High engagements are a sure sign of a captive audience and a healthy social media campaign—two things every brand needs to tell their story effectively and ultimately drive sales.
Fortunately, there are some solutions for brands who feel they’re just launching their social posts out into the void.
In this blog, we’ll detail why social media engagement matters, how to improve it, how to involve influencer engagement, and how to turn single social wins into long-term success.
Why social media engagement matters
Social media post and video engagement helps you determine how well-connected you are to your audience. While your engagement rate does not guarantee ROI for your brand, it can help you in several ways, including:
- Measure social media growth over time.
- Improve posting frequency.
- Improve posting quality (using the right kind of posts the best way possible).
- Forecast web traffic originating from your Instagram account.
- Refine your paid Instagram strategy.
- Identify the right influencers to partner with your brand.
What counts as an engagement?
Engagements can vary from platform to platform. However, they generally occur any time a user interacts with a post. Here are some common examples:
- Post saves
- Link clicks
- Sticker taps
Engagement rate versus reach: What’s the difference?
Engagement rate measures the level of interaction with a post, while reach measures the size of the audience that saw it.
For example, a post with high reach but low engagement indicates that lots of people saw the content, but it failed to catch their attention. On the other hand, a post with a low reach but a high engagement rate might not have been seen by many people, but it resonated strongly with those who did.
How do you calculate engagement rate?
You can calculate engagement rate by dividing the total number of engagements on a post by the size of the audience that saw it. Then multiply your total by 100.
Engagement rate = (# of engagements / reach) x 100
You can also use the GRIN Web Extension to instantly calculate an account’s engagement rate while browsing social media.
Why influencers are key to increasing brand engagement
Consumers derive much of their brand perception from what a company says and how it says it. That means marketers must always pay close attention to how they portray the brand. Messaging needs to convey the brand’s mission and values so followers can understand and relate to them.
In today’s creator economy, marketers use social media creators as their brand storytellers to convey these messages successfully. By finding creators that align with their mission and values, brands can use that creator’s engaged following to connect emotionally with a target audience and influence buying decisions—especially among Gen Z and Millennial consumers.
But an influencer has to be authentic for their story (and yours) to resonate with audiences. That means the creator you choose to represent you must love your brand, use your products, and genuinely believe in both.
Image via eMarketer
Influencer engagement benchmarks by platform
Generally speaking, the higher an influencer’s engagement rate is, the better. But definitely don’t expect a celebrity influencer with 1 million followers to have as high an engagement rate as a micro influencer with a few thousand followers. The numbers will also fluctuate based on the platform.
Here is a look at what you should consider the ideal minimum engagement rate while vetting your next batch of creators:
How fake followers affect engagement rates
Always be vigilant about influencers with fake followers. A creator might have 10,000 followers, but they might as well be speaking into the void if most of their “fans” are bots. It also speaks to their character if they are willing to pay for their audience rather than accumulating it honestly.
A rule of thumb: If a creator’s engagement rate seems too good to be true, it probably is. There is a good chance that an influencer with an unusually high engagement rate artificially inflated their metric due to fake followers that do not interact with their content.
Influencer engagement trends to watch out for
A shift toward more ‘realness’
Creators know better than anyone that authenticity is key in the creator economy. Many have started peeling back the curtain to show what an actual day in the life looks like rather than staging a picture-perfect version of it. As a result, we’ve seen higher engagement rates for those who shift away from traditional beauty standards and toward showcasing their natural selves—blemishes and all.
Influencers leaving their silos
Influencers don’t have to be lone wolves. It’s becoming more common to see multiple influencers work together on branded content to tap into each other’s followers and expose their partnerships to new audiences. It can also increase engagement when popular influencers collaborate and generate extra buzz around a campaign.
If you’re looking for creators who work well with their peers, just watch out for influencer pods. Occasionally, groups of influencers will ham it up in each other’s comment section, inflating their engagement rate and making it seem like they have more loyal fans than they actually do.
The ‘edutainment’ era
@thenicolenieves 💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼How to have FUN with content creation again! // #socialmediamarketing #contentforsmallbusiness #contenthacks #marketyourbrand #contentideasforsocialmedia #contentips #contentplan #contentstrategycoach #personalbrandingcoach #onlinebusinesscoaches #onlineserviceproviders #edutainment #makesocialfunagain ♬ original sound – Nicole║ Marketing ✶ Biz Tips
Edutainment combines education and entertainment for more engaging content. There are plenty of creators out there we can learn a lot from. The trick is presenting it in a fun way that will make the key takeaway more memorable to the viewer. Edutainment content is especially helpful for capturing the attention of audiences with short attention spans.
Increasing social responsibility
@shainamunro Let me know if you want more of this! #sustainablefashion #sustainableswaps #ethicalclothing #sustainableinspo ♬ original sound – Shainamunro
More and more creators are beginning to use their platforms to make a positive impact. Whether promoting sustainable fashion brands or taking a stand for social justice issues, creators are eager to speak out. And people are listening. We’ve seen that when a creator aligns themself with a cause, their content resonates better with audiences and engagement rates increase.
