We hate to break it to you, but not every follower of an influencer that is involved in your influencer marketing campaign will see the content you want to promote. You might have worked meticulously on the perfect campaign, analyzed and identified numerous influencers that fit your brand and figured out the right content to promote your product but you still do not reach your complete audience, since followers do not equal reach and reach does not equal engagement. Confusing? Let’s break it down!
What is an Instagram Audience?
An Instagram audience is the group of Instagram users who consume an account’s posting. The audience can be bigger than the number of followers as unsubscribed users are also able to see postings shared by public accounts.
Audience breakdown: The difference between followers, reach and impressions
Followers is a pretty precise term: Followers are those users that subscribed to a channel. Thus, content is delivered directly to their news feeds. But keep in mind that not all people that could theoretically see your content do also actually see your content. The perfect scenario: An influencer has 500k followers and 500k followers actually see every post. Unfortunately, this case hardly occurs. A user would have to check the news feed permanently in order to really see every post delivered to the news feed.
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Reach, on the other hand, describes all people who actually see the content. These can be followers but also people who are not subscribed to the channel – provided that the channel is public. The content does not only appear on subscribed followers’ news feeds but might for example also be displayed in the Explore section of Instagram. After Instagram announced a change in its algorithm in March 2016, users feared that their posts would disappear and thus their reach would decrease. However, Instagram emphasized that all posts will still be displayed and only the order of posts will be affected with posts now sorted by relevance instead of the former chronological order:
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.
Facebook pursued a similar strategy with an algorithm change in June 2016. While content was mainly sorted chronologically up to then, Facebook now gives preference to the content of friends and family:
Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook. That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.
Facebook openly clarified that a decrease in reach may occur in certain cases and thus promotes the creation of shareable and valuable content:
Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts. We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends.
The term impressions expresses the number of times a post is displayed to a follower. A piece of content can have more than one impression per user. On Facebook, for example, a post can appear in your feed, but it can also be shared by your friends. Both posts will be displayed to you. Therefore, you can see the same post several times, leading to various impressions.
How to detect the number of views on a post
The actual views of a post cannot be measured on Instagram and Twitter for regular accounts. YouTube, on the other hand, expresses views on videos openly. Owners of Instagram and Facebook business accounts, however, can see the impressions of their particular posts. On Facebook, this is displayed as People Reached and Post Clicks. On Instagram, these numbers are shown as Impressions and Reach, with impressions being defined as “The total number of times your post has been seen” and reach as “The number of unique accounts who saw your post”.
On Instagram, video views are displayed openly, for owners of channels as well as anyone else who can see the post. According to Instagram, a view count “doesn’t include video loops, and a view is counted when a video is watched for 3 seconds or more”.
The 5 Levels of Commitment
Keep in mind that not all followers are created equal and not all of them will show a high level of commitment and engagement towards channels. The pyramid below shows the amount of users in relation to their commitment.
Unsubscribed users make up the majority of users on Instagram from the perspective of every individual influencer. These are users that are not subscribed to a channel. Posts do not appear in such users’ feeds. Unsubscribed users will only come across a channel’s posts if that channel is tagged or mentioned in a post on a channel the user subscribed to or randomly via the explore section. Searching for certain hashtags can also lead to discovering content of channels without being subscribed to these channels.
If a user decides on a higher form of commitment towards a channel, he becomes a follower. Followers are those users that are subscribed to a channel. The posts of the channels they follow are displayed in their feeds according to Instagram’s algorithm: Content of people close to you as well as posts that Instagram evaluates as relevant for you will be displayed higher in your feed. The more dedicated users are towards Instagram, the more channels they usually follow. Therefore, you would have to check your Instagram feed every minute to see all of the content that swamps your feed. In general, users miss up to 70% of their feed’s content.
The term reach is used to describe those users that actually see an individual post. This metric can be measured for regular and business accounts on YouTube. On Instagram and Facebook, only business accounts are able to track reach.
The highest forms of commitment are displayed by liking and commenting. Followers engage with a channel by liking the channel’s posts. A higher level of commitment towards the influencer and the influencer’s channel comes into play.
Commenting on posts marks the highest form of commitment since it involves actually dealing with the content and engaging with it.
The picture below paradigmatically shows the amount of likes and comments for a post on Instagram in relation to the number of followers:
Australian influencer Kiara King (@lioninthewild) has more than 136k followers. For this picture, she got approximately 10.400 likes but only 121 comments, which shows the amount of willingness of the audience towards liking and commenting.
The channel of German influencer Kosta Williams (@kosta_williams) displays similar metrics, although he has almost 3.5 times more followers than Kiara King.
How to assess potential engagement with an influencer’s content
Before diving into an influencer campaign, it is important to remember that not the complete audience of an influencer will see every post and not all of those reached will commit to engaging with a post either. To evaluate the potential engagement of an influencer’s followership prior to a campaign, certain metrics can be analyzed. The Like Follower Ratio of the channel can be a helpful indicator. This metric describes the number of likes in proportion to the number of followers.
A further important metric is the Audience Quality Score which describes the quality of followers.
A high score indicates, among other things, an active, involved and real audience, looking for new content and products. A low score, on the other hand, signifies a high amount of unengaged followers that are uninterested in the channel’s content. It might also indicate fake followers or the use of follow-for-follow methods.
These metrics have to be analyzed carefully, though. It is certainly not the case that every follower that does not comment on or like posts is actually uninterested in the content and is, by definition, an invaluable follower regarding conversion. Likewise, not every engaged and committed follower will convert into a customer. Nonetheless, in order to analyze an influencer’s audience and learn more about his followers, the inspection of the Like Follower Ratio and the Audience Quality Score are inevitable and reliable metrics that help to estimate the outcome of a campaign.