Why are engagement rates important in influencer marketing?

When you select influencers to participate in a campaign, you can use influencers’ engagement rates to determine which influencers to collaborate with. High engagement rates show that an influencer has ‘influence’ — the influencer is capable of creating content that can elicit a response from an audience, and thus deliver a ROI.

Additionally, engagement rates help brands gauge how their influencer marketing campaigns are received by influencers’ followers. If a sponsored post generates high engagements, the collaboration can be considered a success. The high engagements generated in the collaboration indicate that the influencers were effective in relaying a branded message that their followers connected and interacted with, by liking, commenting, or sharing the post.

What’s engagement rate?

Engagement rate is a metric that measures how many interactions (likes and comments) an Instagram post receives, relative to the number of followers an influencer has.

To calculate engagement rates, the following formula can be used:

For example, a brand collaborated with an influencer that has 157,625 followers. The sponsored post has 4,067 likes and 176 comments. To calculate the engagement rate, add the post’s likes and comments, then divide the total by the influencer’s followers. Multiple the number by 100. The influencer has an engagement rate of 2.69%.

At inzpire.me, influencers’ engagement rates for each connected social media channel are visible on their profiles. This allows you to easily understand how an influencer performs on a particular social media channel before committing to a collaboration. After launching a campaign, the influencers’ engagement rates for their sponsored posts will also be made accessible, along with other key metrics, so you can decipher whether the influencers in the campaign performed well and note the influencers who had stand-out collaborations. This makes it easier to implement a long-term influencer marketing strategy.

What’s reach?

In influencer marketing, often times, reach is mistakenly believed to be the total number of followers an influencer has on a social media channel. However, reach is defined as the total number of people who actually see a post an influencer publishes. On social media, when influencers publish a post, only a fraction of their followers actually see the post. There are several factors that affect a post’s visibility, such as algorithms on different social media channels or an influencer’s timing of a post.

Engagement and reach Instagram benchmarks for influencers

When launching influencer marketing campaigns, you may find it difficult to determine what engagement rates and reach you should expect to reach in your campaigns. We’ve explored the engagement rates and reach of the most recent 1,000 sponsored Instagram posts that were created by influencers through inzpire.me to calculate Instagram benchmarks you can expect to see in your campaigns.

As you can see in the chart above, influencers with a smaller follower size generate the highest engagement rates, and the engagement rates drop as the follower size increases. Influencers who have between 2-5k followers have an engagement rate of approximately 9%, and that number drops to approximately 2% when their follower size is above 100k.

But why do influencers with a smaller follower size have higher engagement rates?

Micro-influencers — influencers with less than 10,000 followers — are often perceived as more trustworthy and authentic by their followers, thus resulting in more engagements. There are multiple reasons that could affect this perception:

  • When an influencer’s profile doesn’t have a massive following of, for example, 100,000 followers, it may be easier for the influencer’s audience to feel a closer connection to the influencer
  • With less followers, micro-influencers can spend time responding to all the comments they receive from their followers, allowing for a two-way dialogue between influencers and followers, which assists in building genuine relationships
  • Micro-influencers’ social media following may contain a higher percentage of friends and family, resulting in higher engagements
  • Larger profiles have usually been around longer and might naturally have more inactive followers

Additionally, if we rearrange the influencers by engagement rates, rather than follower size, it is clear that influencers with higher engagements rates reach a larger fraction of their followers, while influencers with lower engagement rates reach a smaller fraction of their followers.

There are multiple reasons why influencers with higher engagements rates can reach a higher percentage of their followers:

  • The algorithm Instagram uses favors highly engaging content by pushing it in front of more people, while punishing posts where engagement is faked
  • Because Instagram favors highly engaging content, profiles with great content will likely get more engagements, and thus more reach
  • Influencers with higher engagement rates may be better at posting their content at optimal times during the day to generate higher engagements and reach

The Bottom Line

Engagement rates appear to be an important variable to consider before choosing to collaborate with an Instagram influencer. However, a successful influencer marketing campaign should ultimately be based on your campaign goals, so while engagement rates are important, consider what you want to achieve with your campaign before inviting influencers to join it.

If generating a high level of engagement is the goal of your campaign, consider working with a larger number of profiles with high engagement rates and a smaller follower size. If reaching a large audience is your goal, consider working with profiles that have a large follower size, across all engagement rates, as they will likely reach a bigger audience in absolute numbers.

If you want to launch a successful influencer marketing campaign that generates high engagements and reaches a large audience, it would be best to work with a combination of influencers with varying follower sizes and engagement rates.


inzpire.me is an influencer marketing platform that connects brands with influencers across the globe. Ready to launch a campaign? Schedule a call today!


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