How to study your Instagram audience without using insights

Building a following on any social platform takes effort. It's not only about creating content that resonates with your audience, more importantly, but it's also about understanding what they like to view on their social feed.

You are not going to satisfy everyone.

If you are creating content for your entire audience, you will always fail. There is no way I will please every person who follows @BlackWifeLife on Instagram; not every piece of content is for everyone. It's not possible. But what I can do is please the audience in groups.

Here's what I mean...

Over 102,000 people follow @BlackWifeLife. There is a variety of personalities and interests. At times, I think about how often I please a certain group within the community.

This is how I do it

I ask myself four questions when I want to study my audience:

  1. What do they react to?

  2. What gets them to comment?

  3. What do they look at besides my content?

  4. How do they show up online?

Let's break these four questions down.


1. What do they react to?

What gets your audience in an uproar, good or bad?

Do they like a certain type of esthetic style imagery, or are they totally digging your carousel tips post?

What makes all the girls (and boys) run to the yard, aka your Insta?

🗣 ALEXA play Milkshake by Kelis

What are they sharing to their own story or sending to a friend?

These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself when studying your audience. But don't get caught up in whatever brings the most people to the yard (I'm going to keep this analogy up).

Remember, there are still people who follow you, make sure you are providing them with content.

2. What gets them to comment?

Comments have three sides—reactions, conversations, and tagging.

What shows up on your profile the most?

Reaction comments — how content makes a person feel; good, bad, or indifferent.

Conversation comments — back and forth between two or more. One person is reacting, which triggers another to follow up on their comment. You (the owner of the account) also have the power to turn every comment into a conversation. Are you doing this?

Tagging — signaling someone to "come here." This translates into, "your content is so bomb that I want someone else to see it.'“

So I ask again, what shows up the most on your profile?

You need content that is going to yield responses at least 60% of the time. If you share content that gets no traction in the comments, this calls for re-evaluation.

Note: Most coaches will say delete content that doesn’t perform well. I don’t do this. I leave it and then figure out how to do better next time.

3. What do they look at besides your content?

This question can be hard to answer since we have been without the "what your followers" liked page. Whew, that has been gone for a while now.

But here are two ways to figure out what your audience likes.

  1. Stories

    What are they sharing in their story? Is it their own content or sharing others? Use this information to inspire your next pieces of content. If they shared it before, the chances of them sharing it again are extremely likely.

  2. Follows

    Who do they follow? How many mutual followers do you have? Are they following any competitors? Are any of their followers' prospective audience members for you?

Note: The above is only possible if their profile is public. If their profile is private, you won't be able to study them. However, I encourage you to follow a few private profiles and begin to learn about them and their behaviors. Some of my most loyal community members have private Instagram accounts.

4. How do they show up online?

What do they post on their feed? Do they have a website? What about other IG profiles? What is in their bio? Are they on other social platforms?

I love to pick random followers or commenters, scroll through their social feed, and see what I can discover. I look at their tagged pictures and who is tagging them. This sometimes takes me down a rabbit hole, but I always come out of the hole with a 💎!


You can learn a lot about who is engages with you by looking beyond the metrics and analytics. Yes, they are helpful, but there is more you need to do to grow.

Does this take more time? — YES!

Will this make you show up differently than others? — YES!

Are you willing to put in the effort? — The answer should be YES!

Happy Studying Friends!