Last Friday, I got my first haircut in seven months. I started off 2020 with a short fade — the type that’s become synonymous with guys who shop at Everlane and think buying dumbbells is a personality. Then the quarantine hit, barbershops closed and my middle part came to life. Reaching Lisa Rinna’s spiky length in early September wasn’t cute, so I headed to the barber for a trim.
I posted my new ’do — the trendy eBoy cut — to Instagram. I am a gay male after all. (Millennials, you might know this look by the 1990s name “butt cut.”) The photo showed me laughing at an outdoor Bushwick bar, and it popped off. Why be humble about it? My Midwestern aunts gassed me up in the comments, while my pandemic crush tapped the heart button. You know a photo is good when a random fashion brand you’ve never heard of comments to ask for a collab.
My new-hair serotonin boost soured by morning. Instagram sent hungover me a push notification, celebrating that my photo was performing 95 percent better than my previous posts. What they thought was good news I took as an attack. Instagram was trying to ruin my happiness. Why would they say such hurtful things about my old post like that? Don’t they know all of my photos are phenomenal and worthy of adoration? Don’t they want the best for me?
Once my Sicilian anger subsided, I took a deeper look at the analytics. Let’s just say I learned more about what people think of me than my therapist would approve of.
You can find your own Instagram analytics by turning your profile into a business account. (For the record, I had no business making my Insta into a business. I thought it’d get me the “swipe up” feature. No, I still don’t have it. Yes, I’m still upset.) Making the switch taught me a great deal about my personal Instagram account.
For instance, I learned that people are not as into my selfies as I would like. (Will be trying out a new face angle. Stay tuned.) My followers prefer candids, like the one of my haircut.
Some other insights I was surprised to find:
- You’re probably not popping up on the Explore page… sorry.
- Horny followers are probably bookmarking your thot pics.
- Friends are talking shit about your posts in the DMs. (Or maybe just mine.)
Post insights are surprisingly detailed and broken down by how many replies, profile visits, new followers and general impressions each post garnered. Because I’m a non-influencer, I can’t be an Explore-page gay; most of my minimal engagement comes from Home and Profile pages.
It’s tempting to obsess over these numbers. For one, my Hinge profile links to my Instagram. I have to get the Brooklyn gays what they want and put my best digital footprint forward.
Then again, being a thot on main has its drawbacks. Hot girls, listen up: The analytics reveal how many people are bookmarking your posts. Say you have a purely social Instagram with a few hundred followers and post photos only on vacation and at weddings. Why would anyone want to bookmark your trip to Cabo San Lucas from last summer? Well, you might just be unknowingly part of some dude’s secret spank bank.
MEL’s self-proclaimed Instagram thot Magdalene Taylor learned last year that guys are bookmarking her posts for self-pleasure. Through analytics, she found out a selfie typically garners her 23 saves, while a bikini pic has 112. “Some people make Pinterest boards about their favorite curtain fabrics. It’s sort of the same thing but with horny dudes and Instathots,” a dude told her. Talk about a toxic mood board.
That’s not all analytics is doing to keep you spiraling. Last week, I learned that you can see the number of people DMing your post to a third party. Let me say that again: You can see how many people are talking shit about your posts — without knowing what they’re saying. Torture!
This radicalized me. I spent two hours looking through all 123 posts to deduce which ones started gossip. The selfies and plandids don’t elicit DMs (it’s official, I’m not an Insta thot). But I might just be a budding news influencer: Surprisingly, my posts outlining recent articles I’ve written get direct-messaged often, though they rarely garner many likes. It seems nobody wants to talk about my new haircut, but they want to discuss my interview with Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira about her mullet. (Once again, Instagram, this is why I need “swipe up.” Let me get those clicks and impress my boss, ugh.)
Instagram analytics ultimately won’t change much about the way you use your account. The tool also doesn’t give you much more insight about your Close Friends, Reels or Story posts. But it’s a humbling reminder that our digital footprint is never going unnoticed. That is, unless you’re the beach selfie I posted in July. It garnered not a single DM. What gives?