Having a number of followers that soars into the tens of thousands is impressive, sure. But what does that actually mean when looking at genuine interaction with Instagram users? Not all that much, in actual fact. What we should all be looking at is Instagram engagement. The Instagram average engagement rate 2019 saw was fluctuating constantly. Check out our blog post Instagram Engagement Rate – Three Reasons Why It Has Declined for the tea spilled further on Instagram engagement rate. Engagement rate measures how many users are actually reached by a particular account. Your favourite selfie-posting, paid partnership bragging, Facetune flexing influencer might not be as successful as they first appear.

In this blog post we will give you a rundown of how engagement is calculated and why it’s important. We will also delve into how these figures affect personal, influencer and business accounts. It all comes back to marketing some way or another, honey – and who better than the Monumentals, a social media agency, to set the record straight.

1. Instagram Engagement: What is it?

Instagram is one of the primary channels used for social media in today’s world of digital marketing. Around 1 billion people use the platform each month, which is a colossal eighth of the world’s population. This means that there are plenty of small screen queens out there who are going to make highly useful partners for influencer campaigns. But you need to make sure that you take a look at their Instagram stats before you partner with these pouting princes and princesses.

Follower count simply doesn’t cut it, for several reasons. First of all, influencers can buy followers in bulk that are most likely bot accounts. According to Cheq, these fake followers cost brands around £1.4 billion in 2019 alone. Secondly, many of an influencer’s followers might be dormant, or in other words disengaged. Due to the fact that, unless you’re an undercover hacker, you will not have access to an influencer’s Instagram insights. You have to find your own way to figure it out Nancy Drew, and engagement rate is the most effective way.

Put simply, engagement is a figure that shows how much of an account’s content actually reaches its followers. But, what is engagement? Well that’s the total number of likes, comments, shares and saves a post receives. Relatively straightforward, right? Well, the calculations are a bit more complex. Scrunch.com have concocted a handy little equation to explain:

Average Engagement Rate (%) Per Post = (Total Engagement / Number of Posts) / Follower Count x 100

Let’s take a look at the Monumental engagement for the month of May 2020 as an example. The total number of likes, comments, shares and saves for the 13 posts in the month is 335. The follower count at this time is 4200. So your equation is:

(335 / 13) / 4200 x 100 = 0.61%

This can be a labour intensive process to carry out for a large volume of users. I mean look at it. So, thankfully there are pieces of software that can do that for you. These calculate an Instagram average engagement rate across all users. As of 2019, this figure was 4.7%

Now that we’ve entered the frankly cursed year of 2020, Instagram will be turning the big 10 years old. So far this year, the average engagement rate is still at 4.7% – but reports of this may change later in the year once data has been collated and processed from the increase in interaction with digital platforms during COVID-19. This average, of course, varies across different types of brands and accounts. Sprout Social has measured that the average for an influencer will be 1.97%, whereas for an account representing a sports team, the average will be 2.4%. 

It is important to gauge the value of an account’s engagement rate relative to the sector it falls into. While an influencer will not have an engagement rate as high as the New York Yankees, this doesn’t mean they won’t turn it out for your campaign, sweetie.

2. Instagram insights: Your average may be… average

Should you give a monkey’s about the Instagram average engagement rate? Short answer: yas. If the figures from your Instagram insights are a lot lower than the average, then you may want to give yourself a long, hard look in the mirror. There are obviously some improvements that need to be made. Don’t beat yourself up too much though – engagement rate is different for different kinds of accounts. For example, a personal account with fewer than 1K followers will have a higher engagement rate than a brand account with 50K followers. It’s all relative.

Crunch time for engagement rate really only comes for influencer and business accounts. In influencer marketing, engagement is crucial because it attests to the performance of an account. This in turn makes said account more or less appealing for businesses to approach for sponsorship or PR deals. Reach (the number of followers) is important, but engagement is the true measure of marketing viability. 

For business accounts, it is also important to have as high an engagement rate as possible. Companies will compare their statistics to the Instagram average engagement rate and hence determine whether their performance is adequate or not. Although, it is important to note that engagement rate is not always directly comparable. For example, a food blogger’s engagement may be significantly higher on Instagram than Facebook, because it is an image based platform. Therefore, when an influencer is deciding whether a business will be a good partner for sponsorships, they must take into account the nature of the platform whose average engagement rate they are looking at.

3. How to improve your Instagram audience insights

If you are an influencer or you run a business account on Instagram, maintaining a good engagement rate should be a priority for you. If your Instagram stats are screaming that you’re more of a tired-ass showgirl than America’s next drag superstar, then there are some tips you might want to consider.

Make sure that you are engaging with your following. Replying to and liking comments will make your followers feel as though they are seen and will build a personal connection with them. This personal connection is crucial, as influencers act as the ultimate peer review in marketing. 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, and these recommendations will be valued much more highly if they come from an influencer that they feel a connection to.

Ensure that any sponsorships you undertake as an influencer come across as organic. Instagram stats like follower numbers and engagement will decrease if your posts are seen as contrived – think about it, nobody wants to be lied to by a friend. Ensure that you take on partnerships with products and services that you genuinely support, rather than taking what earns you the most cash. This will be obvious to your following and your Instagram engagement rate will suffer as a result.

For businesses and influencers alike, it is important to pay attention to which content on your feed is getting the most engagement. Use this information to tailor the kind of content that you’re putting out. It’s not rocket science, girl: the way to raise your average engagement rate is to ensure that your engagement on each post is the highest it can be. Constantly monitoring your account’s performance and optimising is the best way to go about achieving a high engagement rate.

4. Example of a deservedly high Instagram engagement rate

Sierra Schultzzie is a plus sized influencer whose Instagram account has a whopping 13.6% engagement rate! Now, not to be a size queen, but that’s an impressively large number. Sierra has achieved this because she observes the aforementioned tips and caters to her devoted following well.

As a body positive influencer, she has a devoted following of those who wish to be inspired by her pride in herself. Sierra has a strong message and her following stick with her, wanting to show support by liking her posts. Her partnerships are with reputable brands and are relevant to her messaging. It is unusual to see plus sized women modelling underwear, so her partnership with SavagexFenty is not contrived – it makes a statement that her following can relate to and want to consume.

While her following is not huge in comparison to some, it is evident from her engagement rate that it consists of highly engaged individuals. This means that she is delectable fodder for marketers who will want access to her audience sector. Her high engagement rate is proof of her marketing desirability in this instance.

We hope this blog has served you an adequate dose of social media marketing tea. Remember – follower count isn’t everything. Be wise to the lure of reach and know that engagement is key.

If you have any other questions, please don’t be shy and contact us. Or better yet, if you’re still keen to learn more about the ins and outs of Social Media, be sure to sign up for Social media training on our Monumental Masterclasses.


  • Alicia, the digital marketing dynamo herself, is our digital marketing Manager at Monumental. We are yet to find something our Indonesian-Belgian princess can't do. Prior to discovering Monumental, Alicia finished an honours degree in Sociology at the University of Kent and began building her marketing network in the Middle East. Having graced us with her stunning social channel aesthetics and unrivalled powers of Influencer marketing and SEO for several years now, it's no wonder she's giving us that side-eye.