Instagram Follower Demographics and Engagement Rates

by Satterfield Group

Over the course of the last three months, we have tracked thousands of Instagram accounts to paint a more detailed picture of how different users interact with the platform and engage with content creators. 

The criteria for selecting accounts to track were as follows:

  • Over 10,000 followers 
  • Posting to the platform at least once a week
  • Sharing sponsored content
  • 95%+ Real Followers
  • Personality/Public Figure/Creator, not a brand page
  • Diverse mix of influencers representative of the population
  • No mainstream celebrities
  • Accounts without sexually provocative or primarily political content   

The result was a database of over 6,500 Influencers with over 46 million followers, Influencers who were verified made up 54% of the sample, and 5% of Influences self-identified as non-binary, with the rest evenly split between Influencers who identified as male or female. Influencers from the sample featured content creators in the cooking, lifestyle, travel, automotive, and fashion genres. 

The audience demographics were sorted by male/female only as there is no reliable way to identify non-binary followers, the result was a sample that was 56% female and 44% male. On average 52% of Influencer’s audiences were from the USA. 

We then sorted Influencer accounts by gender, follower location, account verification status, post frequency, and began comparing engagement rates to determine driving factors behind higher engagement. Below we have outlined the key takeaways from the project that we hope will help you better understand the Instagram platform. 

Key takeaways:

  • Female Influencers saw the highest engagement of the three influencer categories, 84% more than male Influencers, and 13% more than non-binary Influencers. 
  • The average engagement rate for all Influencers was 2.55%.
  • We didn’t find any special posting patterns or favoring of one form of content over another. 
  • Verification does not increase engagement rate, in all categories non-verified accounts averaged higher engagement rates than verified accounts within the same category. 
  • Across all categories, Influencers with a higher percentage of female followers had the most engagement in form likes and comments. 
  • Male followers are less engaged, Influencers with a larger percentage of male followers received 62% fewer comments than Influencers with predominantly female followers. 

Verification, it does not matter as much as we thought: 

The percentage of verified accounts was nearly identical with 54% of male and 53% of female Influencers in the sample receiving the blue verification badge, 62% of non-binary Influencers sampled had received account verification.

While other studies have claimed that verification does result in higher engagement rates, by removing mainstream celebrities, Influencers who post mainly sexually provocative content, and political accounts, we found that similar Influencers in the same genres have comparable engagement rates regardless of verification status. In many categories, non-verified users had slightly higher engagement rates. 

Demographics matter:

Follower demographics, not follower count are more important factors when looking at engagement, female and non-binary Influencers with higher percentages of female followers saw more comments and likes than Influencers with predominately male followers, regardless of the Influencer's gender. On average female Influencers have a 73% female audience, non-binary Influencers have a 78% female audience, male Influencers averaged a 60% male audience. Female Influencers averaged 84% and non-binary Influencers average 71% more engagement than male Influencers despite having similar audience sizes.

Universally, Influencers with more followers in the USA had significantly higher engagement rates than those with followings in other countries. We found that Influencers who had less than 40% of their audience in the USA had 74% less engagement than the study average while Influencers with 60% or more of their following in the USA had 23% higher engagement than the study average. 

There are no tricks:

There is a trend in marketing right now selling the idea of “Instagram Hacks,” ways to trick the algorithm by publishing the right number of posts, the type of posts, focusing on reels, posting longer descriptions, some of the methods being promoted are asking creators to produce 5-10 pieces of content a week using all the different features Instagram has to offer. From what we can see after sifting through over 6,500 influencer accounts, there is no set number of Static Posts, Reels, IGTV, Guides, or Stories that Influencers need to follow. 

The most engaged account in our sample, with an 11.17% engagement rate, simply constantly posted one static post a day. The user had posted on average less than 2 Reels or IGTV posts per month but did constantly post to Instagram Stories. Another high performer from the sample group posted mostly video content via Reels and IGTV shared to their main feed, generating an over 8% engagement rate. The common factor in all of the top-performing accounts was consistency in posting and the sharing of high-quality content.