Quick, Simple Instagram Hashtag Analytics Research: What I Found

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I’d been hearing about these DataStudio Community Connectors that can give marketers a way to transfer their Facebook Ads, Insights, Twitter, Amazon, even Instagram data engines. I’m fascinated by the concept of being able to analyze public social media data and decided to check out one of them to see how they would help me visualize Instagram data in DataStudio. It’s still a work in progress but I thought I’d try out a quick hashtag query (or seven or eight) and see what I could see. I have to say I’m both excited and a little disappointed, though.

First off, I think it’s only fair to say that the connector I used stated that it’s got its limitations up front. Kudos to them for that. But some of the functionality, I thought, showed that they may not have taken the whole “interface experience” point to heart.

The connector was also a bit glitchy as I could run a full report one minute and the next, I got a configuration error, despite having the same information in place. Another problem was that I could only run a query for 3 Instagram user accounts at a time. Not-so-great if you’re looking at about 15 users PLUS the glitchy part that whittled me down to two accounts at a time

Plus, as far as DataStudio, sure, I could create tables and bar charts from the information but it wasn’t as meaningful as I needed it to be and had to wind up exporting the CSV so that I could take a better look  and manipulate the information just a bit more in Excel.

I hold on to the fact that the connector gathered information that would have been impossible for me to find on my own. PLUS, after having a chat with someone at support, I understand that they are coming out with an updated version this Spring, which I hope will be a lot better. I look forward to checking it out because, to date, these are the ONLY guys doing this with Instagram so far and my hope is that they get better at it. I like Instagram and I think, over time, it will be an even bigger powerhouse than its parent company, provided it doesn’t lose its soul.

So here’s what I did: I’m an independent author and have some evergreen hashtags I use to get eyes on my posts. I wanted to know who else used them, and the level of engagement they experience.

This little experiment comes with a few caveats:

  1. Hardly anyone uses just one hashtag. So, while I queried posts that contain the hashtag, I can’t say that this hashtag resulted in x likes or comments. It’s not that refined and may never be.
  2. There are some people, myself included, who opt to put our hashtags in the first comment. The good thing about this connector is that it picks up the post with the hashtag regardless of whether it’s in the comments or not. The annoying thing is that you won’t get the hashtags listed if they’re in the comments. There was some copy/paste work to be done.
  3. The dates on these are questionable. I did get some data from 2017 and even 2016 in one report. In another, I’m only able to look at early February 2018 when I know that those hashtags were in use long before then.
  4. The lines of information are limited to 100, which is fine but it in some cases, if I needed to access (or could access) data from last year or 2016, 100 lines wouldn’t be enough. But for this, it was fine.
  5. The dates of the top 10 are from February 2018

With these in mind, here’s my very informal hashtag analysis.

I decided to check out just who’s been using the hashtags #indiebooks and #indiewriters and wanted to perhaps see what other hashtags they were used with, who got likes and comments. That was how I started, at least. It turns out that my question leaned more towards engagement than finding out which hashtags were used.

Follower vs. Likes

As I couldn’t really combine follower count and post likes/comments in DataStudio (different queries that could not be combined no matter how much I tried), I had to do a separate report after I isolated the top 10 likes and comments for each hashtag. If it sounds like a bit of work, it is. What I saw made me chuckle a bit.

Scatter graph - IG followers v Likes

This is a scatter of #indiebooks top 10 likes in the 100 posts I was able to grab for this query

Despite the paid services that pitch the story of paying to get you more followers because the more followers you get the more likes and comments you’ll have, I didn’t see a correlation between the number of followers and engagement.  In fact, the 21 likes seen for that post was for a user who had only 35 followers. While the user with 295 followers, had 14 likes for that post.

Granted, this is just one or two examples, PLUS I’m talking about specific posts for a specific hashtag,…there are plenty of caveats to throw in here. But this scatter graph, if anything, is the first step in declaring that the myth of “you increase your followers, you increase your likes” is questionable. If anything, this shows that there are other factors that come into achieving engagement and that if you have fewer followers, you have a chance for achieving stronger engagement, provided you take the actions needed to promote engagement.

