How-to Understand Engagement Rates
Ask any influencer who’s done a lot of collaborations what their engagement rate is, and they will know it off the top of their head. Engagement rates on Instagram and other platforms are becoming the second most important statistic next to follower count.
An engagement rate is simply the total number of engagements (likes + comments) your posts get on average divided by your current follower count. Obviously, these numbers are a moving target as your follower count, likes, and comments change over time. People tend to use the last 30-60 days of your content as the benchmark (at influence.co we use the last 45 days).
Generally, people ignore video views (as the marketing industry works with video views in a different way) and double counting likes and comments (e.g. someone who does both) is allowed to keep the math simple and quick.
If you have a post with 100 likes and 20 comments, you have 120 engagements on that post. If you currently have 10,000 followers, your engagement rate is 120 / 10,000 = 1.2%. Putting it another way, if you post something, you can expect 1.2% of your audience to interact with your post somehow. Don’t worry, this does not mean only 1.2% of your audience sees your post, it simply describes how many of them took an action (liked or commented) because they thought the content was so good. Some folks will include post saves in the engagement numbers too but usually the number of post saves is tiny compared to the number of likes.
So what is a good engagement rate? We can assure you that engagement rates are not an exact science. That said, the industry has come to some basic understanding of what is good, bad, and ugly when it comes to engagement rates.
Keep in mind, as you have a bigger and bigger audience, it is harder to maintain high engagement rates as your audience is much broader and less personally familiar with you. If you have an Instagram account with only 10 followers and they are all family members, it’s likely they will like and comment on everything and your engagement rate will be 60-100% for each post. But an influencer with 2M followers and still a 1% engagement rate is doing way better than an influencer with 5000 followers and only 1% engagement rate. So these guidelines are dependent a bit on your reach.
For an interactive exploration of engagement rates from our community, please see HERE.
- Less than 0.5%: Horrible engagement. Usually represents an account with fake or purchased followers or a very large audience who’s mostly lurking (e.g. NSFW content where people would be embarrassed to comment or like). Brands tend to avoid these accounts at all costs.
- 0.5% - 1%: Poor engagement. Usually represents really big audiences where most people are lurkers or an account with poor content that is heavily promotional (e.g. a nightclub’s Instagram where every post is about which DJ is playing that night) or highly diffuse in theme. Brands will only work with this engagement rate for very large accounts.
- 1%-1.5%: OK. Not good but not bad. If a brand has a choice of two accounts with other metrics being equal (follower count, rate, category) they will tend to avoid this range. Usually reflects poorly thought out grids, mediocre photography, or highly varied subject matter.
- 1.5%-3%: Fine. Brands will generally accept engagement rates in this range without question and focus on other items such as aesthetic fit, rates, and audience size in their decision process.
- 3-5%: Great. Highly engaged followers due to excellent content, highly responsive owner of the account, excellent photography,r aesthetics. Brands tend to overpay for posts on accounts with this engagement rate.
- 5-8%: Excellent. Everything about this account is working well from aesthetics, to content focus, to photography, to the influencer’s engagement with their audience. Brands love to work with these accounts as their audience really listens to the recommendations they make.
- 8%+: Rare. These accounts, especially with bigger follower counts are rare and usually reflect superior photography or an account owner with a level of celebrity that engenders such engagement. Brands pay top dollar to be on these accounts but these account owners rarely do collaborations.
As you can see, engagement rate factors into a lot of decisions and brands have learned over time how to interpret them. The single biggest way to improve your chances of being a successful influencer is to increase your engagement rate.