Estimates currently peg global revenues for influencer marketing at somewhere between $2.38 billion to $10 billion. Yes, it’s a dramatic range. But regardless of where the actual number lies, it’s a monstrous sum for an industry that essentially didn’t exist 10 years ago and shows that marketers are engaging it with a lot of cash.

But who is all that cash going to? With unestablished metrics, seemingly thousands of agencies, and a rising class of creators who are willing to do a lot of things to make some dough, it can be a bit tricky for marketers to decipher exactly who they should work with — and what constitutes a successful campaign. Many brands may be clamoring to score relationships with superstar influencers, but they could be overlooking the chance for better engagement with lesser-known creators who actually have more relative clout. 

With all that in mind, it’s important to understand what engagement rates are realistic for creators with different audience sizes and across the different social platforms. Below, we share some insights around this courtesy of CreatorIQ, an influencer platform that helps companies run brand ambassador campaigns with content creators.

Note that when calculating the engagement rates below, CreatorIQ considered over 200,000 campaign posts across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter from Q1 2016 through the present. And here are the data points considered in the calculations for each platform: 

  • Instagram: Likes, comments and followers at time of post
  • YouTube: Likes, comments, shares and video views at time of analysis
  • Facebook: Reactions, comments, shares and followers at time of post
  • Twitter: Likes, replies, retweets and followers at time of post

CreatorIQ examined four types of influencers based on audience size: nano (1K-10K followers), micro (10K-100K), medium (100K-1M) and mega (1M+), and looked at average engagement rates across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

One may assume that mega creators — those household celebrity names — would consistently win out with engagement. After all, they’re superstars for a reason, right? And some people may believe engagement rates of 2-3% could be dismissed as dismal when in fact, those are generally quite good.

In reality, nano influencers consistently had better engagement rates across all platforms with averages of 0.17% (Twitter), 0.42% (Facebook), 4.4% (Instagram) and 6.7% (YouTube). This makes a certain amount of sense upon reflection because their audiences are often more attentive and engaged. Average engagement rates from mega-influencers hover around 0.008% (Twitter), 0.01% (Facebook), 0.7% (Instagram) and 4% (YouTube).

Platforms also need to be taken into account when evaluating engagement rates: across all influencer groups, Twitter and Facebook have the lowest rate while YouTube and Instagram perform better.

Content type matters, too. It’s a well-known fact that visuals usually outperform text-only posts, but you also have to take into account what platform is being used. And as it turns out, video isn’t always king: For Facebook and Instagram, image posts performed better than those with videos.

One thing is also clear from all this data: YouTube consistently has the best engagement based on CreatorIQ’s methodology across all influencer groups.

Perhaps some type of standard metrics will surface as a means to evaluate the efficacy of campaigns as influencer marketing evolves from its nascent stages into adolescence. Until then, hopefully the numbers above will help you quantify what’s performing well and what isn’t.

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