7 Tips for Analyzing Your Competition on Instagram

Simon Orgulan
9 min
January 12, 2024

What started out as a simple photo sharing app for regular people has evolved into a goliath where you can find both content of casual nature as well as the one that serves commercial purposes. Combine this with the fact that Instagram now boasts roughly 1 billion users and you’ll quickly realize it can be a massive source of traffic for your business.

With that being said, you’re going to need to invest some serious effort if you’re looking to organically grow Instagram followers – simply showing up and posting a couple of pictures won’t cut it. As with any other entrepreneurial decision you make, it should be based on cold, hard facts you’ve gathered through analysis and research, and Instagram is no different in this regard.

If you want to learn how to organically grow Instagram followers and take your competition head on, you’re going to need to craft a plan of attack; simply winging it may only take you so far to crack this competitive digital space. Instead, why not study what the most successful brands are doing on Instagram and model their success?

Although it’s hard to nail the exact formula that will get you from point A to point B (the intricacies can vary from niche to niche), there are general pointers you can let your Instagram competition teach you; in turn, this will allow you to get more followers.

Excited to learn what these are? Below, we will share with you 7 actionable tips for analyzing your competition on Instagram and using the information gathered to skyrocket your social media marketing campaigns:

1. Check out what kind of content performs best for them

It’s no secret that posting engaging content is how to grow Instagram followers organically. In order to do that, however, you’re going to need to examine your competitors and determine their top performing posts.

The best part about identifying Instagram top posts 2021 and 2022 is that the popular image sharing platform makes it easy for you. In fact, you can measure the engagement their content is getting on a per-post level, so you can get as detailed with your research as you want.

The very basic way to do this without relying on any apps to increase Instagram followers is to simply check the number of likes and comments underneath each post. As you drill down the list, you may see a pattern emerging – make sure to write down the ones that stand out to you.

Then, you can go beyond that by delving into each individual discussion and taking notes on what exactly their followers are saying. For starters, does it have positive or negative undertones? If it’s the latter, what exactly are they complaining about?

For the posts that seem to be performing well for your competition, can you pinpoint the reason why? Is it because of the humor or did the post share valuable tips of some sort? Can its success be attributed to something like a giveaway?

These sorts of posts tend to do well by their very nature simply because of how shareable they are. Given how the winners are randomly picked using an Instagram competition picker, it’s not hard to imagine why.

The bottom line is, analyzing your competition’s top posts on Instagram effectively takes the guesswork out of the equation and helps you improve your overall social media marketing strategy, on Instagram as well as other social media networks.

2. See their follower counts

If you want to grow Instagram followers organically, don’t stumble in the dark or try to guess your way through. The companies and influencers with the highest follower count on Instagram have either carried them over from other social media channels or grew them from scratch by showing up every single day to post the kind of content that makes them excited to receive the notification and come back for more.

As shallow as it may sound, something as plain as the total number of followers an Instagram profile has can be seen as a form of social proof. Even though a human mind often makes a conscious effort to take other things into consideration, that’s the knee-jerk reaction right there when someone is just scrolling through their Instagram feed, not taking more than a glance to evaluate whether someone’s profile is worth visiting or not.

Even so, the follower count is by no means the holy grail that defines someone’s worth. Ask yourself this: would you rather have an Instagram profile with tons of followers but little engagement, or would you rather build a devoted tribe that is small in numbers but huge in “fandom”? Which one do you think would be better for your bottom line? If you guessed the latter, that’s correct!

In other words, when Instagram engagement is down, this will have a negative effect on that brand’s sales. For the purposes of researching your competition on Instagram, however, the number of followers is a good place to start. After all, you want to learn from those that have already made it as opposed to those that are at the starting point of their journey. If nothing else, it’s a time-efficient way to identify the influencers in your niche and spot them in a split second.

3. Measure the rate at which their audience on Instagram is growing

If you’re using an app to increase Instagram followers, tracking how often do Instagram influencers post gets much easier through chronological view. This is a bit more advanced of a measurement compared to simply counting the number of their followers, but the results will be much more accurate as a result.

In other words, we want to identify the “trending growers”. Think of these influencers and brands as those that are utilizing growth strategies that work in the here and the now (as opposed to, say, the ones that worked in the past but not anymore). Do you see the power of doing this?

Remember: the trend is your friend. As social media platforms evolve, their algorithms may start favoring certain kinds of behavior and activities over others. This can be hard to predict, much less to understand. Therefore, reverse engineering what makes these algorithms tick is often the best option a social media marketer has remaining.

To grow instagram followers organically, get comfortable with the idea that you’re going to have to run your own tests from time to time. While this Instagram competition analysis method requires having access to specialized software, it’s far easier to analyze your own posts in the beginning to uncover any emerging patterns or trends. But as you get deeper and deeper into the wonders of social media algorithms, this, too, is an option worth exploring.

