12 Days of Data, Day 4: Instagram Influencer Engagement Statistics for Unpaid Content


Welcome to the 12 Days of Data, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2019. We’re looking at the year that was from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year and decade. Sit up, get your coffee ready, and let’s celebrate some data.

Instagram Influencer Engagement Statistics for Unpaid Content

On Day 4, we tackle influencers on Instagram. 2019 was the year of peak Instagram influencers, as thousands, if not millions, of people tried their hands at becoming influential on Facebook’s younger sibling. Using Facebook’s Crowdtangle software and a list of more than 4,000 influencers, let’s see what Instagram did for influencer accounts in 2019.

Before we go further, we define engagement as the number of interactions (likes and comments) that occurred on an Instagram influencer post, divided by the number of followers of that Instagram profile at the time of posting. For all the computations that follow, we use the median as the measure of centrality, rather than the mean (average) because medians deal better with outliers, especially in large social media datasets.

In 2019, these 4,462 Instagram influencer profiles published a total of 632,379 unique posts that were not paid or boosted posts:

12 Days of Data, Day 4: Instagram Influencer Engagement Statistics for Unpaid Content

The headline statistic? Instagram’s influencer rates at 1.37% are 3x what brands achieve on the platform and 157x greater than what influencers achieve on Facebook’s core platform. Influencers, for now, do better on Instagram.

Other statistics:

  • The median number of engagements per post was 4,747 likes, 68 comments
  • The median number of followers was 393,898
  • The median number of posts per day by brand is 0.32 posts

All isn’t rosy for influencers, however; in the beginning of 2019, influencers achieved a blistering 1.89% engagement rate, but by December, their median engagement rate was hovering around 1.11% – a decrease of 41.2% over the year.

12 Days of Data, Day 4: Instagram Influencer Engagement Statistics for Unpaid Content

While still better than brands, this slow decline continues to erode their power; what will be curious to see is whether the removal of public-facing metrics like Likes changes this trajectory of engagement for influencers.

Key Takeaways

In terms of the current public-facing Facebook ecosystem (excluding Messenger and WhatsApp), Instagram influencers currently achieve the highest performance for engagement, with the note that across Facebook’s properties, everything unpaid continues to decline in performance. This is a clarion call to every marketer that “something for nothing” is coming to a close on anything Facebook operates. Budget accordingly – if the audience you’ve acquired via influencer or brand on any of Facebook’s properties is valuable to you, be prepared to pay more, more frequently, to reach that audience. In the shorter term, as influencers on Instagram still greatly outperform brands, consider growing your own influencers rather than relying on third parties.

Be VERY cautious about signing any agreement with a paid influencer for longer than month-to-month engagements. At any time, Facebook could significantly diminish their power, as it did in early 2019, thus eroding your return on investment without notice.

Consider in 2020 a series of aggressive campaigns to migrate your audience away from the Facebook ecosystem. Facebook and Instagram still make it relatively inexpensive and easy to set up advertising in a variety of formats to reach your audience. Consider opening up forums, Slack or Discord groups, or even just standard email newsletters to capture audiences from Facebook before pricing and inventory become unobtainable for all but the deepest-pocketed of brands.


Trust Insights used Facebook’s Crowdtangle software to extract all posts from 4,462 Instagram influencer profiles for calendar year-to-date 2019. Influencers were provided by Crowdtangle. Posts that were sponsored/paid were excluded at time of processing. Posts were deduplicated by post URL prior to tabulation. Stories were not included because Stories data is excluded in the Facebook API. Only regular feed and IGTV posts were included. Engagement is defined as (likes + comments) / likes at posting. Due to the changing nature of audience sizes, determining follower size for individual influencers was calculated as the median number of followers for the Instagram influencer profile during the study period. The median was chosen as the measure of centrality for all metrics. The timeframe of the study is January 1, 2019 to December 7, 2019. The date of extraction is December 11, 2019. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors.


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