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Published November 10th 2020

How to Get the Best Instagram Data Coverage with Brandwatch

As Facebook clamps down on misuse of its API, some other social listening tools are having to remove their customers’ data. At Brandwatch, we’re spending that time continuing to improve our Instagram analytics solutions.

Facebook and Instagram are two of the largest social networks in the world. With billions of users posting every month, they are a critical source of consumer intelligence.

With the responsibility of protecting all those users’ privacy, Facebook is rightly strict about how analytics tools like Brandwatch can handle its data, both private and public. Since Facebook released its new Graph API a few years ago, Brandwatch has provided its customers with the best possible access to this data in a way that’s fully compliant with Facebook’s terms.

Not all data providers have done the same. And when Facebook recently began reviewing handling of its data more closely, several of them have had to start removing data from their customers’ projects or risk losing access to Facebook and Instagram data altogether.

How Brandwatch collects Instagram data

The key point that Facebook recently clarified this summer in its updated terms for providers like Brandwatch is that data collected for each customer must be maintained separately by us and not shared with any other customers. The good news for Brandwatch users is that this is exactly how we originally built our new Instagram and Facebook analytics solutions. So, unlike for other providers, there will be no necessary changes or loss of data for our users.

Brandwatch lets customers collect and monitor Instagram data for social listening in several different ways:

Instagram Data

Source Data Metadata
Owned Instagram accounts
  • Owner Posts
  • Audience Comments
  • Posts that Tag or @Mention your account
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Non-owned Instagram accounts Owner Posts
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Instagram Hashtags All public posts (anonymized)
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • To collect this data in Brandwatch you need to authenticate with a Facebook account with the relevant role on a Facebook page linked to an Instagram business account.

    You can now also target multiple non-owned accounts to improve your general coverage. With the bulk uploader it’s easy to quickly add a large number in one go by uploading a csv file, or you can choose from a selection of pre-built lists of Instagram influencers, brands, and media accounts.

    You can target up to 30 Instagram hashtags per account you have authenticated with. With the way Brandwatch handles this data, 30 is usually more than enough to cover what you need.

    Private data pools

    The reason you must authenticate, even for public data, is that Brandwatch doesn’t actually ‘provide’ this data. Instead, we collect it on your behalf using the tokens provided by you authenticating. In reality, you get the data directly from Facebook. Brandwatch then stores it and analyzes it for you privately in our platform.

    By adding these sources you can build up a private data pool of Instagram posts which you can then access whenever you need.

    Benefits of the Brandwatch approach

    There are two main benefits to how Brandwatch handles Instagram data.

    The first is that it is compliant with how Facebook wants developers to use its API. This means it is a trustworthy long-term solution that won’t be cut off at some point in the future. And it’s a solution that provides comprehensive social analytics of the topics you care about while still following the ethical guidelines set by Facebook to protect its users’ privacy.

    The second is that you can add as much data as you like to this private pool without fear of getting capped or running out of data or queries in your allowance. Only once you write a specific query that matches data in your private pool does it count towards your usage.

    This is particularly useful for Instagram hashtags, which can be used several million times per month. You want to be able to access all these conversations, but you only actually need specific data within this pool.

    Once you add tracking of your own accounts and a large pool of non-owned accounts, you have the coverage you need for all key use cases such as tracking your own channel performance or that of competitors or influencers you’re evaluating.

    Having a lot of non-owned accounts also helps you discover influencers in your brand or topic queries as this data includes author information (hashtag data must be anonymized).

    Building your own private pool of data by targeting hashtags and accounts in this way means you can ensure the best possible coverage of the data you need. Not everyone has multiple Facebook and Instagram accounts they can use to authenticate with to collect data. With Brandwatch, even with just one authentication token you can cover most of the conversations you are going to want to catch and we are improving the efficiency with which we use your tokens to collect data all the time.

    Better coverage

    Tools that haven’t built this two stage ‘private pool’ system force you to choose the hashtags you want to track much more carefully because you want to avoid getting capped by tracking the more popular ones or running out of queries trying to track multiple smaller ones.

    If you’re monitoring a brand on Instagram with tools like these you’re going to have to do it by tracking the brand’s hashtag. This does work but it risks missing up to a quarter of the relevant mentions of that brand on Instagram.

    Creating a ‘private pool’ of data with even a few relevant industry hashtags lets you find more mentions when users don’t tag your brand directly.

    Better querying

    Some topics are hard, or even impossible, to track via one or two hashtags. If you’re trying to monitor specific consumer trends which people don’t use a specific hashtag for when talking about it, you need a private pool approach.

    For example if you want to monitor the trend of vegan milk alternatives you might track the hashtag #veganmilk. This hashtag is used around 2,500 times per month on Instagram.

    But if you have a pool of data for relevant hashtags like #vegan, #milk, #food, #drink etc and you then write a query for:

    (vegan OR plant-based) AND milk 

    you will be collecting over 44k mentions a month.

    The Brandwatch approach gives you better coverage and more control of the data that you need. And it does it all compliantly.

    To find out more about Brandwatch’s Instagram analytics capabilities book a meeting with one of our experts today.

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