Weekly Wisdom with Mikhail Alfon: Instagram Success, Beyond Likes and Comments

Instagram is the social media app of choice for many brands today, but some are still confused by its features and how to use this platform. Join us as we explore what it means to be successful on Instagram in 2019.

Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to share photos with the world. It’s easy to share your favorite moments, but it can be hard to grow an audience. Here are some tips for Instagram success. Read more in detail here: what is instagram used for.


Transcript has been changed.

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Weekly Wisdom from SEMrush. Mikhail Alfon is my name. I’m the president and co-founder of Blue Light Media in Costa Mesa, California, and today we’re going to speak about how to measure your Instagram content’s effect beyond likes and comments. 

What we’ve noticed is that no matter how big a brand is, they still rely on likes and comments to determine whether or not their content is actually resonating with their audience. The truth is, there are a lot of other metrics available on Instagram today if you have a business profile, such as impressions, shares, and saves.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s episode, and I hope you like it.

Metrics for Business Pages

Multiple metrics are accessible on Instagram business pages, and it’s important to note that they’re only available on company pages; if you’re operating a personal page right now, you won’t be able to view them. Of course, we can see the likes and comments, and we can also view shares if we swipe up or click insights on a specific article. You can also see how many people have saved the article, and if you swipe up one more time, you can see how many impressions you have received.


Pages of the Creators

Now, with the new Pages of the Creators that were just released, you can also see some deeper audience insights like how many people have followed and unfollowed you in a certain span of time.


Unfortunately, there isn’t much context to the data right now. It doesn’t provide details such as how long someone followed you before unfollowing you. As a result, we believe it is mostly ineffective. Today, though, we’re going to concentrate on impressions, shares, and saves.

The impression split is one of the metrics we want to look at, so if you swipe up on your content after clicking insights, you can see how many impressions a piece of content is receiving in various categories. “In feed,” “home,” “other,” and “hashtags” are among the options. And hashtags are really what we want to focus on today because a lot of people ignore hashtag strategy, but we’ve discovered that it’s really incredibly crucial and can help you dramatically enhance your organic reach.

Today’s Hashtag Effectiveness

One of the topics we’d like to discuss is determining the usefulness of hashtags. Hashtags may be a highly effective strategy for ensuring that your material is viewed by more people than simply those who are following you. Now, if you click insights and swipe up, you could find that your hashtags aren’t receiving a lot of reach or impressions.

1636652283_963_Weekly-Wisdom-with-Mikhail-Alfon-Instagram-Success-Beyond-Likes-andInstagram Hashtag Reach

This could indicate that it’s time to break up and create a new set of hashtags because Instagram may believe you’re spamming or attacking a specific category, but it could also indicate that your content doesn’t match the hashtags you’ve chosen.

Now, instead of simply the individuals that view your feed, you should constantly want to have more people notice you using hashtags. As you may be aware, Instagram’s algorithm prevents you from being seen by everyone who follows you at the same time unless they routinely engage with you. Using the right hashtags can help you stand out from the crowd and be viewed by more people on a regular basis.

Tips for Using Hashtags to Increase Reach and Engagement

Before we move on from hashtags, I’d want to leave you with a few hashtag tips that can help you expand your reach and Engagement. Of course, you should use 20 to 30 hashtags every post, which I realize appears excessive, but if you’re concerned about the aesthetics of your captions, simply put it in the first remark.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, hashtags in the initial remark work better than those in the captions. That is, of course, as of today. It’s possible that things will change in the future. Now you need to make sure you’re employing hashtags and hashtag groups on a regular basis. The reason for this is that if we use the same hashtags for your content on a regular basis, Instagram may believe you’re trying to spam that category, lowering the number of people who see your posts in that category.

Indeed, as we briefly indicated previously, you may not be indexed in hashtags at all. You should also add hashtags that are related to your post, such as #foodphotography or #outfitoftheday if you’re uploading photographs of food. If your post doesn’t exactly fit what you’re putting it under, just because those hashtags are receiving a lot of activity doesn’t imply you’ll receive the same amount of Engagement.

Hashtags to Use – Not the Ones You Think 

We also want to utilize hashtags that have 50,000 to 250,000 posts linked with them, and of course, you may go up and down a little bit. The rationale for this is because we feel that if you stay within that range, you have a higher chance of getting noticed than if you use a hashtag that has two million posts linked with it. That implies that if there are too many people using it, you’re less likely to keep up with the most current postings and give your material a chance to be viewed, right?

Now, with that stated, choose one or two that have a million or two million postings. There’s a possibility you’ll become viral. Last but not least, when it comes to hashtags, you want to make sure you’re using ones that people will really use, right? So, even if there are a lot of postings, you don’t want to use hashtags that are branded, but you do want to use hashtags that you know people will be searching up every day.

The ones that have to do with inspiring quotes or motivating memes, or anything like that, are the easiest for us to point out right now. These are the kinds of hashtags that people could be interested in. Of course, folks may follow vegan cuisine, regular exercises, and other such regimens. So there are things that people will follow on a daily basis, and you can see that when searching for hashtags, which will allow you to be seen more frequently and reach a wider audience with each tag you use.

Shares and Downloads

The next metric we want to talk about, or metrics that we want to talk about, are the Shares and Downloads, and although you might not be able to see that on its surface, it is still a very important way to measure the impact of your content. We have noticed that as Instagram kind of grows and more people are on the platform, people become more picky about what they are liking, about what they are following. It becomes a lot more difficult to create Engagement that is public on the platform, so people are reverting to saves and they are reverting to shares to show that they actually care about a piece of content.

