12 Days of Data 2023 Day 3 Instagram for Influencers

12 Days of Data 2023 Day 3: Instagram for Influencers


Welcome to the 12 Days of Data 2023 Edition, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2023. We’re looking at the year that was (and oh, what a year it was, something we’ve been saying for four years straight now…) from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year. Sit up, get your beverage of choice ready, and let’s celebrate some data and look forward to the year ahead.

Instagram Influencer Engagement for Unpaid Content

On day 3, we look at influencer accounts. Influencers – individuals who can create awareness, build trust, perhaps even incite purchasing – have been a part of Instagram’s landscape since the very beginning. In recent years, they’ve emerged as one of the most powerful forces for marketers to ally with.

Using a curated list provided by Crowdtangle (a Facebook company) and then manually inspected and augmented by Trust Insights, we analyzed a sample size of 10,290 Instagram influencer accounts. Based on that data, we wanted to see what Instagram influencer engagement looked like for 2023.

Before we go further, we define engagement as the number of interactions (reactions, comments, shares) that occurred on an unpaid, unsponsored 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.

How have influencers fared on Instagram in 2023?

Key Instagram Influencer Statistics

Let’s start with the high-level summary. In 2023, influencers had:

  • A median of 223,437 followers, a 10.83% increase from last year
  • A median of 892 likes per post, an 11.77% decrease from last year
  • A median of 32 comments on their posts, a 3% decrease from last year
  • A median engagement rate of 0.53% per post, an 18.5% decrease from last year

Put another way, 1 out of every 189 followers engaged in some way with unpaid influencer content.

That number doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Let’s look at how unpaid influencer content performed throughout 2023:

Instagram influencer content through the year

Influencers definitely had a rougher 2023 than brands did. We saw them start out the year with engagement hovering around 0.65%, where they ended 2022, and by the end, they’re just about 0.5%, though as we saw with brands, that engagement has leveled out in the second half of the year.

When we examine the media types that performed best for influencers, we see even more nuance:

Instagram media content through the year

Albums converged with individual photo posts for engagement this year, and we saw video start to pick up for influencers as early as the springtime, with more and more video engagement throughout the year.

So What?

Influencers have seen their fortunes decline substantially in the last few years on Instagram. When we first started doing the 12 Days of Data back in 2019, influencers had a median engagement rate of 1.89% at the start of 2019. Fast forward almost 4 years later, and that number is 65% lower. They’ve earned larger audiences but get less from them.

However, the news isn’t all bad. As we saw with brands, influencers bounced mid-year to see their engagement rates begin to recover, mostly driven by video.

Additionally, there’s Threads. Threads isn’t Instagram, but it’s closely tied to the Instagram ecosystem. As a result, influencers with large followings on Instagram have a built-in advantage when they move over to Threads. However, not all their audience jumps in, and a sizable number of Threads personalities are finding that their campaigning on Threads is spilling over to Instagram.

Thus, if you have a Threads account and an Instagram account, you may be able to use one to influence the other. If you have an influencer you’ve worked with on Instagram but are priced out of their current status, you might be able to pitch them a much lower cost campaign on Threads as they work to build their influence on the new network.

And as we saw for brands, video is the common currency for high engagement, especially Reels. Work with influencers on video content that will perform well as Instagram Reels (and you may be able to port it to Tiktok as well) to maximize your opportunities for engagement.


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Trust Insights (trustinsights.ai) is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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