At PMYB, we know that the majority of our readers are well versed on the benefits of influencer marketing. We also know that most of you see right through vanity metrics, like the number of followers somebody has on a particular social platform. Yes, follower count is important but it’s only one of the many factors you should consider when choosing what influencers you want to work with. Too many businesses have been burnt by chasing after “influencers” with high numbers of followers. On the surface, high influencer engagement rates tend to give a better indication of influence.

However, things are not as simple as that. What is a good influencer engagement rate when so-called ‘influencers’ are able to artificially manipulate them? Even once you discover how much genuine engagement an influencer has, there are so many other factors that could contribute to the effectiveness of your influencer.

An in-depth Chromo-Analysis is essential to separate the real influencers from the fakes.

When you do identify someone of influence, however, how do their engagement rates differ from the average everyday person who engages on social media, like you or I? We investigated.


They’re Not an Influencer if their Followers Don’t Act

The name says it all. When it comes down to it, an influencer is somebody with sufficient clout to influence the views and actions of his or her followers.  Influencers are of no value to you unless they can positively influence their followers’ feelings about your product or brand.

It takes far more than high follower numbers or engagement rate to make someone an influencer. An influencer has to spend time engaging with his or her audience. That’s usually a two-way process. There has to be sufficient synergy between somebody popular online and his / her audience to be able to label that person as an influencer.

Some of the worst cases occur when a company decides to work with an influencer that is not right for their brand. Usually, the influencer makes a post on behalf of the brand that doesn’t resonate in any way with his or her audience.  They simply just ignore them and aren’t impacted by them.


Increasing Consumer Engagement

According to a report by Thunderhead, only one in four firms feels confident in their customer engagement methods. This is one of the main reasons why businesses use influencer marketing – influencers are able to majorly increase brand-consumer engagement.

Influencer engagement is merely the social engagement of posts by people who are considered to be influential. This means that influencer engagement rates should be higher than the engagement rates of everyday people.

The definition of engagement does differ by social network. In general, though, you can calculate an average engagement rate by:

Average Engagement Rate Per Post = Total Engagement / Follower Counts / Number of Posts x 100

Influencer engagement rate is different for each platform. Typically the most effective influencers have higher engagement rates. However, you do need to be careful because so many influencers are able to automate their engagement using bot farms. Read more on how to avoid the issue here.

Engagement Stats for Facebook

Engagement on Facebook is defined by somebody performing an action on your Facebook page or account. Facebook Insights defines engagement as being post clicks, likes, shares and comments. Absolute Engagement refers to the raw numbers- your post received 22 likes, for instance.

A Facebook Engagement Rate compares the Absolute Rate of Engagement to the number of followers somebody has.

To complicate things, not all engagement is considered equal. Some engagement is designated “active” – people have to think before they make the engagement. Active engagement typically includes likes, comments and shares. Other engagement is considered “passive” – people often give this engagement relatively mindlessly – for example, post clicks, link clicks, video views and image clicks.

Passive engagement indicates the consumption of content. Active engagement is a better indication of how shareworthy an item of content is.

To work out the engagement rate for a Facebook page people tend to use Page Likes in place of Followers in the calculation.

An engagement rate of 1% or higher on Facebook is often good. Even well-known companies can have surprisingly low rates. Air New Zealand, for instance, has 677,000 people liking their page but has an engagement rate of just 0.1%.

Influencers should have a better rate than either everyday people or most company pages.

RivalIQ’s 2018 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report indicates that engagement rates on Facebook vary greatly by industry/niche. They found that the average engagement rate on Facebook was only 0.16%. However, across different sectors average engagement was:

  • Food and Beverage – 0.24%
  • Hotels & Resorts – 0.21%
  • Higher Ed – 0.19%
  • Sports Teams – 0.19%
  • Non Profits – 0.17%
  • Home Décor 0.11%
  • Fashion – 0.10%
  • Health & Beauty – 0.10%
  • Media – 0.08%

They found that influencers matched the food and beverage sector, with a 0.24% average – considerably below the 1% that most other pundits consider a good Facebook influencer engagement rate.

