Why and How to Calculate Engagement Rate for Instagram

What is your engagement rate on Instagram?

Why is it important?

Here are the answers.

Engagement rate in influencer marketing is used to measure the level of interaction an influencer receives on their content.

In English please...

Simply, it is the percentage of the account’s audience that responds to the content published. There are many companies using Instagram. There are also influencers monetising their Instapopularity by sponsoring brands and products.

I spent some years working for Chile's tourism board. We used to invite influencers to visit Chile. After all, they would share their experience with thousands and sometimes millions of followers when they posted on Instagram.

Selecting influencers, however, is not always that straight forward. Logic would imply that the bigger their follower numbers are, the better. Well... it so happens that many people want free trips to Chile.

When you look at Instagram accounts do not just trust the numbers. Check out the posts. If you see there is a large number of followers but posts are getting proportionally low numbers of likes and comments. Yeah... it's fishy.

If you’re calculating engagement rates to make decisions regarding influencer marketing or potential partnerships, it’s important to make sure that the numbers you’re measuring aren’t artificially manipulated.

Typical example of what an unexplained Follower growth spike usually looks like this.

And then there are the bot-managed accounts some use to grow their Instagram accounts.

To spot them check their comments. They typically leave inauthentic comments like the ones below.

So be aware that there are sneaky influencers that try to artificially raise engagement rates so that marketers buy them trips to Chile. Do not be fooled. My advice is that if you get a strange feeling more often than not, there is something wrong. Trust your instinct.

At Swap Agency we use our very own engagement rate calculator. We continuously track engagement rates for our clients and influencers we partner with. By counting the amount of followers, likes and comments on a single post or an entire account you can get an average engagement rate.

Here's the formula you should apply if you want to calculate engagement rate on Instagram:

(Likes + Comments) divided by Followers and then multiplied by 100%

You can also count your likes, comments and followers and let the Swap Agency Calculator give you the result (hint, sign up to our newsletter to get access to the calculator).

In summary, as an industry standard, an engagement rate on Instagram between 1% and 3% is generally good, it is the average we see on an influencer's profile. If the engagement rate is higher than 3%, that is a good sign that their audience is very engaged with their content, and if it is below 1%, it means their audience as a whole is not very engaged with their content.

However the 1%-3% average is a global average for all instagram accounts. If we take the average engagement rate for accounts considering their size the numbers change.  

Yeah, that's right. Not all accounts are equal on Instagram. Smaller accounts should in general have higher engagement rates then larger ones. So if you are comparing an accounts engagement rate make sure you use the graph below.

Notice that Instagram accounts below 50k should have an engagement rate closer to 6%!

So why is engagement rate more important than reach?

Allow me to explain by way of example.

Lets say you decide to run a campaign and prepare a brief for a range of influencers. An influencer with 200,000 followers may charge you CHF 2,000 per post. This influencer has an engagement rate of 1.5%. This means you will receive approximately 3,000 interactions per post at a cost of CHF 0.67 per engagement.

Whereas, an influencer with only 10,000 followers may charge you CHF 750 per post but have a high level of engagement at 18.5%. This means you should expect to receive approximately 1,850 interactions at an average cost of only CHF 0.40 per engagement.

Did I make my point? It can be more effective and cheaper to hire influencers by engagement rate than by only considering their reach.

So when you are deciding what influencer to work with, or comparing a instagram accounts, make sure you consider engagement rate. It's an important metric to consider and should not be ignored when choosing influencers for any marketing campaign. 


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