Instagram influencers aren’t very good at influencing anymore

A new study shows engagement rates are nearing all-time lows

Influencers get a bad rep, and TBF it’s not hard to see why – they’ve hosted sham ‘seminars’, scammed children out of money, and sold their own bathwater. Now it turns out their reign might be coming to an end, as a new study reveals influencer engagement rates are nearing all-time lows.

According to data by analytics firm InfluencerDB, Instagram has become over-crowded with sponsored posts, with influencers from all industries feeling the effects of cluttered feeds. In the study, published by Mobile Marketer, engagement was measured with a like-follower ratio, or by the average number of likes on each post compared to number of followers.

Seemingly tired of being influenced – or being sold card games when all they wanted was memes – users are clicking ‘like’ less than ever. The engagement rate for #sponcon has fallen to 2.4 per cent, dropping from 4 per cent in 2016, while the rate for non-sponsored posts slid to 1.9 per cent from 4.5 per cent.

It also seems the less followers you have, the better your engagement – those with at least 10,000 followers have 3.6 per cent engagement rate, while influencers with 5,000 to 10,000 are at 6.3 per cent, and users with just 1,000 to 5,000 have the highest engagement rate of 8.8 per cent.

This suggests that influencers with smaller followings tend to have more loyal fans, which is something brands have already tapped into it, jumping on the ‘micro-influencer’ bandwagon. Though if this data is anything to go by, engagement is bound to drop once these influencers get bigger.

But falling engagement rates doesn’t necessarily mean the era of the influencer is over, rather it could be evolving. “I think the whole ‘influencer industry’ has caused a lot of stress and a lot of unrealistic expectations for kids and teens all over the world,” influencer Tora Northman told Dazed last month, “and I would like to see it either disappear or drift into something more empowering.”

While these numbers might be pretty confusing, the main takeaway here is that social media users have wised up to covert advertising and are declaring a war on capitalism by withholding the thing brands want the most – likes (AKA money). That or they simply don’t care about detox tea anymore.