Wondering how to get advanced data from Instagram Insights? Want to see side-by-side performance metrics for reel vs. reel or story vs. carousel?
In this article, you’ll learn how to use Instagram Insights to compare your content analytics to reveal which type of content performed best.
How Comparative Metrics Improve Your Instagram Content
On Instagram in particular, it’s relatively easy to find your top-performing content. All you have to do is open your account’s professional dashboard and tap to view all of the content you’ve published over the past week, month, or other preset timeframe.
The Instagram Insights dashboard automatically sorts your content by the metric you select. For example, you can sort all content (Instagram posts, reels, lives, and stories) by a few common metrics like shares or accounts reached.
If you opt to view insights for just one type of content (i.e., posts, reels, or stories), you get more options for metrics. Tap the Metrics menu to choose from placement-specific metrics like plays, reels interactions, profile visits, and more.
There’s no question that using the workflow above to identify and analyze your best content can help you find what works for your brand and your audience. But analyzing individual pieces of content can only get you so far since countless factors could contribute to their success.
To find your top-performing content and understand why it works so well, questions like these are more helpful:
- How much did your best reel outperform your second-best reel?
- How do your posts measure up to your reels?
- What’s the ideal length for your reels?
- Should you publish more carousel posts?
- Is it really worth publishing that many stories, or should you double-down on another type of content instead?
With comparative Instagram analytics, you can answer these questions much more efficiently. Then you can use your findings to make data-driven decisions about improving your Instagram content and making progress toward key marketing goals.
How to Use Instagram’s Comparative Content Analytics
Instagram’s Comparative Analytics tool lets you review two pieces of content. Since the app displays metrics for the two pieces of content side by side, you can easily see how and where some content stood out and where some fell short.
#1: Access Comparative Analytics in the Instagram App
To access comparative content analytics in the Instagram app, go to the profile for your business account and open your account’s professional dashboard. Tap to view your account insights, and then select the timeframe you want to analyze. You can either choose a preset timeframe or pick custom dates from the drop-down menu.
Then scroll down and tap the Compare Your Content button at the very bottom of the Insights dashboard. Tap to select any two pieces of content you want to compare.
Note that the app automatically displays content from the timeframe you selected and sorts it by accounts reached. You can change the timeframe and the sorting metric by configuring the settings in the menu bar at the top of the dashboard.
#2: Compare Similar Pieces of Content
First, let’s compare two similar pieces of content. For this example, I selected two stories on opposite ends of the reach spectrum for this timeframe—one with high reach and one with low reach. Here’s what we can compare:
Compare Post Timing
Why compare timing? It’s easy to assume that good content will get the reach and engagement it deserves, no matter when it goes live. But publishing at the ideal time for your audience can help good content get engagement right away, which can boost your results and increase reach.
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In this case, both of the stories were published around the same time (4:00 to 4:30 a.m. PT), so that’s not a factor. But they went live on different days of the week (Friday and Tuesday), which could affect performance.
With multiple comparative analyses over time, you can gain a better understanding of the timing that works best for your audience. To find peak and off-peak times quickly, you can also check the audience metrics for your Instagram account.
Compare Post Reach
Why compare reach? Although reach probably isn’t the end goal for your content, it helps measure visibility and overall success. Content with low reach was under-delivered by Instagram, likely for a discernible reason.
In this case, the story on the left had 3x higher reach. Why? Engagement is almost certainly a contributing factor, which we’ll explore below. But it’s also important to compare the topics and styles of the two pieces of content.
For example, are you posting about topics that you know your audience likes or are trending on Instagram? And are you making it clear to Instagram that your content touches on these topics?
When you tell Instagram what your content is about, you can increase the chance that the platform will deliver your content to an interested audience. For example, in-app features like text overlays, video captions, Reels topics, post descriptions, and hashtags can all add context to your content and help maximize reach.
From the Compare Insights panel, you can tap to view both pieces of content. Then you can make note of the topics each one covers and the styles each uses to build your understanding of what works for your audience.
Note that Instagram’s Comparative Analytics dashboard also breaks down reach by followers and non-followers. For stories, you can typically expect most reach to come from followers. But it’s helpful to compare non-follower reach for posts, lives, and reels (pictured above) to identify what kind of content helps you grow your audience.
Compare Post Engagement
Why compare engagement? Like reach, engagement probably isn’t the end goal for your content. Yet engagement is a key ranking signal for the Instagram algorithm, which means more interactions can increase reach and amplify content. Engagement can also confirm whether your content resonates with your audience and how they feel about it.
Instagram’s Comparative Analytics dashboard displays a little differently depending on the content type you choose. If you compare stories (pictured below), you can see the total number of accounts engaged, including a followers versus non-followers breakdown. This overview section is great for providing a high-level comparison.
But the Content Interactions section is better for comparing types of engagement. Just note that for stories, the Comparative Analytics dashboard displays replies and reactions only. If your story used interactive stickers for polls, a website link, and other engagement (like in the examples above), you have to compare those metrics manually.
