Last Updated on June 8, 2020

Reach is the combined number of people an influencer can potentially speak to through his or her social media accounts and websites, such as their number of followers and subscribers. While a reach of several hundred thousand or million seems attractive to a brand interested in influencer promotion, picking the right influencer is a little more complex. If you want to maximize your returns for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, there is one word you need to keep in the forefront of your mind: engagement.

Prioritize Engagement Over Reach

If you want to work with master influencers, people who command attention from the biggest and highest-paying brands, you’ll need to prioritize engagement rates over pure reach. Having millions of followers starts to lose significance if the percentage of people who actually engage is comparatively small. Put simply, engagement determines how well an influencer’s content performs.

To help clear this up, reach is simply how many connections an influencer has, while engagement is a tally of actions those connections perform, such as:

  • Liking, favoriting, or leaving reactions on posts.
  • Sharing posts.
  • Posting comments or replies.
  • Participating in hashtags or tagging the influencer.

Even views can be used to judge engagement. If an influencer has 50,000 subscribers, but only 500 people on average view each of the posts, that would only be a view engagement of 0.01 percent. Compared to an influencer with 2,000 subscribers but 500 views on average per post, that would be a far better view engagement of 25 percent.

Related: How can I find the best influencers?

Of course, you could still get lucky and have a low-engagement influencer’s post about you do especially well. In general, however, you can expect better results when you prioritize engagement rates overreach.

How to Judge an Influencer’s Engagement

Engagement cannot be scanned and displayed as a single number in the same way that reach can. Social influencer engagement will mean different things to different businesses. If sales are a priority for you, you may want influencers who get many clicks to a link. If you’re aiming for visibility and relationship marketing, comments or shares might be your top metric.

Once you know the metric or metrics that your business wants to see in an influencer, you should also consider what platforms are most important. Someone popular on a social network that your brand doesn’t even use might lead to a small disconnect, reducing the impact of their promotion. If you want a great image of your product or service to be featured, high engagement on a photo-based site such as Instagram could be valuable. It takes a little forethought, but it will definitely pay off to focus on influencers with engaged audiences on the right websites.

How to Calculate the Value of Engagement

To calculate the worth of influencer engagement, you’ll need to know the payment the person expects and then compare it to your potential gains. Let’s say a business selling perfume wants to make an influencer marketing agreement with a beauty blogger who has 1 million subscribers. If what matters to the business most is views, and the blogger gets a view rate of 10 percent, that means the business could expect roughly 10,000 views on the post advertising their cologne.

Related: How can I pitch an influencer?

From here, it’s easy to calculate the cost of engagement. If the blogger requests a payment of $5,000, then dividing that by the engagement amount (10,000 views) leads to 50 cents per engagement. By comparing this cost to other potential influencer costs and rewards, the cologne business might save money by working with several smaller influencers who have a collective reach of 10,000 but have higher engagement rates or charge a total of less than $5,000.

It pays to shop around and find people who not only fit your brand and target audience but who can get you the highest return on investment. Most businesses don’t make influencer marketing profitable by making a deal with one big-name celebrity. Marketers who stay patient and play a longer game, working with a substantial number of high-engagement influencers, will rack up those smaller benefits and grow more organically and reliably, and all for a lower total cost, most likely.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should always avoid high-reach, lower-engagement influencers. Sometimes you can use their engagement numbers to negotiate a cheaper payment that makes sense for you. These people still have a lot of followers who could potentially see the post about your product.

It’ll take logic, common sense, and knowledge of your brand and ideal audience to know what sort of engagement rate matters most to you. Ultimately, you should seek influencers who can inspire lots of people to check out your product or service, not just those with a lot of followers. Intellifluence’s platform can help you discover influencers who match your niche, are on the platforms that matter to you, and who have solid engagement rates. Try Intellifluence today if you want to take all the hard work out of the discovery process.