Stronger emphasis on analytics
Most brands have caught on to the fact that follower count is not the end-all-be-all when recruiting influencers. As such, brands have prioritized tools that help them understand how well a creator engages with their audience.
And creators understand this, too. All it takes is a few minutes of browsing social media to realize that the most successful creators are taking out-of-the-box approaches to come up with original content that captures audiences’ attention.
11 steps to help improve influencer engagement
Communicate your goals clearly.
Gone are the days of posting an ad and praying the content gets in front of the right audience. Given the amount of time, effort, and resources you spend on your marketing, you need a well-defined strategy that helps you achieve the desired results. The first step towards this is to define your goals.
Next, you have to ensure you communicate these goals to your influencers. Provide them with detailed campaign briefs so that everyone is clear on expectations. Otherwise, you risk running a muddled campaign with everyone paddling in different directions.
Be aware of algorithm and policy changes.
Since your audience is on social media, your marketing team needs to be there too. Ensure your team understands the platforms and works out their strategy accordingly.
For example, Facebook changed its algorithm to make content more relevant to users. Fewer brand messages now appear on users’ feeds because Facebook prioritizes content shared by the people they know, like friends, family, and influencers they follow.
Developments like this make influencer marketing more crucial than ever. To engage with audiences more meaningfully, brands have to partner with authentic influencers who can help share content that resonates with target audiences.
Using relevant hashtags is still one of the most effective ways to increase your reach on Instagram posts. Websites like Hashtagify, RiteTag, and Iconosquare are solid resources to help find which popular hashtags might work best for your brand.
One common misconception is that more hashtags always means more reach. While Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags on a post, it’s not always wise to max out on every post.
The optimal number of hashtags to use depends on your following size. Ten or more hashtags work best for users with fewer than 1,000 followers, but the greater the following, the fewer hashtags you should use.
Make your campaigns locally relevant.
Local businesses should consider collaborating with popular local influencers first and foremost. Even if a nationally recognized celebrity or macro influencer is willing to promote your brand, a smaller local influencer might have more long-term success with a much smaller price tag. Local creators know how to talk to local audiences and appear far more authentic than someone unfamiliar with the area.
Leverage micro influencers.
Micro influencers have fewer followers but often make just as good, if not better, better partners than their larger counterparts.
Some of the most significant benefits of working with micro influencers are:
- Trust. Audiences trust micro influencers because they are more authentic. About 56% of social media users said they prefer to follow micro influencers over macro and celebrity influencers because they seem more like ordinary people.
- Affordability. The more followers a creator has, the more they will charge for branded content. Although influencer rates are rising across the board, working with micro influencers is still far more affordable than working with macro or celebrity influencers.
- Availability. The micro influencer market is getting larger as social media platforms continue to expand tools for creators.
Experiment with different content types.
Video content remains king when it comes to the most engaging content types. But there is no need for you and video to be exclusive.
Experiment with multiple content types to see which combination gives you the best results. For example, you might have your influencer film a piece of unboxing content and post a survey or poll afterward to gauge sentiment for the product.
Encourage user-generated content (UGC).
Audiences love an opportunity to share their own content on social media. Encourage your influencers to start a hashtag their fans can use to submit their own posts geared toward a specific campaign. You can even repurpose that content across your marketing mix. Just make sure you have all the necessary content rights first.
Provide creative freedom.
Influencers are inherently creative, so give them their freedom and don’t make the mistake of weighing them down with overly restrictive content guidelines.
When working with influencers, share your goals and overall vision but leave the rest to them. You can, of course, ask for a final review before the content is published (to make sure it suits your requirements).
If you really want to work on the content, you can talk to them and pass your ideas on. But leave the final decisions to them. Remember, creators know their audience and which buttons to push to get them excited about a product or service.
Optimize social media posts for search.
Hashtags are still a valuable tool for extending your reach and encouraging engagement, but don’t be surprised if they’re phased out in favor of search-optimized content.
TikTok and YouTube are particularly powerful for search. So much so that many users are ditching Google in favor of their social media platform of choice.
Offer perks and incentives.
Offer your creators a bonus for hitting certain engagement goals. Doing so will drive home the point that audience engagement is critical to your campaigns. Plus, it never hurts to reward your team for all their hard work.
Evaluate your influencers carefully.
Be on the lookout for “fake” influencers during the recruitment process. Unfortunately, many creators grow their audience dishonestly by buying likes and followers. Needless to say, partnerships with creators like that only cost you money without offering any real benefit.
Brands no longer vet influencers based on only their follower counts for this reason. Studies show that successful brands actually attach the most importance to content aesthetics, audience demographics, and engagement rate when working with influencers. You should also sift a creator’s content to make sure they engage positively with their followers in the comments.