When we measure an influencer’s success, we tend to think about their number of followers. The more followers, the more successful. Because of this, the Internet is full of strategies for Instagram influencers to get more followers, or for Youtube influencers to up their subscribers.

And while follower count is definitely an important metric in influencer marketing, it’s not the be-all and end-all of what it means to be a successful influencer. There’s another metric that matters just as much, if not more: engagement rate.

What is engagement?

Engagement rate is the level of interaction between an influencer and their audience. It’s measured differently on each social network. For example, on Instagram, we measure engagement as likes and comments. But on Youtube, it’s measured in likes, dislikes, and comments.

Basically, engagement rate shows how interested an influencer’s followers are in their content. If followers trust the influencer, they’re more likely to engage with content. Influencers can build trust in various ways, including quality content, consistency, and managing their social community. 

You can calculate engagement in two ways. You can do it manually, dividing the total number of interactions by the number of followers and multiplying by 100. But a more efficient way is to use an influencer marketing platform. This type of software will calculate engagement for you, and compare influencers to their peers so you get the big picture.

What’s considered good engagement?

Engagement rate varies based on two primary factors: the social network and the number of followers an influencer has. 

First, each social network is different and offers different ways to interact with content. Therefore, engagement rate will be calculated a bit differently and the average rates will be different network to network.

Second, as followers increase, engagement generally decreases. You can’t compare the engagement rates of an influencer who has 10K followers and another who has 10M. That’s why nano and micro influencers have the highest engagement rates of all influencers.

So how do you know what’s the average engagement rate for the network and follower range that you’re looking at? You can find some benchmarks online. Or use an influencer marketing platform, which will measure and analyze it for you.

@carlotaweberm has very high engagement for someone in her follower range, as seen on influencer marketing platform Heepsy.

Can engagement be too low, or too high?

Yes and yes.

If engagement is very low, there could be two reasons for this. One, the influencer may not produce content that their audience finds interesting. Or, they may have purchased fake followers. Fake followers may boost their follower count, but they don’t usually increase engagement.

On the other hand, if engagement is extremely high, it could signal fake likes and/or comments. Influencers can buy these to falsify their engagement rates. An influencer marketing platform will suggest when engagement looks suspiciously high. You should also take a look directly at the influencer’s profile and see if the “people” liking or commenting on their content actually appear to be real people or bots.

How can engagement be used in influencer campaigns?

Prioritize engagement from the beginning of your influencer search. The best way to do this is with an influencer marketing platform that lets you search according to engagement. The software can also analyze an influencer’s branded content, to tell you the average engagement on those posts, too. This way, you can get a sense of how their content has performed in past collaborations with other brands.

Additionally, consider using nano and micro influencers in your campaigns. They may have fewer followers when compared to top influencers. But, as we said earlier, they have the highest average engagement rates. Their authenticity and laser-focused audiences make them valuable allies in influencer campaigns.  Moreover, they’re cheaper to hire than other influencers with larger followings. These two factors combined means a better ROI for your brand.

Conclusion

Engagement is deservedly an important metric when choosing influencers for marketing campaigns. That being said, engagement alone isn’t enough to make the decision. It’s also important you find an influencer who aligns with your brand’s core message and visual identity. When selecting influencers, always keep your campaign objectives in mind, and ask yourself: Can this person help me achieve my goals?