Instagram influencer engagement hovers near all-time lows

Brief:

  • Instagram influencers have seen their engagement rates hover near all-time lows as the Facebook-owned app becomes over-crowded with sponsored posts, per a study that analytics firm InfluencerDB shared with Mobile Marketer. The engagement rate for sponsored posts fell to 2.4% in Q1 2019 from 4% three years earlier, while the rate for non-sponsored posts slid to 1.9% from 4.5% for the comparable periods.
  • The engagement rate for Instagram influencers with at least 10,000 followers is steady at about 3.6% worldwide. Influencers with 5,000 to 10,000 followers have an engagement rate of 6.3% and those with a following of 1,000 to 5,000 have the highest rate at 8.8%, per InfluencerDB.
  • The engagement rate for every industry category of influencer has declined in the past year. Travel influencers, who typically have the highest engagement rates, have seen an average drop to 4.5% this year from 8% in 2018. InfluencerDB also observed declines for influencers in beauty, fashion, food, lifestyle and sports and fitness. The firm measures engagement with a “like follower ratio,” or the average number of likes on each Instagram post compared to the number of followers.

Insight:

The declining engagement rates for Instagram influencers, as measured by InfluencerDB, indicate several trends that mobile marketers need to consider when embarking on a social influencer campaign. The good news is that sponsored posts tend to generate higher engagement than non-sponsored posts, likely because influencers put more effort into creating high-quality posts when they’re being sponsored and because Instagram’s algorithms give higher precedence to sponsored posts, per InfluencerDB.

The bad news is that engagement rates for influencer content are declining as Instagram feeds get cluttered with sponsored posts. While influencers with more than 10,000 followers may help to reach a broader audience, marketers may see better engagement by working with multiple “nano-influencers” who have a smaller reach among highly dedicated followers. The average number of influencers used in a campaign is 726, according to a separate study by InfluencerDB, indicating that marketers are working with nano-influencers to build scale among a wider group of Instagram users. However, the sheer number of sponsored posts may be decreasing their overall engagement effectiveness.

The travel industry appears to be underinvested in influencer marketing compared to other areas, despite the high engagement rates for travel influencers specifically. Travel influencers make up 5% of Instagram’s total sponsored posts, behind other categories such as fashion (25%), food (12%) and beauty (7%), per InfluencerDB. Some travel brands are investing in the platform: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in the past year has boosted its influencer marketing efforts with its Kimpton Stay Human Project. The boutique chain has transformed guest rooms into “Instagrammable spaces” that urge sharing of pictures on social media.

Despite the changes to influencer engagement rates, Instagram is still committed to the ecosystem. The platform last month debuted a feature that lets advertisers turn influencer posts into paid ads that can reach a wider audience.

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