Look at the Engagement Rate of an Influencer, Not Just Their Follower Count

Social Media Policies

If you ask yourself the characteristics that make someone an influencer, the very first thing you’ll probably imagine is that they have lots of people following them on social networks. It’s not necessarily wrong, but that’s not the only thing that makes someone an influencer these days, either.

Nowadays, social media influencers have to keep up an excellent engagement rate, in addition to growing their following. Let’s look at what an engagement rate is, why it’s important, and how you can analyze it.

What is the engagement rate?

Engagement rate is the measure of the connection between an influencer and their followers. The more involved the audience is in the content of an influencer, the more frequently they’ll engage with it. The types of engagements you can expect to see vary somewhat based on the social platform you’re on. However, in general, you can think of things like shares, likes, comments, and so on.

To calculate engagement rate, take the number of interactions for one post, then divide that sum by the number of followers an influencer has, and finally, multiply the result by 100. That’s the engagement of that particular post. To get a better understanding of the overall engagement of an influencer, apply this approach to a variety of posts and calculate the average.

If you do not want to calculate engagement rate manually, then utilize one of the influencer marketing platforms to examine influencers. The platform calculates an average engagement rate for you and analyzes an influencer’s engagement against the benchmark for their peers.

In addition, engagement rates benchmarks differ based on the amount of followers an influencer has as well as the social media platform they’re using. You shouldn’t be comparing an influencer who has 50K followers against one with 5M followers. Also, don’t compare TikTok influencers with YouTubers or Instagrammers. These networks provide different types of interaction and, consequently, have different averages for engagement.

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@valeskaschneider is a surfing influencer from Germany. She has a 4.8% engagement rate, which is a lot higher than the norm for Instagram influencers who have 15-50K followers.

Why is engagement important?

Imagine speaking in front of a massive crowd, but only a few people are actually interested in the message you’re delivering. Now imagine speaking to a small group where the majority is intensely interested in your message. Which of the groups is more likely to believe in you, take in the message, and then possibly share it with others?

This is how engagement functions. In the example above we can consider the person speaking to a large group as a macro influencer. In contrast, the one who spoke to a smaller crowd was a micro influencer. Although that micro influencer has a smaller audience, the people who are there are more interested in what they hear from the influencer.

This is essential for your company, since you can leverage this engagement to your benefit. People who are engaged with their followers are more keen on the influencer’s content niche. Likewise, if they are loyal to an influencer they’re more likely to trust the brands that the influencer is promoting.

Can an engagement rate be too low or high?

In both cases, yes. Keep an eye out for extreme engagement at either end of the spectrum.

If engagement is extremely low, it can indicate one of three things, all of which are negative. One possibility is that the followers simply don’t care about the influencer’s content. Or, the influencer may have an abundance of followers that, despite being real, aren’t active anymore. Finally, low engagement could indicate the influencer has a lot of fake followers.

When the engagement of an influencer is extremely high, it could simply be because they make a huge effort at maintaining their social community! However, it could also indicate that they have bought fake likes, comments or other forms of engagement. If you find an influencer with extremely high engagement, you need to investigate the authenticity of the audience to confirm that the users who are engaged with their content are genuine.

How do I know what the average engagement is for a certain segment?

For benchmarks on engagement, you can make use of influencer marketing platforms, which calculate this for you. Another option is to conduct the analysis yourself.

If you’re researching benchmarks by yourself, be sure to keep these three aspects in mind as they could affect the averages:

  • Category of content (e.g. beauty, fashion, sports)
  • Social networks (TikTok, Instagram, etc.)
  • The type of influencer (mega influencer, micro influencer KOL*, etc.)

A KOL (also known as a key opinion leader), is an individual who’s highly appreciated in their field, on as well as off on social media. One example of an example of a KOL is Oprah. Since the influence of a KOL isn’t restricted to social media, engagement shouldn’t be the final determining factor on whether or not you should collaborate with them. Oprah for instance has a low rate of engagement on Instagram, but has an enormous amount of influence beyond the network.


Engagement rate is a crucial metric to consider in your analysis of influencers. It allows you to identify influencers that have a strong connection with their fans. And in collaborations, it is possible for the influencer to leverage that relationship to help your company make an excellent first impression to their fans.

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