Strategy: Instagram Stories Insights Explained

With Instagram Story insights—a nicer term for “analytics”—soon to be available to business accounts, social strategists will have a huge new pile of data to interpret and explain.  Here are our quick guides to the four new pieces of data Instagram will offer you on your stories: reach, impressions, replies and exits. 

IMPORTANT! Insights are only available for the 24 hours your story is active, so make sure to check before the story expires.  When we post a story, we always set a calendar reminder for 23 hours later so we do not miss the chance to view the story’s stats. 


The total number of unique people who have seen a story makes up a story’s reach. This metric should be your primary way of judging a story’s overall success in terms of reaching your followers, although it will not indicate how effective the message of the story might be. That’s why including a strong, trackable call to action at some point in the story is important, so you can see whether your reach is translating to performance.


Each time a story is viewed by a user, Instagram counts as an impression, even if they have viewed the story before.  If 10 followers each view your story five times, the result is 50 impressions. There are many ways to interpret the gaps between reach and impressions, but overall your hope is to see growth in both categories, as more users watch your stories and more of them return for a second viewing. A particularly effective story might have a larger gap between Reach (lower) and Impressions (higher). 


If your story is meant to encourage viewers to click the “Send Message” button at the bottom, this tracks the number who did so.  We recommend constructing a story specifically around this feature to see when and how your followers might engage with you within Instagram through the Direct Message feature. 


Once a user chooses to start watching a story, they can choose to stop watching before each story is completed. “Exits” tracks the second option, allowing you to see which posts kept users watching, and which failed to keep their attention.  Not only will this be useful for marketers in constructing more compelling stories, but they will be able to measure whether their Instagram Stories hold their viewers’ attention better than traditional video content on Facebook and Instagram. 

One note on terminology—Often, we discuss “Instagram Stories” as the composite of all videos and photos currently available to watch on your account’s profile (accessible on your profile page by clicking on your profile, or in the story feed above the main app page.)  That’s because the “story” is often told across all those posts.  However, Instagram refers to each individual post as an Instagram Story, and their stats apply to those individual posts. It’s confusing, but since Instagram offers no way to “thread” multiple story posts into a single narrative, it has no way of tracking them as a whole. They are meant to be posted continuously, and Instagram tracks them that way. 

As more features like tagging users and linking to external sites come to Instagram Stories, these stats will grow in importance for constructing effective messages within the app. We are excited to offer more analysis on how to best use Instagram Story Insights as we study them for our own accounts.

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