We’ve talked about the power of Instagram to brands- 300 million monthly users, almost half of which are between the ages of 16 and 24, makes up a huge consumer audience. There is no doubt that, harnessed correctly, Instagram can be a valuable tool for brands looking to engage consumers through influencers.

One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make when implementing an influencer marketing campaign on Instagram is selecting the wrong influencer(s). We have an obsession with size in America – bigger always has to mean better – so it’s natural to gravitate towards mega-celebrities who have tens of millions of Instagram followers as an influencer target for your brand. However, we’ve just completed a new study, that showcases why this may not be your best bet.

We recently analyzed more than 800,000 Instagram users, with the majority having at least 1,000 followers. This amounted to a total of approximately five million total Instagram posts that we looked at. The results may surprise you– when it comes to Instagram influencers, better things come in smaller packages.

        The key finding of our data is that as an influencer’s follower total rises, the rate of engagement (likes and comments) with followers decreases. Those with less than 1,000 followers generally received likes on their posts 8% of the time. Users with 10 million+ followers only received likes 1.6% of the time. There is a clear downward correlation between follower sizes and post likes.
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The data showed the same curve to be true for Instagram comments as follower sizes grow.

Users with less than 1,000 followers generate comments about 0.5% of the time, compared to 0.04% for those with 10M+ followers – a difference of nearly 13X.
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So what’s the sweet spot? We believe influencers in the 10k-100k follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach, with like and comment rates that exceed influencers with higher followers. You’re still getting a large audience, but you know those followers are keyed into what your influencer is all about. These micro-influencers will move the needle for your brand and cost a fraction of what you would pay a mega-celebrity.

So in Instagram influencer marketing, size does matter – the best things come in small packages.