If you are at all familiar with influencers, you must already know what “likes”, “comments” or “followers” mean. But as you dig a little deeper, there are also metrics like reach, impressions, engagement rate, or realness that can tell you a lot about an influencer. As a brand or marketer, how do you navigate these metrics and understand which ones are most important to your influencer marketing campaigns?
Top influencer metrics to analyze before selecting an influencer
The terms community or followers are straightforward enough – How many people follow an influencer? But there is a lot more about an influencer’s following size that any brands and marketers must know.
In general, there are 3 main categories of influencer sizes:
- Micro-influencers: Under 20k followers
- Mid-size influencers: 20k to 400k followers
- Macro-influencers: 400k and above
Depending on who you ask, these numbers can vary. Some even consider categories like nano-influencers (under 10k) or celebrities (above 1 million followers). The numbers we use are very much a framework and can change depending on your industry, location, and goals. For example, a beauty influencer with 100k followers can be considered mid-size, but an influencer in Cloud Computing (niche) with 100k followers can be macro-level.
What you should know about following sizes
In general, influencers with a large following charge more for their campaigns, only work with certain brands, or have extremely tight schedules. Needless to say, it’s competitive when brands want to work with mega influencers. (Remember when Kylie Jenner was offered $1.2M in exchange for an Instagram post?) In our blog post “5 Ways Micro-Influencers Can Transform Your Business,” you can learn more about why bigger isn’t always better when it comes to influencer following size.
This is why brands and marketers can’t stop after looking at influencer’s following size. What other metrics can you consider to deeper understand an influencer’s impact?
Most people have some sort of understanding about reach and impressions, yet we’ve heard “What’s the difference between Reach and Impressions again?” more than you can ever imagine. But we don’t blame you, as sometimes the two terms can be confusing, especially when placed right next to each other. Here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown on the two terms, and whether you really need to pay attention to them.
Reach is the number of unique people who see your content. So, in a perfect world, if an influencer has 100 followers, they’ll have a reach of 100.
Impressions is the number of times that content has appeared on people’s feeds.
Oftentimes, the number of estimated impressions is higher than the number of estimated reach, simply because one person might see your content more than once. For example, if the content has been shown on 10 people’s feeds twice, the reach would be 10, and impressions would be 20.
What you should know about reach and impressions
Estimated reach and number of impressions are useful when you want a quick snapshot of an influencer’s general impact. However, it’s important to note that because impressions are calculated based on how many times your content has appeared on someone’s feed, it doesn’t guarantee the person has seen the content. For instance, they may close the app before scrolling all the way down to your content.
At the same time, in this day and age, reach and impressions are only the top layer of many other metrics you need to pay attention to. Just because 1,000 people have seen a post doesn’t necessarily mean there will be 1,000 engagements or conversions. We will talk more about it in the metrics below, as well as in our blog post “4 Ways to Track Your Campaigns’ Performance.”
A metric that’s arguably more important than reach and impressions is the engagement rate: the number of average likes and comments an influencer receive compared to the total number of their followers. Let’s move out of the “How many people have seen my content” realm, and look at “How many of them are actually interacting with my content?”
An influencer’s engagement rate is the first prediction of how well your campaign might perform when you work with said influencer. As a brand, you need to be assured that your products are shown to a real and active audience. While reach can show the number of people who have seen the content, engagement rate shows a much more important picture: whois actually liking, commenting, showing interest, and potentially becoming real customers.
What you should know about engagement rate
A standard influencer typically has an engagement rate between 1% – 3%, although smaller sized and niche influencers tend to have a higher engagement rate (4% – 7%). So, if an influencer has 100k followers, expect the number of likes and comments on their post to range from 1,000 to 3,000. If they perform well, you can also see 5,000 or above.
Micro-influencers tend to have a closer relationship with their followers. Just like how it would be easier for you to build a relationship with everyone in a smaller friend group, than to a giant room full of people. This is why smaller influencers’ engagement rates tend to be higher, more relevant to their content, and more similar to interactions between friends.
The recent “fake follower” crisis seems to have swept brands and marketers into a whirlwind of skepticism. “How do I know if this influencer didn’t buy half of their followers? How do I know my products will be shown to real consumers and not bots?” The good news is there are effective tools to detect fake followers and influencers have become more cautious about inauthentic followers.
Upfluence has an influencer realness detection tool in its software, but even then, what red flags should you look out for influencer realness? Are influencers safe to work with only when they have 100% real followers? What about 90%? What can you do to double-check?
What you should know about fake followers
Our software detects inauthentic followers based on engaged followers, which are those who directly interact with influencers through likes and comments. So, an influencer with a 3% engagement, and 94% realness should be good to go. Note: It is possible for an influencer to never have bought fake followers to still have “spammy” comments sometimes due to their profiles being public, so anywhere above 90% realness is a positive indicator of an authentic audience.
Analyzing numbers can also be very telling. Does an influencer have 500k followers, but posts with only around 200 likes? (That’s 0.04% engagement rate. Yikes.) What about certain posts having significantly more likes than the other posts? Inconsistencies in performance metrics are a strong sign of a fake audience, but this is only one of the many ways to detect fake followers.
Influencers are great – that’s why you are here. But the reality is there is a thing such as “influencer fatigue.” This happens when consumers are exosed to too much influencer branded content. There are some influencers who are guilty of doing this, by having most – if not all – of their content dedicated to brand sponsorship.
There are two reasons for brands to avoid working with these types of influencers: not only will followers not trust the constant brand promotions (who can realistically praise 10 products in a day?), but your brand will get lost in a sea of branded content. Additionally, if an influencer constantly works with so many brands, how are you sure they didn’t or won’t work with your competitor as well?
What you should know about branded content frequency
You can identify sponsored content frequency by simply looking through an influencer’s feed. Not a fan of manual work? Upfluence also has a brand mention data collection that shows you how often an influencer mention brands, which brands they mention, how many times they mention that brand, and how well those branded posts perform compared to their average engagement rate.
It’s rare to come across bigger influencers who have a low brand mention – and by that, we mean anywhere below 20%. (More reasons to work with micro-influencers!) But try your best to choose influencers with less than 50% – which means they mention a brand every other post. Nevertheless, it is the most important data to look at is how well those branded posts perform compared to non-sponsored posts. You’ll want an influencer whose effective percentage stays above 100%, meaning their branded posts perform just as well or better than other posts on their feed.
Despite its fast growth in recent years, influencer marketing is still a very young industry for its size. For that reason, it’s easy for brands and agencies to get lost in many new emerging terms, especially with some being more important than others. With Upfluence Software, you can learn about all of these influencer metrics with just a few clicks – their engagement rate, average impressions, average reach, and even branded content frequency.