4. Measure how engaged their audience is

If you want to analyze your Instagram competition to get more followers, a good metric to check for is how engaged their audience is. Merely glancing at their total number of followers can give you a solid idea who the biggest players in your niche are, whereas it’s by looking at how engaged their followers are to truly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Keep in mind that, if you’re using any third-party apps to increase Instagram followers and analyze what your competition is doing, there may be different ways to refer to “follower engagement”, with “klout” being one example. Don’t get confused – these refer to the same metric.

The idea of doing this is to help you determine what kind of content sits well with your audience rather than who has simply taken the time to post a lot of it. The name of the game is time-efficiency; you want to be sure that whatever content strategy you’re using on Instagram will give you the greatest returns on the time and energy invested. Oftentimes, this means proverbially sharpening your axe before heading over to the forest to chop down some trees.

But what is engagement, exactly? In layman terms, it’s measuring how often your competitors’ audience reacts to their Instagram posts in some form or another, whether it be by sharing, commenting, liking, or any combination of these. What you want to be focusing on during your analysis is not only what influencers are good at engaging their follower base in general, but also what methods and types of posts they use to achieve that goal.

At the end of the day, it’s the engaged followers that count when it comes to conversion. Whether it be having them sign up to your newsletter, purchasing the latest product you’ve released, or any other predetermined action you want them to take, everything is so much easier with an audience that responds to the content you put out.

5. Identify what post formats perform best

In addition to measuring what types of content is the most likely to elicit a response from the users, as a social media marketer, your job is to also be able to identify what post formats are the most likely to help you reach these goals. Instagram offers numerous options in this regard, so when structuring your very own Instagram marketing campaigns, you have the freedom to choose between:

- Basic image posts

- Video posts

- Carousels

Even though the vast majority of your posts are likely to fall into the basic category, it could be that there are certain niche specifics that you need to be taking into account. For instance, even though an Instagram engagement caption tends to be a good way to organically grow Instagram followers in general, this doesn’t mean that it will necessarily perform equally as well across every niche.

As an example, imagine you’re in some kind of a DIY or how-to niche and your followers are looking exclusively for instructional content and guidance. Let’s say you’re trying to teach them how to repair furniture. Although an image-based post format can be helpful if you’re trying to show them a diagram or illustrate something, at some point, it may be that you’re going to need to post a video to show them exactly how they need to approach things.

6. Make a note what hashtags your competitors are using

A proven strategy on how to grow Instagram followers organically is by using relevant hashtags. However, you can’t go blindly with this, as the hashtags you’re going to be using need to be exactly like the ones that are already circulating in the wild. The idea behind this is to mark your posts accordingly and increase their relevance and visibility in Instagram’s search engine.

For obvious reasons, you never want to just copy and paste the hashtags your competitors are using directly. For instance, some of them may be branded hashtags and using them would help you boost their content, which is the last thing you want to do in this competitive market space.

During your research, you may also want to take notes in regard to how many hashtags you should be using per post. To give you a general idea, we’ve written a detailed guide on how to use hashtags across various social media platforms (hint: you should never use the exact same approach across all of them, although certain general pointers apply), so be sure to give it a read.

Another secret weapon in your arsenal is Ocoya. Did you know it uses smart content analysis and recognition to know exactly what your post is about so as to suggest the most appropriate hashtags for it? This way, instead of having to spend hours of your precious time researching what hashtags your competitors are using, the whole process can be as easy as clicking a button.

We’ll show you how. First, open Ocoya’s main page and find the Copywriter section to your left.

Ocoya 3.0's copywriter section

To the top right, you will find the “Pick template” button. Click it.

Pick a template in Ocoya's copywriter section

Keep scrolling down until you see the Hashtag Generator. Open it.

Ocoya 3.0 features a powerful hashtag generator

Here, you will see 3 main areas of interest. The first we’ve highlighted is the brand/product section (simply input the name of your product or brand if relevant). Below, enter a short description or a bit of content you want the hashtags to be generated based on (this is the most important part). Finally, click the green “Generate” button and see the magic happen.

How to properly populate Ocoya's hashtag generator fields

Ocoya will go fetch the most relevant hashtags for you. Find them in the section to the right.

Ocoya's hashtag generator intelligently picks the most relevant hashtags for you

7. Don’t forget to check out your competitors’ followers

When deciding who you should be interacting with to organically grow Instagram followers, the good news is that your competition has likely done the majority of the heavy lifting for you. Instead of trying to discover your potential followers the good old fashioned way through manual research, the task can be as simple as seeing who their followers are and trying to get them interested in your content as well.

Since it’s likely to be similar to theirs (if you’ve followed the steps we’ve outlined above, you should be able to see why), chances are it won’t take that much convincing for them to start following you as well. The trick is to be crafty about it and interject yourself into a conversation they’re having by adding value. If you don’t have the time to do this yourself, consider hiring a social media manager to take some of the work off your plate.

When it comes to marketing on Instagram, don’t be the guy who tries to reinvent the wheel. Instead, take a look at what your competitors are up to and try to replicate what they’re doing by adding your own spin on tactics that are proven to be working. Although there are no guarantees in this game, the consensus among social media marketers is that whatever seems to be working for your competitors is likely to bring you results as well. However, without doing your due diligence, it’s impossible to know!

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