Raise your hand if you have ever been perplexed by WTF Instagram is doing. Uh huh, us too. We could tell you that you just need to post good content (what does that even mean?!), use the “right” hashtags (#SOS), and engage with your audience (howwwww?)… but it is not that simple.

All of those tips are good, but they don’t tell the complete story. Yup, Instagram is confusing. Instagram uses a very particular sorting system (called an algorithm) to organize your feed. Once upon a time, this algorithm was very simple: it was just chronological. Today, it’s significantly more complicated. It would be naive and not very helpful for us to recommend that posting good content with relevant hashtags and engaging with your audience is enough. It’s just not. (How many times have you heard that same spiel passed around as “advice” on how to grow your Instagram account?! A billion?)

If you want to be successful on Instagram, there is a lot of work to be done, plain and simple. There is no formula or straightforward way to grow your Instagram account. But what we can explain and guide you on are your metrics.

Growth is objectively measured by numbers, so if you can understand your numbers and why they go up (or down), you can control your growth.


Metrics That Matter:

Your follower number matters, but it’s not necessarily as important as other metrics. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the numbers, but it’s much easier to sift through them once you know what you’re looking for. There is no cut-and-dry way to measure Instagram success — it depends on what your goals are. Once you know your objectives, your metrics will make a lot more sense!

Check out these resources to help you establish your goals:

Be More Than Nice, Be NICHE

Setting Goals as a Newbie Blogger

4 Tips to the Creation & Promotion of Your Brand on Instagram



Reach are the number of people who see your content.


Impressions are the number of times your content is displayed. One viewer can account for multiple impressions if they reload the page, for example.


The comments, likes, retweets, favorites, etc. on a media.

Engagement Rate

The rate that users interact with a media.
Pick your 10* most recent posts, and jot down either on a piece of paper next to you or in a note on your laptop the total number of likes/shares/favorite/retweets/etc and the average number of comments each post got. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to get the average:

Total number of engagements/10 = Average number of engagements

*Note that if you only reference 5 posts, you will divide the total number of comments and likes by 5, and respectively for whatever number of posts you pulled data from.