Likes vs. Comments

I understand that when it comes to engagement, ‘Likes’ are a very light touch that don’t require as much commitment as comments. With that in mind, I do value comments a lot more. However, I think I had always associated more likes with more comments, for some reason. Turns out that’s a non-starter as well.

#IndieBooks Likes vs Comments | SmarketryBlog.com #IndieWriters Likes vs Comments - SmarketryBlog.com


Of course, post likes and comments depend on many factors, such as context, visual, and other factors but still, this is the beginning of debunking a myth for me and I would definitely like to explore it a bit more. But for now, as it stands, there’s not much of a correlation between “more likes = more comments” either.

Again, this was a pretty informal observation considering my objective was to test an application. These hashtags are useful in attracting engagement but there’s no way of really knowing how many likes and comments each attracts.

Instagrammers to Note:

If you’re going to be a great instagrammer, you’ve got to really put in the effort. That means great content and engagement with commenters. In looking at the different posts and users who had the most comments and likes for each hashtags, I found some great profiles I had to call out!


@jessica.ruben.books: 1,577+ followers, 192+ posts, First post 10/1/2017

– When it came to the list for top 10 likes and comments, this instagrammer’s name kept popping up. I had to check her out. To get to almost 1,600 followers and it’s mid-February is a feat. I can see why.
Wall of instagrammer @jessica.ruben.books She’s really taken great care to speak to books and food, (particularly cakes), and all different kinds of artistry but her central theme is books, which she stages beautifully. Jessica has her own books coming out in summer 2018 and hails from New York. Her first post got a few likes and from what I see, she posts once to twice a day. But as time went on, her likes grew and so did her comments and she interacted with them all. That’s a winning strategy. Great content, Great interaction.


@jemimakhalli_ 2,465+ followers, 60+ posts, First post 9/10/2017 

Profile of Instagrammer @jemimakhalli_Another New York indie writer and author who’s got a very soulful, artistic wall. Her technique is to alternate her rows between words and pictures, which you can tell take a lot of planning. Again, there are many ways to do your wall and this is just a really neat view that’s worth checking out.

She also interacts with most commenters and over time, that number has grown.






Honorable Mention: @icarus_writes 256+ followers, 90+ posts, First post 1/1/2018 

Profile of Instagrammer @icarus_writesI wanted to put this as an honorable mention because this was a profile that kept popping up quite a few times in the list.  The posts don’t get a lot of comments, but the likes are racking up. The comments Icarus gets show resonance with his audience. The wall is pretty consistently solid, as the posts are “pieces of my soul put into words,” which is an eye-catching profile summary and effectively compelling.









@angelineandtheworld 354+ followers, 525+ posts, First post 8/20/2017 

@angelineandtheworld Instagram profile shot

A UK-based indie scifi/fantasy author whose profile is all about getting a glimpse into her life and the worlds she builds. She’s also sharing selfies as well as a taste of her actual life. This profile has a definitely personal feel to it, an element of trust that I think will help her really attract quality followers and interactions, even though they may @angelineandtheworld post about distraction- Got a good number of likesnot be high in number. In fact one of the posts that got a lot of likes and interaction deals with something all writers have to tackle. Irony doesn’t begin to describe it.






@bookmanorange 608+ followers, 1,126+ posts, First post 5/8/2016 

@bookmanorange Instagram profile - Smarketryblog.comI have to say, this was one of the most fun and funniest profiles I have visited. Since coming onto instagram a couple of years ago (to claps and declarations of FINALLY) this used, rare and out-of-print bookstore found it’s stride and has been doing some great stuff ever since. The owner of the business is obviously not shy and does a great job of staging the books. He even pulls in staff to do it.

@bookmanorange post about a 70-year old book

One of the posts that got a good number of likes was this one about a now 70 year old book. If you’re looking for a smile and to support small, independent bookstores, it’s Bookman is worth checking out for sure.






For these two hashtags, I’m hoping to dig a little deeper, or at least as deep as the application will permit to see what I can see. As far as the independent author space, there’s a lot to discover but what I’ve observed so far is that in a virtual world, posts of staged real books really get a lot of engagement. We may have kindles and nooks and iPads, but a well put-together photo of a book can get lots of hearts. I’ll definitely be checking out a couple of other sectors and reporting what I may find. What I do know is there is value here. Let’s see what else I can come up with.



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