Influencer engagement: What is it and why does it matter

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Engagement, along with the number of followers, is one of the most important metrics in influencer marketing and on Instagram. It helps us to select those influencers with quality work, to know whether their publications have been successful. It also serves to identify the relationship between the influencer’s followers and brand content. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the engagement rate on Instagram. You can also increase the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns.

What is the engagement rate?

The engagement rate measures the interactions that the influencer’s publications receive, in relation to the followers they have. In general, it is understood as:

This formula, which is usually expressed as a percentage, can be misleading and make interpretation difficult. Many people believe that it is the percentage of followers who interact with the content. However, that is not technically true. Actually, it should be interpreted as the interactions that an average publication receives for every 100 followers the influencer has.

Case study

One example is if there is an influencer who has a 5% engagement rate and 10,000 followers. As we have explained in the previous point, this means that, on average, a publication of yours receives 5 interactions for every 100 followers it has. So, if you have 10,000 followers and we ask you to make a post, you would expect your publication to have something similar to 10,000 x 5% = 500 interactions.

How is it calculated?

Instagram does not show the user engagement rate, but you can make a quick estimate of yourself. You can discover this by comparing some influencer publications: to do this, you average the likes and comments and divide the result by the number of followers.

We strongly recommend that you do not manually examine influencers, yourself, as it is tedious.

The most efficient thing to do is to use an influencer marketing platform since it will give you more precise metrics. These are based on many more posts than you would have the ability to analyze. In fact, some go further and use artificial intelligence to tell you if the engagement is good or bad. Everything always depends on the type of influencer.

Why do different platforms give different engagement rates?

In the industry, there is no consensus about specific calculations to reach this metric. Thus, it is normal for different influencer marketing platforms to differ slightly in the engagement metrics of the same influencer.

Here are some reasons:

Different types of interactions are included. Usually this includes the number of likes. It can also include the number of comments, but some platforms may add the number of video views.      

Phone apps influencer engagement

Different time periods are used for the calculation. It is important that the period of time allows a recent, relevant, and a sufficiently large sample of posts. The various platforms have different ways of determining the appropriate period. Because of this, you can obtain different data depending on the platform you use.      

Different formulas apply. It is common to use a trend measure on the number of interactions. This can be an arithmetic mean, a weighted average, etc. In addition, some tools eliminate outliers prior to data processing. All of these variations in calculations make the final metrics differ from one platform to another.      

How can you use engagement to improve your campaigns?

An engagement rate is a key tool in your influencer marketing campaigns. It is necessary both in the selection of influencers and in the evaluation of the campaign.

In the selection of influencers

Except for some cases, the greater the engagement, the better. That does not mean that it is the only thing we should look at; the number of followers, the content, and their type of audience are also fundamental. In addition, as a general rule, as the number of followers grows, it is more difficult to maintain a high engagement rate. Therefore, micro-influencers tend to have better engagement than “Instagram celebrities.” 

What does low engagement indicate?

It is difficult to categorically establish a figure from which the engagement is high or low. For this, we must examine the specific profile, according to the type of influencer, the industry, the number of followers, etc. However, as an indicative figure, it could be considered as an engagement of less than 1%.

Low engagement can mean several things:

● Influencer content is uninteresting to your audience      

● The influencer may have many old followers. The older the active influencer account, the chance that they have inactive followers is greater. This is especially true when we talk about influencers with a large number of followers. When this happens, the influencer will have a high number of followers who do not interact with them. This causes the engagement percentage to fall. 

● The influencer has bought fake followers. Fake followers, as a rule, do not interact with the influencer’s content. This increases the number of followers, but the number of interactions is maintained. In these cases, the engagement rate is usually low.      

With engagement too low, you should examine the influencer more thoroughly before seeking to collaborate with them.

And too high engagement? Does such a thing exist?

Yes. An exorbitant engagement rate may indicate that there has been a purchase of fake likes. Although there are influencers who inflate their statistics and maintain adequate proportions of followers and false likes, they are not in the majority.

It is normal for the inexperienced influencer not to know what number of likes is reasonable for its number of followers. Hence, some buy a disproportionate amount of likes.

For example, between 20% and 30% of engagement is the border between excellent and authentic engagement and suspiciously high engagement. If there is greater than 30% engagement, you should look at the account with more scrutiny. If you want more precision, tools like Heepsy use artificial intelligence. These take into account different metrics and influencer behaviors to determine when their engagement is suspicious.

How can I use engagement to measure brand affinity?

There are ways to know the brand affinity of the followers of certain influencers with your brand. One is to examine the branded content published by the influencer in previous collaborations with brands similar to yours.

There are platforms that analyze the mentions of influencer’s brands and calculate the engagement rate of those publications. If it is much lower than average, the influencer audience does not have such an affinity with that branded content or it may also be that advertising has not been introduced organically enough.

This must be taken into account before collaborating with this influencer.

In your campaign KPIs

The engagement rate is the cornerstone of reporting an influencer marketing campaign. It helps you measure the success of the campaign, and understand which influencers have worked best in your collaboration.

If you have been careful in selecting influencers using the above tips, you will expect posts to have some engagement rate. When you have posted to your brand, and received under engagement, it may be for several reasons:

  • Your audience has little affinity with your brand      
  • Content posted has been of poor quality or of little relevance      
  • Your influencer purchased false followers      

At times an influencer may resort to buying likes. Some do so with the goal of impressing the brand and ensuring future collaborations. This can be detected by checking if the engagement is within the expected ranges. You can also use a tool to analyze who has liked the publication.

If an influencer receives anomalous engagement rates in your collaborations, it may not fit your brand well and you should reconsider having him in future marketing actions. For more information, in this article, we explain more in-depth how to make the KPIs of a campaign

As you can see, there are many things that influence the engagement rate. Mastering this metric and, in general, learning to analyze the profiles of influencers, can seem like an overwhelming task. But do not despair: with practice you will learn to use engagement to take your Instagram campaigns to the “next level.”

Sandra is a project manager at Heepsy. She focuses on making sure Heepsy works perfectly and that the platform adapts to the needs of our customers and market. Outside her role, she loves playing board games!

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