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{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights_ Instagram Analytics and Impact on Influencers

In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris talk about Instagram analytics. With Instagram already testing out the removal of Likes, what impact will this have on brands who rely on Instagram analytics data to discover and value Instagram influencers? Why is Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, doing this? (hint: money) Listen to the episode to find out!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
This is In-Ear Insights the trust insights podcast.

Katie Robbert
This episode of In-Ear Insights is brought to you by knowledge matters. Do you teach marketing at a collegiate level? Imagine using immersive visual interactive marketing simulations designed for today’s digitally Native students. Besides bringing marketing concepts to life, it’s cloud based and includes automatic grading and easy integration with all popular collegiate learning management systems, such as Canvas, Blackboard, or Moodle. If you would like to check out case simulations that cover all the key concepts for an intro to marketing course, including pricing, promotion, market research, market segmentation, and much, much more. Sign up today for a demo at WWW dot knowledge matters comm slash podcast.

Christopher Penn
In this week’s episode of In-Ear Insights, we are talking about Instagram analytics, Instagram has for years had a two basic forms of analytics, two basic numbers, right? Well, three technically the number of people who follow you. Yeah, the number of likes did you get? I’m the number of comments that you get. And these numbers have been used for the influencer marketing industry to create this perception of massive followings and massive, highly engaged audiences. And recently Facebook said, Hmm, we’re thinking about taking those numbers away from you and just giving you Yes, somebody like this, you know, a friend like this, but they’re saying we want to really focus on meaningful engagement Mark Zuckerberg famous saw, so Katie, what’s your first take on Instagram analytics and the potential removal of likes?

Katie Robbert
Well, first and foremost, Instagram analytics, suck. Just kind of put that out there. They’re not great as data, a nap analysts analysis, whatever the word is, it’s not great for someone who’s trying to measure the effectiveness, Instagram analytics are just not great. So to remove the little bit of analytics that you currently get, is really troubling. For people who actually do the analysis for everybody else, they probably won’t care for influencers, specifically, you know, it’s part of their whole self esteem is to get a bunch of likes, oh, my God, my post didn’t get likes. And so what that’s going to do to their own sanity, I have no idea. But I can tell you from the other side of it, as someone who’s trying to understand the data, it’s going to be really rough, because the data that we currently get isn’t great. And there have been some third party data platforms, there was one that Chris you and I used to use, that works pretty well, I believe it was called Magic metrics. Yeah. And then unfortunately, it went away. And so our ability to get good data from Instagram, and has just always been a challenge. So I’m not thrilled about the decision to remove even more data from an already struggling platform. From a data perspective, from a user perspective, it’s fine. But from a data perspective, it’s going to be tough.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, so from an influencer marketing perspective, then I think this is this is an interesting sort of baseball bat to the need for the mega influencers, who are saying, like, I have X amount of, of likes, and follows stuff like that. What What should brands be thinking about, about when it comes to this?

Katie Robbert
Well, I think first and foremost, I, we have to take a step back and really sort of understand the, why are you even on Instagram, so there’s a lot of brands on Instagram, and Instagram is really a visual platform, and not every brand is a visual brand. And so a lot of the photos that come up for different brands kind of feel a little bit awkward, because it’s not something that you would necessarily want to follow. If it’s, you know, if I’m constantly showing pictures of my employees, well, that’s great for the employees of that company. But for people outside of the company, there’s nothing for them to really relate to. So first and foremost, I think brands need to figure out is Instagram, the right platform? Or is it just checking a box to say I’m on Instagram? Follow me there. A lot of restaurants, it makes sense, because you can take pictures of the food, you know, and so for influencers, you know, they’re obviously trying to partner with brands. And so it’s a little bit of a chicken and egg where, you know, does the brand exists for the influencer to partner with? Or is there an influencer you can partner with? So then you need to get your brand on Instagram. So in a rambling, very sort of way, brands need to be thinking about Do they even belong on Instagram in the first place?

Christopher Penn
Yeah, I would agree with that. And then I think if you if you made the decision that you should be there, then it’s it’s time for you to start doing your own analytics. So there are a couple of different ways number one, as we saw recently in the news with the 36 shirt problem, the Twitter influencer, but 2 million followers that couldn’t sell 36 t shirts,

Katie Robbert
I made me so happy not for the brand. Like just as, as an analyst of like, Okay, see,

Christopher Penn
having having big reach doesn’t always mean anything. Exactly. So obviously tracking those engagements, if your goal is to sell stuff, and you want that direct line of sight between the campaign and a measurable ROI, certainly having that really great tracking, that really great analytics, those clear systems in your marketing technology stack that connect the dots for you is going to be essential. The other thing that brands should be doing and really should have been doing all along, because we used to say this in the public relations world all the time, and nobody ever did it was run surveys, asking people how they’ve heard of you if they’ve heard of you? And if so how they’ve heard of you, and on your things like your website and your intake forms, how did you hear about us? Or what made you reach out to contact us today? Things like that. That is real data, getting information from the customer. So that if you say you’re selling t shirts, right and you you have a little drop down box like Instagram influencers one of the choices if nobody ever selects Instagram influencer, or Instagram celebrity or something, then guess what your campaigns not generating any any ROI? That’s that’s pretty obvious. Even when people say, Oh, well, I’m a brand influencer, I don’t I don’t move sales, I just build your brand. Cool. We’re going to run some, some NPS scores, you know, have you heard of this brand of the last 90 days? And if so, what is your intent to make a purchase from this brand in the next 90 days, and the numbers from both those are still zeros? Clearly, the influencer is not not interested. One thing anything?

