Instagram Strategy: What Can We Learn From Our Impressions?


I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this post, you have an Instagram account. And I’m guessing that that Instagram is also probably a business account, or you’re thinking about making the switch from personal if you haven’t moved over to business already. In the age of influencers, it can be so easy to get blinded by numbers (specifically your follower count). But there are some numbers that can be of use to you—that you can look at and analyze to draw conclusions about what you’re doing that is working well and what you could improve upon. Wow, If only my AP statistics teacher could see me now! Don’t worry I’m not going to be doing any fancy math here, but rather look at some numbers, identify common themes that I notice on my Instagram account and draw conclusions about what kinds of photos people like, and what they scroll past faster than you can say “#sponsored.”

First, let’s clarify some terminology. Today, I’m just going to be focusing on impressions. Engagement is any way a user interacts with your post. This can mean a like, a comment or a save. On the other hand, an impression on Instagram means that someone has seen your post—maybe they’ve clicked on it on the explore page or maybe they follow you and it appeared in their feed. In my case, posts with higher impressions are the result of one of two things: 1. One of my followers saw the photo and went back to look at it again or 2. Many people who don’t follow me saw the photo for some reason. Both are great because in the first case it means my followers like what they see so much they’ve gone back for a second look or that something about the photo (maybe the geotag, a hashtag, or the content of the image) caught the attention to someone outside of my follower sphere. And if they liked that, there’s a chance they may go to my profile to like more photos and may even take it a step further and click that follow button.

With an Instagram business account you have access to your analytics, and one thing that I find fascinating to look at is my impressions. I recently went onto this page and took screenshots of my photos with the most impressions and my photos with the fewest impressions over the last year.

Let’s start with my photos that have the fewest impressions. Now this is not to say that they’re not great photos or that I don’t love them, it just means that in terms of overall performance and the kind of content that people expect on my feed, there was something about them that just didn’t amaze my audience. Here are some of the common things I notice that these photos have in common:


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Flat lays + Product specific shots

Looking back at some of these photos (most of which were posted 6-12 months ago) I can totally see why they didn’t get a huge amount of impressions. Many of the product shots look a lot like ads or content that would be coming from a brand. If I were to re-do some of those, I’d incorporate them more into my own environment rather than isolate them on a marble background. I find that that looks great on my blog and Pinterest, but it doesn’t come across as well on Instagram.


I also now know that unless I create a vertical crop of a video with a great still image, I probably wouldn’t put it on my feed. Instead I post my 15-second teasers on my stories where more people are likely looking for them. 

Scenic photos with no people in them

I think that for a lot of these, my caption didn’t say a whole lot about the photo. They didn’t necessarily provide context and in that way they didn’t provide value. One shot of the NYC skyline simply read “It’s rooftop season as long as I say it is.” It’s cute but it certainly wouldn’t make you come back to it for any reason or look at it for longer than a few seconds.

Fashion week photos

This is the one time of the year where most of my own personal ‘gram rules go out the window. I know I spam my feed with content from fashion week and I’m sure the people who follow me follow other editors too. I know that content is much better served on stories but sometimes there’s a look I love and don’t want to forget like the lemon yellow Claudia Li dress or the Eugenia Kim hats.

There are a few photos mixed in here that are crisp, well-lit photos of me that just seem to have not done that well? Those I don’t understand! Maybe it had something to do with the time I posted or what the captions were.

Let’s move on to my photos with the most impressions. Here are some common themes I noticed:


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This doesn’t surprise me at all because Andrew is very easy on the eyeballs. But for real, I get it. I’m a human, you’re a human, we’re nosy by nature! We want to know about each other’s personal lives and romantic relationships whether we admit it or not.

Food pics

This is why food Instagrams have hundreds of thousands of followers. People love to look at photos of great food. It’s just a fact. And New York has so many places with Instagrammable foods. So the prosecco donut, the salmon bagel from the Tiffany’s cafe, the cotton candy ice cream, and the taro smoothie from Tayaki that comes with its own unicorn floatie are things that I would stare at all day too. I bet the geotags played a big part in the high impressions for these.


Again, this is pretty self explanatory. Although I do find it funny that my photos with Hilary Duff and Whitney Port aren’t up there with Hari Nef and Rachel and Bryan of Bachelor fame. But hey, they’re all great!

My bedroom

This is part two of that whole being nosy thing. Whenever I take photos in my bedroom, where I spend so much time, people feel like they’re being let in on something intimate and personal, and they are! I also feel like my room has a lot of red in it which really makes it pop on my feed.

Bathing suit photos

It also appears that people like to look at other people’s bodies and I think we have the Kardashians to thank for this. I have to admit this is a little intimidating thinking that all of those people are just sitting there looking at your body, likely criticising parts of it whether they express those opinions via comment or not. But hey, if you’re feeling good in the swimsuit, POST THE PHOTO.

Classic New York shots

The rooftop shots, the street style, the colorful restaurants...anything that is quintessential New York is something my followers love to see.

There’s also a fashion week photo here that did really well! It was taken at Lauduree Soho where J. Mendel hosted his presentation. I mean it’s gorgeous so I get why people liked it, but it’s interesting that other fashion week photos were at the bottom of the spectrum. I guess those are just hit or miss sometimes.

Have you ever gone back and looked at your Instagram impressions? What can you learn from them?