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As every social media manager knows, there is a lot more to the success of an Instagram post than just the likes it gets (especially as Instagram is testing hiding the number of likes that posts receive from followers). From engagement rate to follower count increases, there are a ton of metrics to track. Even if you do know how to measure a certain metric, do you know what that metric should look like for success?

In order to determine what realistic goals brands could be setting for their Instagram metrics in 2021, we gathered a year’s worth of Instagram performance data to determine what the top 20% of our clients based on engagement were doing well and how. The performance data of these 345 clients across 19 industries (beauty, apparel, food and beverage, entertainment, consumer goods, etc.) is what we used to establish updated benchmarks for Instagram performance. 

See what benchmarks our best-in-class clients are achieving to help you to understand where you stand, what you could improve upon, and where you should double down.

Instagram Reach Rate 

Definition: Reach Rate is the percentage of your followers that see your post or story.
Reach Rate= Number of people who have seen your post/ Followers

1. Reach Rate by brand size

It turns out, in some cases, that size does matter. There are clear differences in Reach Rate between brands with a large following (over 500K) and those with a smaller following (under 10K). Brands with larger followings should expect a lower Reach Rate than brands with small followings. 

  • Larger: Brands with large followings should aim to meet or exceed an average Reach Rate of 15% for an Instagram post and 2% for an Instagram Story.
  • Smaller: Brands with a smaller number of followers should aim to meet or exceed the higher benchmark of 36% of their audience through posts and 7% through Stories.

2. Reach Rate’s impact on conversion

Definition: Conversion Rate is the percentage of total visitors to your website that convert. Depending on the business goal, conversion can be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or signing up for a subscription. 
Conversion Rate = Total conversions / Total visitors

Reach Rate equates to more than just buzz – it means conversion as well. Among leading social brands, where reach is higher, you should see higher website visits and web conversion.

The average Conversion Rate for the brands that perform in the top 20% of the Instagram accounts we analyzed is 0.3%. It’s significantly higher for brands with 10K-50K followers (2.2%) followed by brands with <10K followers (1.8% conversion), implying brands with smaller following have a higher Conversion Rate.

3. Reach for Stories versus posts

Since Instagram posts are evergreen and stay on your profile forever, it’s not surprising that they tend to get more Reach than Stories (that disappear in 24 hours). Our top 20% Instagram performers get seven times more Reach on Instagram posts than Instagram Stories.  

Engagement Rate

Definition: Engagement Rate measures how many people interacted with your content versus how many people saw it. To calculate it, simply divide the number of engagements you have (comments, likes, saves etc.), by your follower count.
Engagement Rate = Engagements/Followers

4. Engagement Rate by following size

Engagement Rate differs based on the number of followers a brand’s Instagram has. Brands with less than <50K followers should aim to meet or exceed an 11.3% Engagement Rate, whereas brands with over 100K followers should expect a lower percentage (7.7%). However, there are a few exceptions, with a small number of brands with over a million followers bucking the trend with higher Engagement Rates.

5. Engagement Rate for photos versus video

It should come as a surprise to no one what type of visual content engages more on Instagram — it’s photos, which are the bread and butter of the platform. The average Engagement Rate for top performers’ photos is 13%, while for video it’s 8.5%

6. Visual content Engagement Rate by industry

Depending on your brand’s industry you may want to aim for a higher or lower benchmark for Engagement Rates on your Instagram posts. Some industries can expect half the Engagement Rate of others. Or is that double the opportunity? 

7. Most engaging times to post on Instagram

For our top performers, the best times to post and achieve higher Engagement Rates are at 7 am EST, between 4 pm-5 pm EST and at 7 pm EST

This varies a bit by industry. For instance, cosmetics and beauty brands can achieve a higher Engagement Rate by posting between 9 am-10 am EST and 1 pm-2 pm EST while those in the apparel industry can do it by posting between 10 am-1 pm EST or at 7 pm EST.

Along with time of the day, there are other factors to consider that can also influence Engagement Rate, such as day of the week, holidays, the time zone of your primary audience, and current affairs to name a few.

Services like Bazaarvoice’s Social Publishing tool help take the guesswork out of scheduling your posts. 

8. Instagram Saves Engagement Rate

Using the Instagram save function, users can save posts for themselves to check out or refer to at a later time. Saves are a good measure of the quality of your content, as they indicate that what you posted is worth coming back to. On average, the top 20% of Instagram performers have a Saves Engagement Rate of 0.5%.

Instagram Stories Metrics

9. Instagram Stories Completion Rate by size

Definition: Completion Rate is how many people have watched an Instagram Story to the end.
Completion Rate = Number of people who viewed the last segment in your Story/Number of people who viewed the first segment

The Stories Completion Rate is a great metric to evaluate the quality of your Instagram Stories, and see what type of content your followers deem worthy of watching until the end. The average Stories Completion Rate across all categories and following size is 87%. However, the trend we see most often is that the higher the follower count, the higher the Story Completion Rate.

10. Instagram Stories Tap Forward Rate

Definition: Tap Forward rate is the percentage of people who have tapped forward to see the next photo or video in an Instagram Story.
Tap Forward Rate =  Taps/Impressions

The average Tap Forward Rate is 67%. There is a strong correlation between the number of stories published, daily posting rate, and Tap Forward Rate. Brands who post more stories consistently receive higher Tap Forward Rates and eventually get higher Stories Completion Rates too.

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By comparing your brand’s performance to others, especially your competitors, you’ll get a better feel for how your social strategy should shape up for this year and beyond.

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