Katie Robbert
Well, and the flip side of that is there are brands who 100% belong on Instagram, and majority of their revenue come from Instagram sales, because you can enable as a business, this ability to sell through Instagram. So again, if your brand is very visual, or you have b2c products, like jewelry, like fashion, like t shirts, you can sell directly through Instagram. So there are those use cases where it 100% makes sense to sort of put all of your time and effort into Instagram. So now I have a question for you, Chris, because this is something that I should probably know the answer to, but I actually don’t is. So the algorithm that feeds the timeline in Instagram, it’s chronological, but it seems to also be similar to LinkedIn, where if the amount of engagement that the post is getting, that gives you that that determines the order of which you see things, do you know the how the algorithm works, in order for showing content to users,

Christopher Penn
it is not chronological, which is a point of soreness for many Instagram users, at least the early ones who were on it, when it was purely chronological. Now it is fully the same algorithm that Facebook uses to decide what’s in your newsfeed. So it is, who you’re connected to, who they’re connected to the topics that you’re interested in, then the level of engagement that you have. So if you want to fun, slightly amusing thing to do, if you go to Instagram and the app, go to settings, go to ads, and then you can see what Instagram things your ad interests are, it will actually give you a nice little checkbox list of here’s everything that the software things you care about, and therefore we should show you ads for so I’m going to go to mine actually right now and say about ads, what are my what is it that Instagram? Thanks, I am interested in? And the answer is a whole bunch of things. Like

Unknown Speaker
I’m not

Christopher Penn
really sure they should things that that I actually care about. Things like for example, member states of the EU. I mean,

Katie Robbert
that’s very random. I like the EU. But why do you need to see a bunch of ads about it? But

Christopher Penn
yeah, that is not something that I would classify as something is interesting to me. And something that I feel like I should I should be seeing a whole lot of so you can see this right in your own Instagram settings. There’s another one I’m trying to find this because actually post a story about this of the the various other things Instagram things I like, and some of them were horrendous Lee like hilarious. Your face Syria, American Idol. Now not my favorite show, like the voice but not American Idol. Worcester, Massachusetts, no. Modern Art, no. Yoga journal. No. So there’s a whole bunch of the heavy metal subculture know, these are all things that have

Unknown Speaker
zero interest in them.

Christopher Penn
And so what forms the algorithm for the ad interest is also driven, you know, that is sort of a sanity check as to how Instagram is deciding what posts to show you because it’s using Facebook’s image recognition software, like this is a picture of three people smiling and a drink, right? So if alcohol is one of your interests, that’s going to give you slightly higher, likely showing that post than, say, a picture of three people smoking weed. If we design your list of things you like, then it’s probably not going to show it as well, that said, because these are all deep learning networks, there is a tremendous amount of opacity about how these algorithms make their choices. So your questions are really good one because Facebook’s not necessarily going to tell you

Katie Robbert
know, and that’s a whole different topic is the inability of Facebook to share what it is they’re actually doing. So back to the topic at hand of Instagram analytics. So this conversation started because Instagram is proposing to get rid of likes, so you can probably still like something but it’s not going to show you the number of likes that you’re getting. And so there’s there’s two sides to this discussion. One is that, Chris, what you’re saying is that Instagram influencers can no longer inflate the number of likes that they get, because you can’t see it. But the other side of that is how can you verify that the number that they’re telling you is accurate? Because Yeah, you can’t see it. So I feel like this, to me, this is why it’s so troublesome not only because you can’t really, you know, you can’t see at a glance sort of how things are doing. But you have no way of validating if the person you’re trying to hire is telling you the truth about their metrics.

Christopher Penn
And therefore, this is to me, a very clever play by Facebook, to diminish the importance of influence and stop getting grants to spend money with influencers and start getting grants to spend more money with Facebook ads. Because if you say I’m going to spend $100,000 and now you’re saying Well, I have no idea what they’re trying to invest in, it’s going to be cuz I can’t verify the influencers numbers, or I can put it into the Facebook ad system. And I know we’re going to get, you know, 2.4% return on ad spend. The Conservative CFO is gonna like you’re not given that influencer 100 grand just to take a bunch of pictures in a field of flowers know, you’re going to put it in the ad system, and you got to get a guaranteed known return, it may not be a great return. But you know, we know are going to get out of the ad machine.

