Social Media

Metrics that Matter When Choosing an Instagram Influencer

4 Mins read

2020 may not be a great year so far in general, but it is a great one for Instagram influencers. Instagram is now the leading channel for influencer marketing, with more than 90% of influencer campaigns including the social network in some way.

That being said, for marketers, choosing the right Instagram influencer may feel a bit like floating adrift in a sea of profiles and statistics. The sheer amount of data available can feel overwhelming. But the process doesn’t have to be painful. 

The key to choosing well is understanding the ways we can evaluate and compare influencers. And in this article you can find a list of the most important metrics that matter when making this decision.

Influencer performance-driven metrics

These metrics are ways to measure how successful an influencer is on Instagram. Remember to ensure that your metrics are always up to date!

Number of followers

More followers does not make a better influencer. Just because someone has millions of followers doesn’t mean that their audience is actively engaged with their content. Further, a very large audience represents a wider range of interests. Branded posts may therefore reach people who aren’t interested in them.

Engagement rate

Engagement rate shows how much an influencer’s audience interacts with their content. High engagement rates show that followers trust and value an influencer’s opinion. A high engagement rate can therefore produce engagement with your brand. 

This metric can sometimes spike or dip, so it’s important to look at engagement rate over the influencer’s last 10-12 posts to find an average. Also, look out for extremely high engagement rates; they may mean the influencer has bought fake likes or comments. A good way to calculate engagement rate is through an influencer marketing platform.

Instagram Influencer

Fashion influencer @lena_eilers has an above-average engagement rate in the 5k-15k followers segment.

Follower growth rate

This metric shows how an influencer’s follower base has grown over time, based on a ratio of new followers to old. If you see a steadily increasing growth rate, the influencer is growing their audience organically through commitment and content.

However, if follower growth looks more like a roller coaster, you may need to take a second look at the influencer’s profile. One reason for an abnormal growth rate could be that the influencer hosts a lot of giveaways, which usually require a follow and like/comment. People love to win prizes. But that alone won’t convert them into an engaged follower.

Instagram Influencer

An example of healthy follower growth rate.

Followers/following ratio 

If you’re on Instagram, this has probably happened to you: someone follows you, you follow them back, and then they unfollow you. Follow/unfollow is a tactic used to try to gain followers without putting in the hard work that attracts them organically.

If the ratio of followers to following is close to 1, it’s a bit suspicious; the influencer may be employing the follow/unfollow strategy to attract followers for the wrong reasons. 

Audience authenticity

Bots are automated followers, likes or comments that can be purchased for Instagram. They can make a profile more impressive at the surface level, but in the end, they do no good. Their comments are often nonsensical and sometimes inappropriate. And more importantly, they offer no real engagement. As a marketer, you don’t want to waste valuable time and money on impersonal computer programs.

So how can you calculate audience authenticity? Well, you could do it manually, sifting through an influencer’s followers and post comments to see if they look like they come from real human beings. But a much more efficient way to assess this metric is with influencer marketing software.

Audience demographics

By now you’ve heard know your audience. Well, when choosing an influencer, you also have to know their audience. 

If you don’t look at audience demographics, you can end up with missed opportunities. For example, you’re rolling out a new product to Spain, so you choose a Madrid-based influencer to promote your brand. But you don’t realize that the majority of that influencer’s audience is located in South America, where your company doesn’t ship. 

In addition to location, it’s important to look at audience age, gender, language and interests. Make sure that the influencer you choose is connected to the right people.

Instagram Influencer

Audience demographics matter! @milk_the_samoyed is located in Ontario, Canada, but her audience is primarily Korean-speaking.

Brand mentions

When working with a brand, an influencer will often tag it in their photo or mention it as a paid partnership. You may want to see if they’ve worked with one of your competitors. You also might want to gauge your own potential campaign success by looking at the average engagement on their past branded posts.

Instagram Influencer

Fitness influencer @theroxyreyes collaborating with @nikelosangeles.

Cost per post

Budgets are a necessary evil, and it’s important to establish how much you can spend on influencer marketing before you start your influencer search. Not all influencers are created equally, and each one has their own cost per post. Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good ROI. Consider micro influencers, who may offer posts in return for products or experiences.


You could try to take these metrics directly from an influencer’s Instagram profile, but the process will be time-consuming and tedious. An influencer marketing platform offers a much more efficient way to find influencers, evaluate their statistics, and make the right decision.