Instagram Analytics

Instagram shady business practice

Instagram icon

Any business today, has to engage with its customer on social media platforms to stay relevant. It's easy to create an account and post pictures of your business, food, art, decor, menu.... To engage with an audience, you need to appropriately tag your post with relevant hashtags. Simple enough, but are you reaching your audience and how do you measure your efforts?

Most other platforms have an analytics tool to view metrics and data. Instagram requires a business account to get access to the analytics. Sounds reasonable and a google search will give you the basic steps to switch a personal account to a business account. Completely reasonable, as you may have started promoting your business with a personal account and realized that it makes sense to separate the personal and business identity.

Going through the Instagram help pages, we soon realized that the features and functions were not available on the web page. We tried using the workaround for posting from a desktop and clearly the functions and features were only available in the mobile app. This seems deliberate and intentional, in our opinion. 

We value privacy and security and would never install Facebook or Instagram on our mobile device. Fortunately, we had a spare old mobile phone available. After a factory reset and  login on with a fresh Gmail address (not linked to our personal Gmail) - you need this to install Instagram from the play store (a whole separate topic) - I know many hoops to jump through. Finally logged into Instagram and voila - the options were available to switch to a business account.

Refreshed, logout and login from web interface, still no analytics data available. More web research and turns out that the analytics is only available through the mobile app. Hmmmm. During the research process, a number of third party providers pop up and promise to sell services to get access to the analytics on the web, however now you have to give them your login/pass for them to do the api call to get the data, so that they can present it to you. Really... Well, understandable, they have seen the gap and provide a service to the end consumer for whom this is too complicated.

The whole process seems to be deliberately designed to force a user to use the mobile app, which can (with permission), gather more data (see permission list below for Android)

This app has access to:
Wi-Fi connection information
  • view Wi-Fi connections
Device & app history
  • retrieve running apps
  • record audio
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your own contact card
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • find accounts on the device
  • read your contacts
  • directly call phone numbers
  • read phone status and identity
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Device ID & call information
  • read phone status and identity
  • receive text messages (SMS)
  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • take pictures and videos
  • receive data from Internet
  • read frame buffer
  • change screen orientation
  • run at startup
  • uninstall shortcuts
  • read battery statistics
  • prevent device from sleeping
  • access Bluetooth settings
  • control vibration
  • install shortcuts
  • pair with Bluetooth devices
  • view network connections
  • connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
  • use accounts on the device
  • full network access
  • change your audio settings

Consumers need to be aware of what they are giving up and actively opt-out. This means choosing not to install the app on their mobile phone or choosing not to use an app - period. Some of these permission and access requirements are justified for the app to function, however we all have a choice. 

While this post is specific to Instagram, there are many other apps that are mining our data. We and our data are the product.

Analytics data will take a few days to populate. This post is still a work in progress and will be updated with results and findings.