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12 Days of Data 2020, Day 4: Instagram for Influencers Key Metrics

Introduction

Welcome to the 12 Days of Data 2020 Edition, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2020. We’re looking at the year that was (and oh, what a year it was) from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year. Sit up, get your coffee ready, and let’s celebrate some data.

Instagram Influencer Engagement Statistics for Unpaid Content

On day 4, we continue our examination of Instagram, Facebook’s visual network. While Facebook was popular early on with influencers, it’s lost the crown to Instagram, which has become one of the most dominant platforms for influencers of every kind, especially in B2C marketing.

We start with Instagram account data for influencers’ organic (unpaid) content. Using a curated list provided by Crowdtangle (a Facebook company), a sample size of 10,346 Instagram influencer accounts. Based on that data, we wanted to see what Instagram influencer engagement looked like for 2020.

Before we go further, we define engagement as the number of interactions (reactions, comments, shares) that occurred on an Instagram influencer post, divided by the number of followers of that Instagram influencer account 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 2020, these 10,346 influencer pages published a total of 1,601,076 unique Instagram posts that were not paid or boosted posts:

Instagram influencer Statistics

The big picture in 2020 is the median engagement rate of 1.18% for unpaid content, a 14% decrease from 2019’s 1.37%. To put that in context, audience engagement with unpaid content on Instagram was 1 out of every 85 people who follow an Instagram influencer account. This is still 4.3 times better than influencers do on Facebook, so for influencers looking for engagement, Instagram is a far better bet.

Other statistics:

  • The median number of engagements per post was 1,882 likes, 40 comments per post, down from 4,747 likes and 68 comments in 2019
  • The median number of followers of Instagram influencer accounts was 175,816 followers, down from 393,898 followers in 2019
  • The median number of posts per day by influencer is 0.45, up from 0.413 in 2019

When we examine the trendline for this content, we see that influencers started the year level, with almost a 1.2% engagement rate, saw a brief bump early on in the pandemic, and then in the fourth quarter, saw an unexpected jump in engagement for October and November.

Instagram for influencers

This jump is unusual and more important, sustained. It’s also not concurrent with any new features; Reels, the most recent major feature upgrade, was in August of 2020.

Note that engagement is always low on the most recent 2 days of data due to the way Instagram’s algorithm works.

Key Takeaway

Instagram influencer marketing shows no sign of slowing down; among the different social media channels, it’s where people go to be seen. A cursory check of the term in Google Trends versus Facebook shows us everything we need to know.

Instagram influencer marketing

Influencers saw a small decline compared to 2019, and recent data shows their influence gaining strength. If you’re an influencer, now is the time to grow your audience and your power while the network favors you.

If you’re a brand, now is the time to identify influencers (if appropriate to your products and services) and engage with them.

Methodology

Trust Insights used Facebook’s Crowdtangle software to extract all posts from 10,346 Instagram influencer accounts for calendar year-to-date 2020. A list of influencer accounts was provided by Crowdtangle. Posts that were sponsored/paid were excluded at time of processing. Posts were deduplicated by post URL prior to tabulation. Engagement is defined as (likes + comments) / followers 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 influencer account during the study period. The timeframe of the study is January 1, 2020 to December 7, 2020. The date of extraction is December 7, 2020. 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, and declares no competing interests.


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