We are particularly interested in saves since it indicates that users are returning to that information in the future.

We’ve noticed a strong link between saves and shares and organic reach, which makes sense because there’s more interaction with that content, and even though it’s not public, Instagram will likely pick up on the fact that it’s resonating with a specific audience and want to push it up in more feeds.

We also found that shares specifically will actually drive more content to your actual page than the actual content, and that makes a lot of sense. When somebody actually shares a piece of content, it is going to their Instagram story, and anybody else that views that story might click on the post and thus take you back to the profile page. Again, it is actually really important to shoot for more Shares and Downloads, and you can actually shape your content in a way to create this more often.

What are your goals for creating and publishing content?

That’s all right. Let’s have a look at some things to think about while developing and distributing content. First and foremost, what do you want your content to accomplish? You should begin creating your content based on whether you want it to be shared more frequently, if you want to create Engagement in the captions, or if you want to save it.

Each piece of content will do something unique. For example, an inspiring meme of any kind, or even a hilarious meme, has a higher probability of being shared than a picture of yourself or a product.

When you publish material that features an image of a product or a person, it is unlikely to be shared as often as a quotation of some kind.

Consider that not every material is worthy of a remark, so if you want to use comments to gauge how effective your content is, make sure you’re utilizing things like subtitles that entice people to read and create dialogue, or a picture that would entice someone to ask a question or anything similar.

1636652286_562_Weekly-Wisdom-with-Mikhail-Alfon-Instagram-Success-Beyond-Likes-andMake Instagram captions that get people talking.

Sometimes people will simply like and save something without ever leaving a comment. In fact, we’ve seen content with hundreds of shares and saves but only two or three comments, which is very common, especially when there’s no reason to talk about it at all. 

Is your material, as we previously said, genuinely shareable?

I’ve suggested several wonderful methods for people who don’t necessarily follow you to view your material, but as we’ve discussed previously, memes, quotations, and other similar content will likely receive more shares than a snapshot of items.

Now, keep in mind that if you do produce a video that you want to share, you should probably put it in meme style or something similar to a quote card format, since when it’s shared, the video only plays on Instagram stories, not on Instagram posts. 

Extra Instagram Advice

As you can see, there are a variety of techniques to assess the effect of your post that go beyond likes and comments. So it’s critical to realize that there are several measures that will truly appear, such as whether or not our material is functioning at all. So, we’ve got a couple of last recommendations for you, and I’m going to read them off this piece of paper since there’s a lot of them.

Is it Better to Brand or Not to Brand?

If you want to increase the number of people who share your material, one thing you should think about is using light branding. We’ve discovered that the more branding on a piece of information, the less likely it is to be shared. So what I’ve done is take Tweets that I used to simply publish as a meme, just to save time, and see how well they work for a lot of people in my category. I was entirely removing my name and picture from it, and it was being shared a lot more.

We’ve observed it on many pieces of content for various companies with whom we collaborate. The smaller the logos are and the lighter the branding is, the more likely they will be shared on Instagram stories.

Captions with a Longer Length

We also found that Captions with a Longer Length actually get indexed really, really well on Instagram. So what we mean by long form is those microblogs. You will see a lot of people that are actually using Captions with a Longer Length.

1636652289_841_Weekly-Wisdom-with-Mikhail-Alfon-Instagram-Success-Beyond-Likes-andVisual of what Captions with a Longer Length look like on Instagram

They might be Instagram influencers, or it might be a product that is explaining a little bit more about that brand’s mission. Now, the great thing about this is Captions with a Longer Length actually seem to spark more conversation than just a short form one, right? So consider using these if you do actually want to start a conversation in the comments, and start engaging with your audience that way. 


Although videos are preferred on Instagram Discovery and are a great way to drive new traffic to your page, always make sure your video has a great thumbnail. The reason for this is because, as previously said, if it is shared, the video will not play. So you want to make sure that when it’s shared on social media, it’s crystal clear what you’re trying to say in that video.

Don’t Tweet This: Tips on Promoting a Post

I really hope Instagram doesn’t notice this, because we’ve noticed a strong link between promoting an Instagram post through Instagram, such as with Instagram ads, and a decrease in organic reach. To clarify, we’ve discovered that if someone uses Instagram’s promote tool, their organic reach will be reduced in the future, and our assumption is that they want you to keep utilizing the service.

So, if you want to utilize Instagram advertisements, we suggest going to your Facebook ads manager and creating the ad there instead than fiddling with your real profile. Of course, we don’t have a lot of evidence to back this up, but everyone is saying it. We’ve observed it ourselves, so there’s a chance it’s true. 


Finally, with each post, aim for a high level of engagement. We’ve all noticed that the more interactions a piece of content receives, the more reach it receives in each of the impression categories, right? Which clearly makes a lot more sense, and we know that this is fairly common information today, but we’ve also noticed that many marketers are just milling in their material, utilizing a lovely image without really attempting to create any type of debate. The more we do this, the more we help to strengthen the brand’s identity while also expanding its reach, bringing more people and eyes to your profile. 

This edition of Weekly Wisdom, provided to you by SEMrush, comes to a close.

We really hope you appreciated and found this information beneficial; remember, whatever you do, put your passion into it, and we’ll see you next time.

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