Katie Robbert
I think that that’s exactly it. And I think that that’s a conversation, honestly, that has probably been happening behind closed doors for a while, because in my experience, and I know in yours as well, the use of influencers tends to go really wrong really fast. And so this notion of well, they have a million followers. Cool. That is not the only metric that you should be looking at when considering hiring an influencer. And again, we always go back to the example of Kardashians, but they’ve earned that reputation of they have that reach they can, you know, put their name behind a product and people will want to buy it. Well, what we saw in the PR industry was that companies are very eager to hire these influencers, because they have the reach reach that the companies themselves don’t have, which is great for brand awareness, but not great for conversion. And I think that that’s something that as Instagram continues to evolve their analytics companies really need to be paying attention to is what is the goal? What is the question you’re trying to answer? What are you trying to do with an influencer? on a platform such as Instagram or any other platform? Instagram’s? not the only one. But for the sake of this conversation? If the data is going away, then how are you measuring it? And I think that’s something that brands went to your question brands need to do. They need to evolve their measurement plan,

Christopher Penn
they need to evolve their measurement plan. And something we’ve been saying again, for 10 years now, stop building on rented land, you as a brand have absolutely no control over what Facebook does with your page or what Instagram does with your business profile. And it’s so funny, because it’s not, you know, it’s not polite to make fun of other people’s misfortune. But it is completely unsurprising that Facebook said for two years, hey, brands, you should build a business profile. And now they’re like, hey, brands now you need to pay to have to be seen again. Haha. Right? This is a pattern that Facebook has shown over and over and over again. So it’s no surprise. So for brands, yes, be on Instagram, if it’s appropriate, as we were discussing earlier if there’s a strategy, but for goodness sakes, get people off of social networks and into a system that you control. If you and I were reading a political article the other day going to delve into the specifics, who reading a political article where someone was saying, you know, they have leaked all the usable information out of Facebook that they can and now they’re really building that first party database, like we want emails, we want mobile phone numbers, we want postal addresses, we want every way to reach people directly cutting out the enormously expensive, you know, middleman of these these social networks. And whether or not I agree with that, pull up that politician, that strategy is a smart strategy. If you are not building your website, your email list, your text list, your slack community, your going to get caught with your brand down.

Katie Robbert
For those who haven’t had a chance to listen, Chris and I talked about this a few weeks ago when we talked about this notion of communities on social media. And so there’s a lot more information there. So check out that episode from a few weeks back. But you’re absolutely right, Chris, I think that there’s too much weight quit on what a social media platform can do for your brand. They, the social media platforms themselves are changing so fast, to the detriment of the brand, that a lot of what you may have wanted to invest just it’s not available. So. And just as a side note, for those who aren’t aware, but most people at this point, our Facebook does indeed own Instagram, just in case that part of the conversation was confusing. I think, you know, most people do know that at this point for but for those who weren’t aware, Facebook owns Instagram, which is why we’re seeing so much change so quickly with the platform.

Christopher Penn
Yeah. Now here’s the last strategies Yep, all throw. And that is that Facebook is desperate to get people to do do things that work to its benefit, right, which means that when it announces a new feature, for a short time, and it’s typically, you know, three to six months or until they start to see real business results, they we’ll prioritize in their algorithms, that new thing. So for example, when the ability to load video to Facebook became the thing, Facebook gave significant preference. And for like three months, video was all we saw it on news feeds, that has since settled out, Facebook went live for a number of months. And again, live was everything we saw out of course that has now settled down and backed into the normal thing of reach. So if you want to figure out what’s going to work on Facebook now and in the near future, go and subscribe to Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or any of these networks, blogs, their developers blog read for these are the coming changes in our API’s. These are the things that we are announcing that we are rolling out and as soon as it rolls out, you’ve got a three month window to get. My friend Gary van der Chuck calls it underpriced attention, the ability to get preference from that algorithm for a short time. And it really is like Tarzan swinging from algae Welcome to algorithm as as you try and make use of this. But again, use it for the attention, get the attention and then get that attention to something you own. And I would I would add to that, please don’t neglect your SEO is still if you haven’t checked your analytics lately, you should because it is the for us back to being the number one driver of traffic and I was looking at my own website. My Websites been around for almost 15 years now. And for a period from 2013 to 2016. Yes, social was the thing after 2016. It’s all SEO all the time now.

Katie Robbert
And that’s something that you can have more control over. So to Chris’s point, don’t neglect your SEO, don’t neglect your email list. Don’t neglect your, you know, direct campaigns. Don’t neglect your users make see where they are, find out what they’re interested in, how they want to interact with you and your website and continually adapt. Maybe social media is the thing for them. Maybe it’s appropriate for the brand. But don’t just assume so do your due diligence because social media, Instagram, the analytics that you can get from these platforms. They are constantly evolving. It will be nothing but a headache. Absolutely.

Christopher Penn
So that’s going to wrap it up for this episode stuff. If you have not subscribed to the podcast, go to trust insights.ai slash podcast with your favorite pod catcher. Whether it’s iTunes, Google Play Stitcher, Spotify, you name it, and subscribe there. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next time. Thanks for listening to in your insights leave a comment on the accompanying blog post if you have follow up questions or email us at marketing at trusty insights.ai If you enjoyed this episode, please leave review on your favorite podcast service like iTunes, Google podcasts stitcher or Spotify. And as always, if you need help with your data and analytics visit trust the insights AI for more


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