Update 11/24/15: After their failed attempt to require a subscription for analytics earlier this year, Iconosquare learned a lot. And they’re trying again: starting December 1, 2015, analytics will no longer be offered to free users. They look to be serious about it this time, so here’s a list of places you can still find Instagram stats for free.
Where can I find free Instagram analytics?
AgoraPulse CEO Emeric Ernault wrote a blog post with five handy alternatives. The problem is that these alternatives also seem better suited to marketers or marketing teams, not casual power users like me. So I did a little work and found three viable Iconosquare alternatives for power users (with no marketing budgets).
Websta is a great one that’s been around for awhile. Even though their dashboard is a bit cluttered with advertising, they offered the same stats that Iconosquare does. My personal necessity is the posting optimization, which Websta includes:
Websta offers literally every type of statistic that Iconosquare offers, and they’re free.
Ink361 is another free site that offers a range of stats. They’re colorful and very pretty, much like Iconosquare’s. The only catch is that they don’t have post optimization, which is why I’m not fully onboard.
But I like the look of what they do have, and it’s also pretty cool that you can order prints of your Instagram photos.
My Iconosquare replacement: squarelovin
I found out about squarelovin the morning after I wrote this post, and had to add it. It’s got a clean, beautiful interface. And not only does it have a wide range of stats–including the all-important post optimization–they’re arranged beautifully in fun colors. On top of that, they tell you when not to post!
But make sure you’re aware: any picture can be downloaded from the viewer mode. That means you can download your pictures or other people’s, and they could download yours, too. Don’t be fooled, though: this doesn’t mean your pictures are safer with another Instagram viewer. Just because Iconosquare or Websta doesn’t have a download link doesn’t mean people can’t save the picture or take a screenshot of it.
Another thing to note: they’re located in Germany. And even though you enter your location, the time zone in your Optimization analytics still reflects local time in Germany. Once I realized this, it made way more sense why my optimization would tell me to post at 5 am (that is 8 pm local time, which is when other sites have told me is the best time for me to post).
All three platforms allow you to like and comment on pictures in your feed from the program. Also, analytics will not automatically update; you have to check the site every day in order to force them to update your statistics. If you pay for Iconosquare, your analytics will update daily whether you check them or not.
There are plenty of similarities among squarelovin, Websta, and Ink361, so I created a matrix to compare an contrast them:
|Yearly stats||Overview||Post history||Filter usage||Likes & comments received||Best times & days to post||Top tags on Instagram||Follower & following analysis|
Update 5/1/15: Iconosquare’s back and so is my Iconosquare account.
Ultimately, I’m not sure which service to stay with. Free Iconosquare is back, and that’s great. But their statistic updates are slow (mine was last updated April 25), so it seems like they only update when you log in, even if you’re supposed to get email alerts.
And squarelovin is completely overloaded because of the flood of people switching from Iconosquare, so all their servers are overloaded. This means my stats haven’t ever been accurate in the three days that I’ve used the service.
The only statistics that seem accurate are Websta’s. They’ve been around long enough to have enough server capacity and regular updates, which is great. But I sure hate their ad-filled interface.
So we’re really getting what we pay for.
Which brings us back to paying for a service that provides reliable updates. Iconosquare’s mistake was not to start charging for its services. It was to start charging without soliciting the input of its users and fans. Plenty of people tweeted that they’d be happy to pay, but the base price of $199/month was too much.
Update 11/24/15: Iconosquare is going to require a subscription for analytics starting 12/1/15. They will no longer be available to free users.
Looks like they’re serious about it this time. Here’s their notice.
How much would you be willing to pay for a reliable Instagram analytics service, as a regular user?