Written by Emily Polner

Follower count may be the most widely-known influencer marketing metric, but it’s not necessarily the most important one. If you’re hiring influencers for sponsored campaigns, you’ll want to look beyond the hundreds of thousands of followers and dig deeper. An influencer’s engagement rate is a key part of casting and bringing home the best ROI.

What is engagement rate?

Engagement rate for a single Instagram post is calculated by adding the number of comments and likes to get the total amount of engagement, then divide that total by the account’s number of followers, and multiply that result by 100.

Calculating the average amount of engagement per post has you take the number of likes and comments and divide it by the number of posts. 

To find the engagement rate of an influencer, take the average engagement per post, divide it by the number of followers the influencer has, then multiply that number by 100.

However, most influencers calculate their engagement rates using a month’s worth of posts. To do this, add up the total amount of comments and likes on each post and divide that number by the number of posts you are looking at. That’s the average amount of engagement per post. Once you have the average, you can divide that number by the influencer’s follower count and multiply that result by 100. 

Alternatively, some engagement rates are calculated using number of impressions instead of the number of followers. This is less common, though, because it requires internal data from the account in question.

What is the industry standard of engagement rate?

While engagement rates vary across verticals, here are general industry standards as a guideline:

Below 1%: very low
1%-3%: average
3%-6%: high
Above 6%: very high

For more details on engagement rates for your specific industry, see RivalIQ’s examination of 600,000 Instagram posts across 12 different verticals.

Why engagement rate is important

A high engagement rate is a signal of trust, loyalty, and closeness. These qualities are extremely valuable, meaningful, and hard to cultivate. The relationship between an influencer and their followers is important to consider for both conversion and awareness driven campaigns. For conversion campaigns, an influencer with a high engagement rate may have a higher chance of success at exceeding revenue targets. 

For awareness campaigns, engagement rate is crucial because it affects the reach of an Instagram post. The current algorithm favors and rewards posts with high engagement by distributing them more widely and to the top of more feeds throughout the platform. The higher the engagement, the wider the reach.

Bottom line: an influencer with fewer followers but a high engagement rate may in fact be reaching more people than a larger influencer, all thanks to Instagram’s algorithm. Not only that, there is a bigger chance that more of their followers will convert, thanks to a stronger, deeper, and more meaningful relationship.

How to find influencers with high engagement rates

Since engagement rates aren’t publicly displayed, it can be time-consuming to find influencers who fit the bill. Your best bet for finding influencers with the highest engagement rate is to look at nano and micro influencers (1,000 – 100,000 followers). Be sure to vet each influencer’s engagement and following to make sure it’s genuine using follower health and history tools.

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