What is Engagement Rate and Why Is it Important?


If you’ve ever dipped your toes into the influencer marketing waters, chances are you’ve heard about engagement rate. This metric is one of the most important to keep in mind when you have to find influencers for your marketing campaigns.

But what exactly is engagement rate? And why is it so important? In this article we’ll break down all you need to know about engagement rate.

What is engagement rate?

Engagement rate is a performance-driven metric that measures the level of interaction between an influencer and their followers.

We can calculate engagement by using the following formula: add up all the interactions* for a post, divide it by the number of followers, and then multiply that number by 100. This gives you the engagement rate for that specific post. To see the influencer’s average engagement rate, calculate the engagement for a group of posts and take the average of that group.

Interactions, sometimes also called engagements, vary a bit depending on the social network in question. But some examples are: likes, comments, retweets, etc.

Why is it important?

Contrary to popular belief, the number of followers isn’t always the most important factor when evaluating influencers for marketing campaigns. Influencers can easily buy followers. These are bots, and don’t care in the slightest about your marketing efforts.

Moreover, some famous influencers have followers who are really only interested in their famous name, and not necessarily engaged with their content. They have millions of followers, but only a portion of those are genuinely interested in their content. Therefore, it’s important to look at engagement rate, too.

When an influencer has a high engagement rate, it shows that their followers enjoy and trust their content. For brands, this is a good thing. If followers trust an influencer, they’re more likely to trust brands promoted by that influencer.

What’s considered a good engagement rate?

Good engagement rate depends heavily on two factors: (1) the social network you’re evaluating; (2) the number of followers an influencer has.

First, each social network has a slightly different way for followers to engage with influencer content. Therefore, we can’t compare the engagement rates of Instagram influencers with those of Youtube or TikTok.

Second, as an influencer’s number of followers go up, their engagement rate tends to go down. So, it would be unfair to compare the engagement of an Instagram influencer who has 10K followers to one who has 100K. Instead, we have to compare a specific influencer’s engagement against other influencers in that same influencer tier.

In order to do this, you need to know the industry averages for the social network and follower tier you’re analyzing. While you can search for these manually, it’s much easier to use an influencer marketing platform. With this type of tool, AI automatically compares the influencer’s engagement rate to the average of their peers.

An engagement rate analysis from an influencer marketing platform. Source: Heepsy.

What about extreme engagement rate?

Extreme engagement is bad on either end of the spectrum. Let’s look at why.

If an influencer’s engagement rate is very low, this means one of two things. It could be that sadly, their content just isn’t interesting. Or, it could be that they bought fake followers. These bots don’t usually like or comment on content. So while they ‘help’ follower count, they actually hurt engagement rate.

An influencer marketing platform will tell you when an influencer’s engagement is very low. Source: Heepsy.

On the other hand, if an influencer has extremely high engagement, they could have purchased fake engagement. Yes, influencers can buy likes and comments, too. These are a way to pump up engagement, but as they are not coming from real, engaged people, they are of no use to marketers.

An influencer marketing platform will also warn you when it thinks an engagement rate is too good to be true. Source: Heepsy.

Where do I go from here?

If you are looking for influencers to collaborate with on social media, consider nano and micro influencers. Nano influencers have between 1-5K followers, and micro influencers have 5-50K followers. This may seem like a relatively low amount of followers when compared to other influencers.

But, nano and micro influencers have the highest average engagement rates in the influencer industry. Moreover, they’re the most affordable type of influencer to hire for your campaign. Just make sure that whenever you want to find influencers, make sure they align with your brand, its mission, and values.