Engagement Stats for Instagram

Instagram is a lot more engaged than Facebook or Twitter. When conducting influencer campaigns you should look out for the following numbers when factoring influencer engagement rates:

  • Less than 1% signifies low engagement
  • 1% – 3.5% indicates average to good engagement
  • 5-7% signposts high engagement
  • Greater than 7% is a very high engagement rate

Anybody whose engagement rate is less than 1% on Instagram can hardly be considered to be influencing their followers. The median engagement rate on Instagram in 2017 was 2.7% (according to Iconsquare’s Instagram Marketing Trends & Benchmarks for 2018). If so, your influencers should have a higher engagement rate than that.

RivalIQ’s 2018 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report finds differently, however. They found that the median engagement rate per post on Instagram across all industries is just 1.73%. Crucially, though, they found that the average engagement rate per post for influencers on Instagram was 1.87% – not that much higher than for the ordinary person. They found that influencers performed best when they shared Carousel and Photo posts on Instagram, in preference to video posts.

A report found that the average engagement rate for somebody with fewer than 2,000 followers was 10.7%. This dropped to 6.0% for those with 2,000 to 5,000 followers, 4.9% for those with between 5,000 and 10,000 followers, and 3.6% for those with 10,000 to 25,000 followers. Numbers continue to drop for those with higher followings, averaging just 1.5% for superstars with greater than 1 million followers.

Engagement Stats for Twitter

People tend to make more tweets on Twitter every day than they do posts on other social networks. Many tweets go virtually unnoticed, even those from popular influencers. Most people receive far more tweets in a typical day than they could ever look at, never mind engage with. This means that engagement rates are consistently lower on Twitter, including the Average Influencer Engagement Rate.

The numbers calculated seem particularly low, certainly compared to the engagement rates calculated internally by Twitter Analytics:

  • Less than 0.02% shows low engagement
  • 02 – 0.09% is good engagement
  • 09 – 0.33 shows high engagement
  • Greater than 0.33% is a very high engagement

The variation between these figures and the figures provided by Twitter Analytics may reflect the fact that Twitter uses a wider definition of engagement. They consider engagement to be a click on any of the following: retweets, replies, follows, favourites, links, cards, hashtags, embedded media, username, profile photo, and tweet expansion.

Audience Genuine Engagement

Too many “influencers” don’t actually influence their followers’ behaviour. They cheat the system in some way to appear more important than they actually are. Sure, there will probably always be less engagement on #sponsored  or #ad posts than on their niche-related posts. But as a whole, genuine influencers interact and engage with their followers.

Effective influencers don’t just make a sponsored post and then ignore it. They spark conversations and drive meaningful comments from their fans whilst giving appropriate calls-to-action.

For example, look at the following post by Rosie Londoner. She makes a comment about her purple coat (and points out the link in her bio where people can buy the coat). This encouraged 168 people to comment, mainly discussing how much they love her and how much they actually like the coat.

Fake Engagement Skews Engagement Rates

We previously looked at how some influencers appear to have more followers than they really do. They cheat by purchasing followers. This boosts their follower count, but does little to help their engagement rate, and can actually make it worse.

The other problem you may face is fake engagement. Some “influencers” have tried to make themselves look busier than they really are, using fake engagement services, such as Instagress, to artificially boost their engagement numbers. Instagress may now be closed, but other sites still offer phoney engagement services.

When evaluating an influencer’s profile you want to ensure that there is a real conversation happening between the influencer and his/her community.

No matter what social network you are analysing, you want social conversations to sound like they involve real people. Comments should refer to what’s going on in the post or at least to the broader context of the influencer’s account.

Big accounts will attract some spam, but they should not be an undue proportion of the influencer’s followers.

Unilever is one brand that has spotted the problem with using so-called influencers who buy fake followers and engagement. They took a stand and cancelled their relationships with any fake celebrity influencers they found who engaged in such unethical practices.

Chromo-Influencers™ Genuinely Influence Their Followers

During our early days in the industry, we conducted an informal survey of 200 influencers. 63% of them admitted to purchasing followers, likes or swapping comments with each other. It was at that point that we knew there had to be a better way.

It was due to this doubt about the validity of so-called influencer’s self-fabricated engagement rates that PMYB initially began our mission to discover Chromo-Influencers.

Contact us here today to learn more about how Chromo-Influencers can help you assist you in your campaign.


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