Today, it seems like everyone is publishing Instagram Stories on a daily basis, and there’s no shortage of viewers.

When it comes to Stories, though, the goal isn’t just to get that first set of eyeballs; it’s to keep viewers coming back for more. And that’s where the data comes in. Instagram’s built-in Stories analytics miss the boat on helping you understand what it is about your content that’s keeping your audience’s attention.

So, what analytics do you need to know when you’ve struck the right chord? Unfortunately, the number of views doesn’t give you the full picture. And to paint that picture, there’s a lot of math involved.

We set out to find an answer to this question (and did the math ourselves) so you can focus on producing the content. See below to get a crash-course in these advanced Instagram Stories analytics:

  • Completion Rate
  • Exit Rate
  • Dropoff Rate
  • Tap Forward Rate

An introduction to Instagram Stories analytics

Stories are also useful for, well, telling stories. There’s a narrative you can tell woven through two, three, or five Story clips that you can’t with in-feed posts. Because Stories disappear after 24 hours, the message feels urgent and somehow more personal.

And while people are paying more attention to social media feeds these days, Instagram’s insights into Stories performance isn’t great at helping you understand how tuned in your audience is.

In fact, if you have an Instagram account you only have access to certain surface-level insights through your mobile app:

  • Impressions – The total number of views your story has received
  • Reach – The number of unique accounts who saw your story
  • Taps forward – The number of times someone taps to skip to the next piece of your story
  • Taps back – The number of times someone taps to go back to a previous piece of your story
  • Replies – The number of times people send messages through the Send Message option on your story
  • Swipe to next story – The number of times someone swipes to skip to the next account’s story
  • Exits – The number of times someone leaves the stories viewer to return to their feed

While these are a great jumping off point, these metrics don’t show stickiness. It’s impossible to tell what users are paying attention to in that Story line and what content is “keeping them going.”

4 next-level Instagram Stories insights

Before we tackle more advanced Instagram Stories analytics, it’s helpful to think of Story clips like a news segment: You have the weather, local news, sports, etc.

It’s useful to know how many people tuned in to the 6 o’clock news, sure, but it’s equally important to know where they drop off. It’s imperative to keep a viewer’s attention because you might have some important or exciting information at any point in your clips.

Metrics like total number of views are valuable, but don’t tell the whole story.

In order to get useful information, like, the rate at which users view your entire Story (or the whole news hour), there’s some math involved.

Completion rate

Let’s call this the Completion Rate. With Curalate, we break down performance by each Story by day and subsequently by each clip. In order to calculate the Completion Rate, you need the Reach of your day’s last clip and the reach of your first clip, which you can get from the Instagram app. The Completion Rate is calculated by dividing the reach of the last clip in a day by the reach of the first clip. We know from this information that 57% of the users who view your Story make it all the way to the end.

Reach of the last clip in a day / Reach of the first clip in a day = Completion rate

This is a great first step and definitely some interesting data, as you can begin comparing your days’ completion rates to understand which content is most interesting and engaging to your audience and whether your Stories length is optimized.

But it’s still not clear what made 43% of viewers bounce and where they decided to do so. The next metric, Exit Rate, is designed to find the answer.

Exit rate

Remember: Instagram has the ability to count the number of Exits on a clip, which is defined as the number of times someone leaves the Story viewer to return to their feed. This is based on exits from individual clips, which is how we can calculate an exit rate for each clip.

Exits / Impressions = Exit Rate

This can be super useful information when fleshing out your Stories strategy. If there’s a particular clip that has a relatively high exit rate compared to previous clips, you could assume viewers met that clip with negative sentiments. Perhaps they didn’t agree with the content being shared, or maybe it was too complicated to understand.

There are countless reasons viewers might exit out of a Story – one could be as simple as fatigue. But it’s useful to know what clip triggered that kind of response.

Dropoff rate

Dropoff Rate represents the rate at which people don’t make it to the next clip. To put it simply, if 100 people saw Clip 1 and 50 made it on to Clip 2 then the drop off rate would be 50%. This might indicate if a specific clip or content is particularly un-engaging.

Dropoff Rate is slightly different from Exit Rate in that Exiting a clip is actively shutting down the Story, and going back to your main feed. If a user “Drops out” of viewing a story, chances are they saw to the end of one clip but didn’t come back for more later in the day.

1 – (Reach of next clip / Reach of current clip) = Dropoff rate

For instance, you post a series of clips at 2pm. Later in the day, you post another set at 5pm. Anyone who made it all the way through 2pm’s clips but didn’t come back to view the others at 5pm has “dropped out” of that Story, and has contributed to the Dropoff Rate.

Let’s look at this in another, holistic way. Completion Rate (i.e. % of viewers you were able to retain through a series of clips)  helps you understand whether your content is engaging your audience across a series of clips. Dropoff Rate (i.e. which clips saw the largest drop-off in viewers) helps you pinpoint low performing clips to give you insights into how you can improve your overall story – and Completion Rate – over time.

Tap forward rate

Tap Forward Rate is the rate at which viewers are tapping forward to skip to the next clip. If you tap on the right edge of a clip, it moves forward to the next clip (or next story if there are no more clips).

By measuring rate as opposed to raw numbers, you can now compare performance between clips. Understanding which clips have a higher or lower tap forward rate gives you insight on how well they retained viewers’ attention.

Taps forward / Impressions = Tap forward rate

For example, if you see that one of your clips has a high tap forward rate, you know that there may have been a piece of content there that wasn’t super engaging. This can indicate whether your clip content is too long or not engaging to retain user attention till the end.

Tap Forward is also a data point that comes from Instagram, which you would have to find in the app and calculate using Impressions for each individual clip.

Measuring impact with Stories analytics

It’s easy to wrap your mind around things like Total Impressions, Average Reach, and Total Swipe Ups.

These can be gleaned from Instagram with simple addition. But as we saw before, calculating a Completion Rate is where things get a bit complicated. Not only do you need to know what data points to pull, you also need to have a list of formulas ready to calculate.

Average Daily Completion Rate is useful for getting a sense of the health of your account. But what if you want a more in-depth look at how each day’s content is performing?

This is where things get interesting. We developed Daily Story Performance analytics as a set of tools to help you understand how your audience is interacting with your Story content.

Let’s take a look at each of the Daily Story Performance metrics, how they’re calculated, and insights they share.

Daily story performance

Before diving into each Story clip, you can get a sense of the overall performance of a day’s story.

With this in-depth view of each day, you can see Total Impressions, Reach, Total Swipe Ups and the Completion Rate (which we calculated above) for clips posted over a 24 hour period.

  • Total Impressions is fairly easy to calculate – remember, impressions are the number of views your story received and Instagram tracks these.
  • Reach is the number of unique users who viewed your Story. Think of this as the number of people who saw your Story. It’s also helpful to remember that one person can watch your Story multiple times, which is why impressions are typically higher than reach.
  • Total Swipe Ups is the number of times the swipe up feature was used on your story (if you don’t have a swipe up this number will remain 0).
  • Completion Rate is the percentage of viewers who made it all the way to the end of your story.

Inside a day’s Stories, you get more details on each clip:

While Instagram’s Stories Analytics are helpful for getting baseline data, you’ll need to dive deeper to analyze trends on actual performance.

Whether you’re using a tool like Curalate or spreadsheetin’ like a pro, getting a holistic view of how you’re holding your audience’s attention will take your Stories game to the next level. Otherwise, you might get  too caught up in creating perfectly branded images and videos peeps won’t stick around to appreciate.

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