From Follower Counts to Engagement Rates: The Metrics that Matter in Influencer Marketing

From Follower Counts to Engagement Rates: The Metrics that Matter in Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is predicted to be worth a massive £840 million in the UK in 2023. This shows just how massive the industry has become in recent years, no longer being considered an ‘experiment’ by most brands – now being an established part of many marketing strategies. 

As the tool continues to become more common, we are also seeing a shift in how it is approached. In this article, we explore how brands are changing how they measure the success of influencers and their campaigns.

The Follower Count Debate


…a notification hits your phone screen. It’s a new follower on Instagram.

Woohoo. You get a warm fuzzy feeling.

Of course, getting a new follower feels great. Someone likes your content enough to follow you.

But does the number of people following your account really matter?

The answer: not really.

After all, a follow doesn’t actually mean anything. It doesn’t mean that person is going to engage with yoru content or that they are going to buy a product or service from your brand. In fact, in many cases, a follow might be from a robot or someone following you in the hope of getting a follow back. …the exact same applies to influencers.

Just because an influencer has a large follower count doesn’t actually mean they have any influence over them…and isn’t that what matters here? Influence?

Historically brands and influencers have considered follower count king. It’s an easy connection to make:

More followers = greater reach

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this laser focus on followers led many ‘influencers’ to pay for fake follows on their accounts, turning influencer marketing into somewhat of a false economy.

Of course, a large follower count CAN be a positive sign, but only if that is paired with real influence. This is why many brands now consider follower count as just a small part of the equation when assessing influencer suitability.

Beyond Vanity Metrics

For the most part follower count can be considered a ‘vanity metric’. So called due to the fact that it makes you feel good, but doesn’t actually mean anything.

Brands and agencies now typically focus on ‘engagement metrics’ to assess influencer suitability and to measure influencer marketing campaign success. These are when a follower or other users engage with content in some way such as likes, comments and shares.

In influencer marketing, these metrics offer greater insight into how well content is truly performing and how well-received it is by the influencer audience.

Engagement Rate and Its Importance

Using engagement metrics you can calculate a piece of content’s engagement rate. This can be calculated in several different ways, but the most common is:

Total number of interactions / total number of followers x 100

So, for example, if an influencer has 5,000 followers on Instagram and posts an image that gets 300 likes and 15 comments, their engagement rate would be:

(300+15) / 5000 x 100 = 6.3%

Using this calculation makes it easy to assess and compare the content from different influencers, as well as measure the performance of all content within your influencer marketing campaigns.

Influencer Marketing Metrics: Summary

You may have heard the saying:

“You manage what you measure”

This is why it is so important to take time to decide which metrics you should focus on during your influencer campaigns. By shifting focus from vanity metrics such as follower count to performance-based metrics such as engagement rate you will give yourself a better understanding of which influencers are best suited to working with and how well their brand-specific content performs.

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