Influencer engagement: everything you need to know

If you want to find the best influencers for your next campaign, then you need to understand influencer engagement. Analyzing an influencer’s performance is a key step in deciding whether they will be a good match for your campaign. They might post pretty pictures and use the right hashtags – but are they actually driving results for their partners? Doing a deep dive on influencer engagement will help you to know what to look for when you’re evaluating a shortlist of influencer profiles. In this blog, we’ll look at what influencer engagement is, how to measure it and why it’s so important. 

Definition: What is engagement? 

When we talk about influencer engagement, we’re really talking about social engagement. Engagements are any interactions a user has with a particular social post including likes, shares, comments, and clicks. The exact type of interactions vary depending on the platform, for example, retweets are only possible on Twitter. Some engagements are more meaningful than others. For example, hitting the like or share button requires less effort than writing a comment.

Upfluence’s influencer search tool gives users direct insight into the types of engagement an influencer is generating. We measure key interactions such as likes, comments, and views to offer an overview of their typical levels of engagement, including average likes, average comments, engagement rate overall, and engagement rate per post. 

influencer engagement

Why is influencer engagement important?

You can get an insight into how engaged a creator’s followers are by looking at their engagement rate. With so many posts competing for our attention, only influencers who are skilled at creating highly engaging content will regularly solicit interactions from their followers. An influencer’s engagement rate is not just a snapshot in time – it shows whether an influencer is consistently producing top-performing content. 

Influencer engagement is an important indicator of an influencer’s overall performance and their potential to drive results for your brand. During your influencer search, you might find yourself with a list of hundreds of influencers that look suitable for your campaign. Analyzing the engagement rate, average likes, average comments and average views of each influencer will help you cherry-pick the best performers for your influencer marketing campaign. 

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, marketers report that engagement or clicks are the most important factor when choosing influencers. A strong engagement rate means an influencer is likely to generate a positive return on investment and generate real results for your brand. What’s more, clicks are an important form of engagement that is most closely associated with driving conversions. For example, if you’re running an Instagram Story campaign then you want to measure how many people are clicking the link to visit your store, as well as to measure the number of likes and views. 

How do you calculate an influencer’s engagement rate? 

An influencer’s engagement rate is a measure of the average amount of engagements they are generating overall. It takes into account all engagements generated over a certain period of time instead of focusing on the performance of one post. Calculating an influencer’s average engagement rate offers a bigger picture of their engagement and indicates what percentage of their audience is interacting with their posts. The engagement rate is calculated with the formula: number of engagements/number of followers x 100.

What is a good influencer engagement rate? 

Before we dive into the numbers it’s important to know the context. As the number of creators continues to grow, the knock-on effect is that influencer engagement rates overall are declining. More creators = more content, and more content = more competition for likes, comments, and shares which means lower engagement. With so much content being posted to social feeds, an influencer’s post really needs to stand out from the crowd to go viral and generate a maximum of engagements. 

A ‘good’ influencer engagement rate for an influencer with a mid to large-sized audience is 3% or above. Most influencers will have an engagement rate between 1% and 3%, so anything over 3% would be considered above average. Micro-influencers, who have smaller audiences tend to have higher influencer engagement rates overall. For a micro-influencer, an engagement rate of 5% and above shows a strong performance. 

Remember, identifying what makes a ‘good’ influencer engagement rate will depend on an influencer’s number of followers, and which social media platform we’re using to measure engagements. In the section below we’ll explore why some types of influencers and some social networks generate higher engagements than others. 

Influencer engagement rate trends 

Influencer engagement rate is different for each creator, but there are some trends that are worth noting. Engagement rates can vary according to influencer tier (i.e the number of followers) and b social media network. Some influencer tiers and social platforms are predisposed to generating higher engagement than others.  

influencer engagement rate
Image credit: Upfluence data via Influencer Marketing Hub

Micro-influencers have higher engagement 

The table above, based on data from Upfluence, shows that micro-influencers who have less than 15K followers have a consistently higher engagement rate, across all social networks than influencers with a higher number of followers. This can be explained by the fact that micro-influencers have built an online following around niche topics which attracts an audience who share those same interests and are more likely to interact with their posts. It’s far easier to interact with and get to know your followers if you have a smaller audience, which in turn encourages high engagement. 

TikTok influencers have higher engagement

We can see that engagement rates for influencers across all categories are consistently generating significantly higher engagement rates on TikTok, compared to Instagram and YouTube. TikTok is the champion of the short video, which is a highly engaging format. The platform is designed for content discovery, pushing funny and entertaining videos to the ‘For You’ page, helping them to get maximum visibility and engagement. If you’re looking to connect with a younger audience and show the playful side of your brand then working with a TikTok influencer is a great place to start! 

The impact of fake followers on influencer engagement

It’s an unfortunate reality that some influencers (whether intentionally or not) will have a significant amount of fake followers or bots within their social media audience. This is bad news for brands as promoting your products to a bot that is never going to become a customer is a complete waste of your marketing dollars. 

Fake followers are an important consideration when looking at an influencer’s engagement because fake followers will often leave a lot of spammy comments and likes to artificially boost an influencer’s engagement. Fake followers can inflate a creator’s engagement rate so it looks higher than it actually is. There are, however, ways for marketers to see through this. Marketers should look at an influencer’s real follower % to see what percentage of their audience is made of genuine users. Generally, anything above 90% is a good indicator that they have a real audience. You can also analyze the comments on their posts to see if you see any repetitive comments or spammy messages that don’t look real. For more tips to overcome this, check out this blog on how to tell if an influencer has fake followers. 

Upfluence’s influencer search tool calculates the real follower % of each influencer so brands can quickly identify influencers with an authentic audience and accurate performance statistics. In this example below we can see that beauty influencer @lisa.scharff’s audience is 93% real. 

fake followers

When finding influencers for your brand, influencer engagement is an important metric to keep top of mind. Now you understand what engagement rate tells you about an influencer’s performance, you can choose creators who will deliver results for your brand. With insights into influencer engagement trends and the factors that influence engagement, including the type of social media platform and the presence of fake followers, you can seek out influencers who are genuinely generating impressive engagement. 

Prepare for your influencer search with insight on influencer types and tips for choosing the best creators for your brand in How to Find Influencers – The Complete Guide.

Upfluence_Guide_How to find influencers

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