiveness of a paid campaign on Instagram can be tricky, particularly when it comes to figuring out the bottom line—are your ads truly helping your business?
The answer is not necessarily straightforward. In this post, we’ll review five metrics that can help you get to the bottom of this mystery including.
- Follower Growth
- Post Engagement
- Website Traffic
- Conversions (including sales)
- Return on Ad Spend
A quick word about viewing Instagram performance metrics for paid ads
Instagram ad metrics are accessed in the Facebook Ads Manager (Facebook owns Instagram). To view your Instagram metrics, do the following:
- Log into Facebook Ads Manager
- Select the campaign you want to review
- Click “View Charts”
- Click “Placement” to compare performance by placement (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Messenger)
- You can also view Instagram performance by customizing the view in the Campaign, Ad Group or Ad Set the Ads Manager. To do this, click “Breakdown,” then select “Platform.”
The above view demonstrates performance metrics (e.g., impressions, results (clicks), and cost per result. But you can view engagement metrics (reactions, comments, and shares) by selecting “Columns” and choosing engagement.
Now that you know how to view Instagram performance, it’s time to narrow down the key five metrics to review when evaluating the impact of Instagram ads on your business.
Metric #1: Instagram Follower Growth (e.g., Page Likes)
The most important metric (from an engagement perspective) is “Page Likes.” Unfortunately, the “Page Likes” metric as reported in the Facebook Ads Manager doesn’t show this number (it refers to the Facebook page rather than the Instagram page of the advertiser.) It’s always going to be zero in the report (as shown above).
That’s okay—there are a number of third-party tools such as Iconosquare that can help you keep track of your follower growth both for paid and unpaid campaigns.
These tools track tags and mentions on Instagram and other platforms, which can help businesses understand if their ads and organic posts are contributing to increased brand awareness and reach.
Metric #2: Post Engagement
More than 70% of Instagram posts don’t get seen…ever. If you’re paying for Instagram ads (and this includes the time involved in creating and deploying them), then you’ll want them seen.
Some rudimentary post engagement metrics are available in Facebook’s Ad Manager and include post reactions (likes), comments, saves and shares. Monitoring engagement can help businesses fine tune their messaging and learn more about their target audience’s preferences.
Metric #3: Website Traffic
Instagram advertisers can link to a website or landing page via a call-to-action button at the bottom of the featured photo (e.g., “Shop Now”) or via a link embedded in their Stories ad. Organic posts are a bit trickier, but businesses can feature links within their Instagram bio or via Instagram Stories.
Businesses can then monitor the impact of Instagram traffic using a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics.
Important stats to review include bounce rate, time on site and pages per visitor. You should also monitor what content Instagram visitors view on your website, mobile versus desktop traffic, top platforms that visitors use, and more. This can help businesses create ad copy and website content that better meets their customers’ needs.
Pro tip: Social traffic tends to have lower website engagement than other forms of traffic (e.g., organic and paid search) because people like to stay within the native environment of whatever platform they’re on. Even so, it can be very useful to see how Instagram traffic performs compared with other types of traffic.
Metric #4: Conversions (including sales)
The most direct way to gauge the value of your Instagram ads is by measuring performance from direct response campaigns (e.g., leads, newsletter signups, app downloads, etc.) and, if possible, sales.
In the area of sales, Instagram can be a true workhorse. Roughly 60% of users discover products on the platform and 75% of users take action after viewing a brand’s post. Instagram users tend to be young, comprised of Millennials and Generation Z, an audience more likely to make a purchase on their mobile phones than the average user.
It’s easy to set up conversion goals in Google Analytics to measure the performance of your Instagram campaigns. Facebook also provides detailed information to advertisers who want to set up conversion tracking for their campaigns (the performance can then be monitored in the Facebook Ad Manager). For startups and young companies that do not know how to manage Facebook Advertising, companies like Pressfarm are there to help.
Pro tip: Set up conversion tracking directly with Facebook so you can measure cross-device conversions and create custom audiences (e.g., remarketing).
Metric #5: Return on ad spend (ROAS)
ROAS is the ultimate metric to track when trying to determine the impact of paid ads on Instagram (or any other paid media vendor).
The formula for ROAS is revenue divided by cost (Revenue / Cost = ROAS). A positive ROAS means that you’re earning money from your ads. A negative ROAS means that your ads cost more than the revenue it’s bringing in.
This can be straightforward if you’re selling something like shoes or pet supplies, but it’s more difficult to measure ROAS for B2B advertisers or companies with long, complex sales cycles.
B2B companies can still measure ROAS from Instagram and other social media ads by monitoring leads and tracking them to see if they become new customers.
This takes some coordination between marketing and sales and may also require a lead nurturing and tracking tool such as HubSpot in order to appropriately attribute the lead source to Instagram.
As with any marketing initiative, establishing goals up front prior to launching an in-depth marketing initiative will help you set realistic expectations for your campaigns.
Instagram can be a great platform to advertise your brand, product, or service, but it takes some careful planning and monitoring to make sure it’s having an impact on your bottom line.
About the author: Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.