Heads-up! There’s a web tool for viewing your Instagram Insights

There’s a free tool for viewing your Instagram analytics data on desktop or in a web browser! It’s handy if you want to see this information on a larger screen.

Instagram for PC

I don’t currently own a smartphone. Are you done gasping in awe and horror? I use my laptop to upload pictures to Instagram. I also view other people’s pictures that way.

This for-PC Instagram app works decently for browsing. However, to upload pictures and use what few features it offers, your laptop needs to either have a tablet mode or a touchscreen, possibly both. I’m not clear on the requirements. The app store doesn’t specify, and I emailed Instagram to inquire a few weeks ago and haven’t heard back.

The official Instagram app for tablets/touchscreen PCs lacks some of the newer, popular features like polls, emojis and stickers, mute/muting, Live story, you can’t upload story videos on it, and the new IGTV isn’t available either (although they may still be rolling this out in sections).

The most important feature this app lacks? Business Insights, aka analytics data.

Instagram (the company) has, in the past, expressed little to no interest in updating this app for PC/tablet, because they want people to use the mobile app. Cool. That’s their decision. I’m not sure it’s a smart one.

According to the Census Bureau, 89% of all businesses in USA are small businesses (fewer than 20 employees). And if you factor in the nonemployer businesses — one-man businesses – that percentage increases to 98%. (source and source)

Consider how many small businesses are using Instagram to promote their products, and also consider that many photographers and other creative creators are using Instagram to try grow a fan-base (ahem). Being able to access Insights on any and all platforms, whether it’s desktop or mobile, is a critical feature they need.

It used to be you could post images at a specific time, and your followers would see it in their stream. If you stuck to a posting schedule, they could come to expect seeing your pictures at that time and day. All the pictures of the people you followed would be sorted in your stream by time/date; this was referred to as chronological ordering.

But then Instagram decided to shake things up and prioritize certain pictures over others and boost sponsored content and ads.

I’m cool with this — they have to make money to stay in business, after all. But this change made it even more challenging to reach your fan base and reach new eyeballs.

The pictures you view in your stream are seemingly random. There’s a super-sekrit algorithm that dictates how and when you see specific pictures and ads. There’s no visible rhyme nor reason to how the algorithm works and the rest of us are guessing at how to game this. Only Instagram knows.

And that’s why the Instagram Insights are important to users looking to build their accounts.

Not all small businesses have the resources or finances to purchase cell phones for their employees to use. A more logical purchase expense, in contrast, are computers, which have multiple uses and can easily be used by multiple people.

Not all businesses have the resources to subscribe to a high-end digital marketing service like Marketo.

It continues to surprise me that Instagram would dig their heels in on updating this app.

Anyway. Instagram’s Insight, which analyzes the likes, hearts, engagement, and so forth,  is an incredibly useful tool for everyone to use, especially if you’re interested in growing your fanbase. It offers a snapshot of which pictures perform well, which day of week and time of day are the most ideal for getting maximum reach, and so forth.

With this information, you can tailor your posts to maximize your chances of growing your followers.

The Hunt for a Third-Party App

I’ve been plugging along without Instagram Insights. The other day I got my panties in a twist, and went hunting for third-party apps or tools that could access Insights data.

What I learned was there used to be a number of start-up companies that could access the Instagram Insights data, allowing small businesses and individuals to view their data in a web browser. For free!

Good news, huh? Not so much. These start-ups were quickly snapped up and bought out by larger companies, and the same services that were previously free were now paid or free-for-a-very-short-trial-period.

I’m not at the point where I want to pony up $30-$100 a month just to see my data.

To be fair, these companies offer other premium features like marketing analyses, campaign tracking, and tools to manage customer engagement. Which are great features for a company, but not for individuals like myself and small-business owners.

With further investigation, I found one last holdout, which still offers access to Instagram Insights: Squarelovin’

Isn’t that a cute name?

Squarelovin’

For the moment, this web-tool is free. I signed up for services, and authorized the tool to access my Instagram account.

Pros

  • Easy signup
  • Free
  • In-web browser tool – large, easy to see graphs and charts
  • Comprehensive – it appears to grok all the data that you’d get from Insights, including Engagement and keyword impact.

Cons

  • No FAQ or helpfiles
  • Some charts unclear what they actually measure or how they’re useful
  • Appears to update only once a day – I’m fine with considering this is a free tool, but some people might need up-to-the-minute information
  • Can’t download data for offline use – if there’s a way, I haven’t found it.

This graph shows how many Instagram posts I’ve made since I started this Instagram account.

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Not super useful, but still a neat visual. I started ramping up Instagram posts last fall.

This shows # of likes vs the average likes.

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This is where a little explanation is needed. I’m not really clear on how to interpret this chart or how it’s valuable to me.

This next section, I find really handy, though. This looks at how my pictures performed in the past 90 days and gives me a spitball estimate on the best day of week and time of day to get maximum views and engagement.

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The best days for me to post new Instagram pictures are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Times: 9:AM — when people arrive at their offices and check emails and social media, no doubt – and after noon.

This is basically the same set of data, but in a different (and pretty) visual.

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And this is my followers growth chart over the past week. I wish it’d show the data for a longer time period, but hey, I’ll take it.

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I’ve noticed that my followers # tends to fluctuate by +/-5 from one day to the next; this can be attributed to bots following/unfollowing. My “real” list of followers is probably 5-10 less than what’s shown on this chart.

Other data: if you regularly use Instagram filters, you can see which ones perform well. I don’t use Instagram filters, so I have no chart to show you.

For now, Squarelovin’ is free. I’m sure it’ll be bought out soon, like its other predecessors. Go take advantage while you can.

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