When you compare reels and posts, you can’t see an engagement overview. But you can see an in-depth engagement breakdown to help you understand how people interacted with your content—from likes and comments to saves and shares.
No matter what type of content you analyze, it’s helpful to compare engagement to reach. In the example above, the reel on the left achieved almost 20% more plays. Yet the reel on the right generated more engagement. So which performed better? That depends on the goal. So in this case, the reel with the higher engagement rate performed better.
Compare Profile Activity
Why measure profile activity? This option is especially valuable because profile activity metrics can give you a sense of the actions people took after viewing your content. In other words, it’s crucial to compare these metrics if you want to grow your following or drive traffic to your website.
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In the example below, the post on the left drove far more profile visits and website taps. However, the post on the right had more comments. If I’d looked at post engagement metrics only, it would have been easy to declare the post on the right as the winner. But because website traffic was the ultimate goal, the post on the left is the top performer.
Which factors contributed to all of those profile visits and website traffic? It’s worth tapping to view each post or story and comparing the captions, messaging, calls to action, and offers.
Note that Instagram doesn’t offer these comparative analytics for Reels. To compare profile activity analytics, make sure to select Stories (pictured below) or posts.
#3: Compare Two Different Formats
When you compare two reels, posts, stories, or lives, you can gain insight into ways to improve each content type. But what if you want to know which type of content creates more value for your brand so you know which to prioritize?
Instagram’s Comparative Analytics tool also lets you measure different types of content against each other so you can make more informed decisions when shaping your content plan. For example, you can compare a reel against a post (pictured below).
Since the Comparative Analytics dashboard displays the top metric in bold, you can easily see where one content type shines and where it falls short. In the example above, the reel (left) had slightly higher reach. However, more followers saw the post (right). Very few non-followers saw the post.
From this comparison, it’s easy to see that the reel did a much better job of reaching non-followers. So if your goal was expanding your audience or boosting brand awareness among non-followers, reels might be a smart choice. It would be worth comparing more reels and posts against each other to confirm, and then adjusting your content plan.
It’s also helpful to compare engagement metrics between content to see what works best. In the example above, comments and saves were the same between the post and the reel. However, the post (right) generated far more likes and shares, which may indicate that the content resonated more with followers.
#4: Compare Static vs. Ephemeral Content
Measuring stories against reels or posts is like comparing apples to oranges. Since static and ephemeral content have different capabilities and serve different goals, it’s difficult to compare them directly. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compare them.
In fact, comparing these different content types can help you pinpoint what each one does better than the others. Then you can get a clearer view of when to use stories versus reels or posts so your content can work smarter rather than harder.
The example below compares the same creative published to Stories and the Instagram feed. It’s easy to see that the post (right) had significantly higher reach overall and that it even reached a few people who didn’t follow the account.
The engagement metrics comparison shows similar results. The post generated far more engagement and shares. But keep in mind this dashboard only considers replies, reactions, and shares when calculating story engagement.
The post also generated far more profile visits and website taps. But once again, the dashboard doesn’t factor in link stickers, which this story included.
If your goal is website traffic, it’s a good idea to check the analytics for the individual story. In this case, the story prompted eight link clicks, making it the top performer for website traffic.
To confirm that stories are always the top traffic driver, I’d recommend comparing more content over the course of the week or month. I’d also recommend using Google Analytics to take a closer look at traffic attributed to Instagram Stories and gauge whether visitors convert after landing on the website.
To get maximum value from this comparative dashboard, it’s important to focus on your goals. Make sure to identify goals (i.e., website traffic) beforehand to avoid getting distracted by irrelevant metrics.
#4: Compare Content Over Time
In addition to comparing individual pieces of content against each other, it’s helpful to measure their impact over time. Taking this step is especially important as you adjust your content strategy.
Instagram automatically compares results over time on the main insights dashboard. In the Overview section, you can see how many accounts you reached, how many accounts you engaged, and how many followers you gained.
The percentage below the total tally compares performance during the current period to the previous period. Make sure to use the drop-down menu at the top of the dashboard to select the timeframe you want to compare. Note that you can only see comparative metrics when you select a preset (not custom) timeframe.
Although the Overview dashboard doesn’t compare profile activity or link clicks, you can find this data when you explore further. To dive deeper into the data, tap to view the reach, engagement, or audience metrics.
On the Reach tab, you can compare reach over time and see how your followers versus non-followers reach has changed. If you’re aiming to reach more people outside of your audience, this comparison is especially valuable.
The Reach tab also shows comparative analytics for profile activity. Here, you can see whether you’re successfully driving more profile visits, link in bio taps, email button taps, and call taps.
On the Engagement tab, you can see whether you successfully prompted non-followers to engage with your content. The dashboard automatically compares non-follower activity between the current and previous periods.
This tab also displays comparative analytics for each content type. That way, you can see how your post engagement progressed and whether your reels engagement improved. Note that the Engagement tab doesn’t provide comparative analytics for Stories.
With Instagram’s Comparative Analytics tool, you can easily measure multiple metrics against each other and better identify top-performing content. Using these insights, you can make data-driven decisions and progress toward key marketing goals.
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