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5 Things to Know about Analysing Instagram

May 30, 2023by The Signoi Team

Instagram is a fascinating source of curated visual content, and one we use a lot for Signoi projects. Over the last couple of years we’ve learned how to get the most out of it – so here are our top tips for utilizing this invaluable resource.

1. Account-based sampling is a great tool

Suppose you want to look at a particular category like soft drinks. First, identify the accounts that are relevant to sample. These could be brands, influencers and so on. This type of analysis is very focused and usually gives good results, because the brands’ feeds are by definition relevant to what is being transmitted in the category. With brand and influencer analysis it’s also a good idea to capture metadata such as ‘likes’ so that you can start to analyse what types of visual content seem to be more engaging.

2. Hashtags can be useful if they are very specific

Equally, you might be interested in the context of when a particular brand is tagged. That’s pretty straightforward as long as the brand name is distinctive. Or – more complex – you might be investigating the Berlin music scene. In such case it’s best to identify hashtags that are really relevant before starting analysis. For example, #Berlin is likely to be far too general. Whereas #Berlingigs might get you a lot closer to what you want. It’s a good idea to spend time investigating and experimenting before shortlisting hashtags, because Instagram sampling will return posts from anywhere in the world with a particular hashtag. And the chances are, with a generalized hashtag, most of it will not be what you are looking for.

3. Consider content type – image posts, video, or both?

We can analyse either – but not together, they are apples and oranges. Most Instagram posts are still images, but the rise of short video is notable and sometimes deserves a particular focus, especially in the context of brand analysis. This analysis is particularly complex and is the subject of a detailed post here. Overall, it’s often better to start with the more straightforward image analysis before moving on to video. Our software automatically analyses all this into a series of intuitive dashboard outputs representing semiotic themes and clusters.

4. Consider date ranges

In general terms, the samples you get back from the Instagram API arrive in chronologically descending order, with the most recent posts first. However, you might want to look at trends over time. This is straightforward for account based sampling, because people and brands don’t post too often. But if you are running a hashtag analysis, the story may be very different. For example, how might the visual codes of #holidaygifting in the runup to Christmas be different in 2023, versus 2022, all the way back to 2019? To make sure you aren’t swamped with the latest posts only, you can set a series of sample date periods, creating slices of time for your trend analysis.

5. Images and text can be equally important

Finally, and this may seem obvious, posts come with both an image (which can be analysed) and some text (which can also be analysed). An example snapshot of analysis in the soft drinks category is shown below. In this case the software identified a cluster called relaxation, with many idyllic lifestyle and leisure images. The text reinforces this and gives additional context: beachside, poolside, an emphasis on summer, sunshine, happiness, the weekend, and so on.

In sum…

When deployed carefully, and bearing in mind our top tips, automated Instagram analysis can be a really powerful tool for:

  • Category understanding – a powerful additional lens into the visual language of your sector.
  • Consumer understanding – finding out what implicit needs are represented by the visuals people post – like a large scale projective technique.
  • Brand understanding – measuring what you are transmitting and what it likely means to the recipients.
  • Marketing effectiveness – determining what types of imagery and visual language generate most engagement.
  • Competitor understanding – compare, contrast, and act upon the visual DNA of any and all brands within your category.

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We’ll be writing more on this and other AI related subjects shortly, meanwhile please do get in touch if you found this interesting…

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