Improve Instagram Story Engagement Using These Secret Stats

Recently, the rise of the Instagram story has become a helpful tool for influencers and publishers on the popular photo-sharing platform to grow their following and engage their followers. However, the reach of an accounts story really depends on its engagement (for individual stories and historical records of previous engagements on that account).

So how do you optimize around these metrics if Instagram isn’t sharing them?

instagram stories

What Engagement Matters To Instagram?

Instagram is constantly adding new updates, one of which was introduced in 2016: the business profile and analytics tools.

However, many influencers have been hesitant to switch their successful personal account to a business account, and with good reason. Those with a short memory remember that Facebook’s business policy changes influenced many Facebook page’s reaches — and since Instagram is owned by Facebook — it is likely/possible that a similar alteration could occur on Instagram.

increase instagram story engagement

Though changes to Instagram business policies could affect account reach, the business account features do offer some benefits that personal accounts do not. The business profile provides much deeper insight into how users are interacting with your account beyond just likes, comments, and followers. With a business profile, there is more segmented data on traffic, engagement, stories, and followers.

These metrics give us some insight into what Instagram is telling businesses is most important for them to optimize around (to increase promoted post reach and cost). It’s extremely likely these are the same metrics that affect the reach of organic stories and posts.

Hacking Business Profile Stats To Increase Engagement

The good news is you don’t need a business profile to successfully measure your posts and stories; through a little organization on your part, many of these metrics — only accessible to business profile users — are easily trackable, and you can make informed decisions about the content of your Instagram account without switching to business mode.

There are two segmentations available through a business profile that give you deeper insight into how your profile, posts, and stories are doing.

Interactions provide you with how many users visited your profile as a result of your post, clicked on your website in your profile heading, and tapped on any stickers in your story. Below Interactions is a section called Discovery, which includes Impressions, Follows, and Navigation behavior within the Instagram stories, the latter of which is the most important item to study and will be discussed in further detail below.

instagram story reach

Overview of Instagram Engagement Metrics:


The number of times a photo or video was seen in your story.


The number of accounts that saw a photo or video in your story.


The number of replies to this photo or video in your story.

Link Opens

The number of times this link was opened.

increase instagram story reach

Instagram Story Navigation Metrics Are Important

Navigation is of the highest priority for optimizing your stories because it breaks down information about how audiences and have interacted with your story and provides important data as to if users are interacting with or leaving your story. Navigation is broken into four categories: Forward, Back, Exited, and Next Story.


The number of taps to see the next photo or video in your story.


The number of taps to see the previous photo or video in your story.


The number of taps to leave your story.

Next Story

The number of taps to the next account’s story.

Optimizing Engagement On These Instagram Metrics

Instagram provides many tools to make stories more interesting and encourage audiences to interact. There is a sliding response, ask-a-question, and customizable polls. Polls and questions are especially effective ways to have users engage with your story because some people will return to see the results of the poll or answers to questions.

Additionally, it’s not enough to just post pictures of something you like or found interesting–Instagram stories are, after all, a story, and it is up to you to tell that story well.

Engagement with your story is key to people returning to your profile and excited to see what the next ‘chapter’ of your story is.

Stories can be pictures or videos, but it is important to note that by default, most Instagram users don’t have their sound on.

This means if there is no context of what is being said or heard in a video, users are likely to move onto the next part of your story or onto the next account’s story. Adding a bit of text or a poll can encourage users to still interact with your video even if they have the sound muted.

If you don’t want to add items on top of your video, it is still a good idea to have the next part of your story follow up with some sort of context about the video’s content.

Features That Help With Engagement

Instagram has a few other features that can spruce up your story and even direct new followers your way.

You can add a location, which will then have your story appear in the search results of that location for users everywhere (see our previous post on 5 Ways to Build Your Instagram Following), a day of the week or temperature, or a whole slew of GIF stickers.

These small features give people a little context about the story and can take a photo from average to entertaining: Is it a Monday? Is it 99°F and you feel like you’re dying? Did you add a dancing banana GIF to emphasize how much fun you’re having?

Calculating Your Instagram Story Engagement

While more specific details like Forward, Back, Exited, and Next Story is not available without a business profile, you can still track how well your story is doing by observing how many people viewed your story — divided by your total following.

At the end of the story’s 24-hour window, note how many users viewed your story. Then compare that number divided by your followers by similar days of the week and times that the story was posted. This will provide some insight into how Instagram distributed the story to your followers based on the metrics above (exits, forwards, etc.).

If you post content and the number increases, then you’ve found a good trend to keep building on. If the number decreases, consider what may have made it less successful. Use this data to make a trend line of which stories are giving you the highest number of views and start making a strategy.

You can calculate your relative reach by diving the number of users by the number of followers you have. For easy math’s sake, if your story received 500 views and you have 1,000 account followers, then your reach would be 50%. Most reach percentages are in the single-digits, but knowing your reach percentage provides you with an idea of how well your content is doing and gives you a starting point for higher reach goals.

Instagram Business has its pros and cons, but its unpredictable future makes it a risk that may not be worth taking. Noting what data Instagram deems valuable in the business profile feature, and then finding ways to track it through a personal profile, is a safe way to keep up with your stats and Instagram trends without ever committing to a business account.

Knowing that Instagram values and captures these metrics gives us a little insight into what might be most important for them in evaluating what accounts are popular with users.

HINT: You want to be one of these accounts 😉

Questions, comments? Leave them below.