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7 Things to Help Making Sense of Instagram’s Numbers

7 Things to Help Making Sense of Instagram’s Numbers

A Prelude in Honor of KLOUT

If you haven’t heard of it, KLOUT rate your social media impact with a score, and in the US, some restaurant and services might give you discounts based on your KLOUT score, in hope that they get more exposure through you promoting them in social media.

Today, few and fewer people know KLOUT, and fewer services established a partnership with it. The reason? Because engagement in social media has become more complex than ever. It goes beyond friends, like, or followers count, there are many factors depending on the social media itself. The numbers aren’t real anymore. This time, I want to talk about Instagram, whose numbers, in my opinion, are the fakest amongst all social media.

Reality of Instagram Numbers

I had a discussion recently in which we compare how someone with 250 followers in Instagram gets average likes of 100, while others get the same average like with 1000 followers.

Marketers, especially specializing in the online channel have long developed the term called engagement rate, which calculates how an online content successfully engages its audience. The term audience itself goes beyond just followers count. It includes other users discovering your posts through other means.

With that in mind, let’s try to factor how to break down someone’s engagement rate on Instagram, beyond their followers or likes number.

1. User’s Demographics

Let’s start by with a simple proverb saying that “an elephant hangs out with elephants, and a monkey hangs out with monkeys”.

School students are more likely to be followed by their fellow classmates and schoolmates, and college students are more likely to be followed by the people in his college environment.

‘Socialite’ people tends to be followed by their fellow socialite who loves to spend hours daily opening Instagram, while seasonal Instagram users (such as professionals) tends to be followed by their fellow professionals.

It is important to note, though, that the number of social media someone’s having is radically different to how active they are on the platform.

For example, I am active in 5 social media, spending 10 minutes on each daily. Others might only active in 2 social media but spend an hour on each daily.

This means that while people follow each other to keep in touch (especially with the new Instagram stories and messaging features), doesn’t mean that they engage frequently by liking each other’s posts.


Few demographics simply have higher engagement rate than the others.

 2. Existence of Spam accounts

Ah, they plague every social media out there. But in Instagram, where people ‘follow’ instead of ‘friending’ each other, Spam accounts have more freedom to engage in someone’s post. Be they like it or not.

Having SPAM accounts in your followers mean they are just there to increase your followers count, without actually engage in your posts. Some genuine SPAM account, that is controlled by humans, sometimes likes your post to get more attention, but this rarely happens as most SPAM accounts are bot controlled or passively follow people and that’s it.

Instagram, of course, implement the private account feature. While this somehow denies the essence of Instagram at the very first place, it is a good tool to control your privacy and filter the SPAM account in your followers. Lately, Instagram also implemented a new automated filter that notifies you automatically when it thinks an account is SPAM ones.


Private accounts tend to have more genuine follower counts.

 3. Buying followers

If you don’t know you can buy followers in Instagram, welcome to the first day of social media. It’s been there since the days of Twitter. With Twitter where there were no ‘likes’, buying tons of followers make you looks cool. Back in the days, there was also no ‘retweet count’ so it is harder to identify whether someone has genuine followers or fake ones.

Bought followers are basically a fake account that just follows you and sit there doing nothing, as nobody is controlling them. They can be easily identified by having no followers (ironically), little to no post with nonsense content.

Today, there is a more expensive service in Instagram called ‘active followers’ where basically your ‘bought followers’ are guaranteed to give regular likes to your posts. I highly advise against buying followers. But if you do, make sure to buy the active ones.


There are dormant zombies in Instagrams.

4. Physical Appearances

No explanation needed


Life is unfair

5. Hashtags

Instagram implemented Hashtags to help people discover other’s people pictures, but today it is being abused absurdly to gets likes from strangers or even bots. Some effective and well-implemented hashtags still help you get more engagement from outer circles (non-followers), but too many hashtags are irritating your true follower’s eye. I don’t know about you, but my friends and I are more likely to like a post with no to 5 hashtags and immediately skip those who use tons of Hashtags.


Posts with well-implemented hashtags can get more engagement

6. Location of the picture

The impact of this one is a bit small, but people do browse location-embedded post to find inspiration for their own pictures. If your picture is good enough and taken in a well-searched location, chances are people going to look at yours and leave a like or comment.


Heaven is a place on earth.

7. Content Quality

You can argue with me all day regarding all previous factors you state, but I guarantee you agree with this one?

No matter who follows you, no matter how active your followers are, no matter at what time do you post, a good post is always a good post.

Pictures showing memorable moments such as graduations and marriages, mind blowing photographs, funny pictures, or even nonsense with good captions are the posts that truly wins you likes and engagements should you need them.


Good quality content is indeed good

8. Time of the post

Instagram recently dropped the time-based news feed in favor of ‘intelligent’ ones, an algorithm borrowed from Facebook (of course you knew already Instagram now belongs to Facebook, no?). For those of you unaware of this changes, Instagram now presents seemingly random posts on your home feed, which was compiled by a complex algorithm trying to show you “the post you really want to see right now”

This changes, allegedly, is to improve the quality of user’s home feed, lessening the effect of ‘peak times’ – where many users post their content on specific timeframes such as lunch break and dinner to increase the likes count. So yes, this one is no longer relevant and just there for being informative.


Forget this one

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