Influencer Engagement Rates on Social Media Platforms

Written by Ioana Irimescu

May 26, 2022

The Global Influencer Marketing value reached $13.8 billion in 2021, with brands investing up to 40% of their marketing budgets in influencer marketing strategies collaborating with up to 1.000 influencers across online and offline channels (Statista, 2022, 2021). More and more brands are embracing the benefits and value of working with influencers. Marketers are recording increased brand exposure and traffic, a loyal customer base, and improved sales results from influencer marketing campaigns.  

As social media platforms like Instagram, Tiktok, and YouTube evolve and introduce more features, the number of influencers is also increasing, providing more opportunities and challenges for brands. Thoroughly debated and heavily discussed, influencer engagement rates are a decisive factor for brands when selecting influencers. One thing is clear: the number of followers impacts engagement rates. Not only do engagement rates vary and depend on the influencer category and social media platform, but they also decrease with the number of followers. The fewer followers an influencer has, the higher the engagement rate. 

One thing is clear: the number of followers impacts engagement rates. The engagement rate decreases as the number of followers increases. The less followers an influencer has, the higher the engagement rate. The more followers the influencer gets, the lower the engagement rate.

What are engagement rates?  

The engagement rate is a metric or KPI that measures the total number of interactions an influencer account or post receives in relation to the number of followers, indicating the interest of the audience. That is, how many users or what percentage of the audience is engaged and interested in the content shared by the influencer. The interaction options that make up the engagement rate depend on the social media platform and include likes, comments, shares and saves. The more engaged the audience is with the influencer’s content and the social media platform, the higher the engagement rate of the influencer account. Surprisingly, a higher follower count doesn’t necessarily mean a higher engagement rate. Influencers with a higher number of followers usually have a lower engagement rate. 

Why do influencer engagement rates matter? 

As an indicator of audience interest, engagement rates are important because they help brands develop the influencer strategy, including selecting influencers and social media platforms to achieve brand objectives, as well as measuring the campaign performance. For instance, a high engagement rate means the influencer has a stronger, more meaningful relationship with their followers, a loyal community, and ultimately high influencing power, which in turn drives conversion and awareness. In addition, the influencer’s potential reach is higher, which means that the content is shown to a larger audience and therefore reaching more people. Higher engagement boosts reach, especially on the Instagram platform. However, having a lower engagement rate does not necessarily signal a warning bell and a lack of strong community, as it is influenced by the influencer category, number of followers and the algorithm of the platform.  

Influencer Engagement Rates Across Social Media Platforms 

Research emphasizes the fact that influencer engagement rates vary from platform to platform and depend on the influencer category. Nano Influencers on TikTok are leading the way, having the highest engagement rate of 17,69% on the platform, followed by Instagram and YouTube.

To simplify the process, at TERRITORYInfluence we divide influencers into 4 different categories according to the following count on social media platforms: Nano, Micro, Macro and Star Influencers. Each influencer group has a different engagement rate depending on the number of followers, social media platform and interactions.  

From the platform perspective, TikTok generates the highest engagement rate across all 4 influencer categories, followed by Instagram. On the other hand, Youtube has the lowest engagement rate.  
 
From the influencer perspective, Nano-influencers have the highest engagement rate across all 3 social media platforms, Instagram, TikTok and Youtube, followed by Micro and Macro and ultimately, Star Influencers.  
 
With up to 1.000 followers, Nano-influencers not only have the best performance in terms of engagement and reach, but they’re also the most sought-after category for brand collaborations due to their high engagement and reach across all platforms, loyal audience and authentic content. The higher the engagement, the stronger the bond between the influencer and their followers, and the higher the sales conversion rate. In the last year, 90% of marketers invested in influencer marketing campaigns, with 76% of marketers collaborating with Nano-influencers.
 
Despite a higher number of followers compared to Nano-Influencers, Micro-influencers also have a high engagement rate on TikTok and Instagram. Macro and Star Influencers have significantly higher engagement rates on TikTok, 6.67% and 4.96%, respectively, compared to Instagram and YouTube. 

Why do engagement rate vary? 

On another note, influencer engagement rates are not set in stone, and vary from one influencer type to another. In general, Nano and Micro influencers have higher engagement rates than Macro and Star influencers. However, the engagement rates can increase or decrease depending on 8 factors: number of interactions and behaviour of followers, content quality and type, influencer activity and industry, platform concept and algorithm.

The more interactions an influencer receives from the audience, followers or non-followers, such as likes, comments, saves and shares, the higher the engagement rate. Moreover, followers not always have the same behaviour across social media. Silent followers scroll through the platform and rarely engage with the influencer, while active followers tend to like, comment, share and reply to stories on a daily basis. If the influencer has more active followers, the engagement rate will go up. Furthermore, even if the content shared by the influencer is high-quality and authentic, organic posts usually generate higher engagement long-term, while sponsored content triggers higher reach and engagement short-term. Also, the more active, consistent the influencer is on the platform in terms of posting, replying to messages and interacting with fellow user’s account, the higher the engagement rate.  In addition, certain industries such as Beauty, Fashion, and Personal Care are more popular and in higher demand on social media platforms, which means that they offer higher engagement, exposure and but a bigger community of people interested in these products. Regardless of the category, Influencers in these industries will not only have a higher number of followers, but also a more likely higher engagement rate.  

Nonetheless,  while influencer category and relevant engagement rates are a great indicator of performance, brands should not use them as a detrimental factor when selecting influencers for their campaigns. Instead, the engagement rates in line with the 8 factors, objectives of the brand and influencer type should be considered to ensure a successful campaign. Sometimes, activating different categories of influencers instead of one category can trigger higher engagement and reach. For instance, by activating all 4 types of influencers (Nano, Micro, Macro and Star), Ravensburger, a toy brand, generated an engagement rate of 25% across 3 social media platforms (Instagra, TikTok, and Youtube). Moreover, Micro and Macro Influencers generated a higher engagement rate of 14% compared to Nano and Star Influencers. Likewise, Café Royal activated Macro and Star influencers across Instgram, recording an engagement rate of 13.4% and 1 million reach.  

5 Reminders for Marketers about Engagement Rates

  • Engagement rates are impacted by the number of followers 
  • The lower the number of followers, the higher the engagement rate 
  • The higher the number of followers, the lower the engagement rate 
  • Higher engagement drives reach  
  • Nano-influencers on TikTok and Instagram have the highest engagement rate