Like the interdimensional demon in Stranger Things, there’s a monster lurking in the walls of your Influencer team. That beast in the room – complacency – is the one saying, “this is the way we’ve always done it.” Well, as you get ready for Season 2 this Friday, ask yourself this: Do billboard buyers pore over more data than your influencer team? The answer is probably yes; and that’s sort of okay for now. You’re actually in the majority – but it’s a majority quickly decaying in a market zooming past $5 billion.

Don’t look so glum (or defensive)! You won’t need to hire a Dungeons & Dragons-playing data scientist or to spend a ton of money on annual subscriptions (are they still a thing?). Follow along and your influencers will convey more “Qualified Engagement” to the brand team, which will compel higher conversions and awareness. And here’s the best part: it’s cheaper. Mind blown? Like Barb’s really alive, right (right?)?

What data will you need?

First, let’s talk about impressions, engagement, and Qualified Engagement. Impressions are often dismissed as obsolete, but while we don’t charge or rely on them, we actually like them for campaigns which have a longer shelf life like YouTube or Pinterest. Impressions are aspirational–like looking at a supermodel. You’ll probably never look as good in your clothes, but it’s fun to imagine–if you’re into that kind of thing.

Average engagement per post as a metric is pretty good. It’s total likes, loves, or clicks; objective proof that someone saw the post. Because of things we’ll get into later, it makes the most sense to charge by the engagement rather than impressions. But Qualified Engagement–it’s lit. It’s that no-brainer metric when choosing influencers that ignites a product launch, reinvigorates a laggard brand, or makes that promotion such a breathtaking success it triggers rapid blinking from Management. So how do you get it?

Your favorite subject

The first step is all about you–your brand. Using Instagram as the platform, let’s run some engagement data and surface some essential details about your audience.

Notice from Figure 1 (fake brand but real data) that the person engaging with the brand’s posts is generally female, young, and likes entertainment, food, and tech. Also notice that the person doesn’t mind spending money on food and tech. Branding people might call this the “persona” of the brand. But this is specific to social and more distinct to Instagram, as we have found that these personas can change on different social platforms.

The next step is pretty obvious: Find influencers who match, or at least don’t contradict, your brand’s typical engager. So now that you know the available data and can see how your engagement will improve, how can you save money?

The celebrity cop-out

The Super Bowl ad of the influencer sphere, celebrities (“macro-influencers”) are expensive and come with engagement that’s emotional sabotage. When all those Likes come in, you get a surge of euphoria like eating that pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. But within a few hours comes crushing guilt. You just blew all or a big chunk of your budget for a celebrity and still don’t really know what you got for it. So next time your team suggests a celebrity, squint your eyes and air-twirl your handlebar moustache. Ask them to dig into their audience and see how well your audience aligns. Look at overall engagement rate as well as the engagement rate of the categories which mean most to you. Look at their audience credibility score.

Now here’s the saving money part. Instead of that “macro” influencer, you could look at multiple “mid-level” influencers.

And do the math.

Macro versus Mid

These are real numbers but fake names. Big Blog on the left is someone you know well. She’s spent decades working on her blog and charges a flat fee for a blogpost. She might be ideal for other brands if there weren’t a few things that stand out:

  • Her engagement rate is abysmal–just over 1%
  • She’s bought a bunch of followers – her audience cred is actually 76%

So while she may be quite successful at her blog, Instagram is a side project that doesn’t get her full attention. Kind of like when the New York Times first came out with a web version of their paper in 1996. This is someone you should never use as an influencer, even if the demos and interests fit. Incidentally, a good marker for audience credibility is >95%.

Now to our binging Netflix-and-chiller, Binger21. She’s a totally different story. Her audience persona is closely aligned to SuperCool’s: Young female, strong on entertainment and food. At a whopping 14% engagement rate, she must have striking content her followers love to engage with.

The math

The engagement percentages you see in Figure 2 are based on the average engagement. Picking a couple markers, we can see that the mid-level will offer better engagement in absolute numbers:

Female (note Macro’s age range doesn’t align with SuperCool’s)

  • Macro = 21.8% * 14,300 = 3,117 potential qualified engagements
  • Mid     = 80.3% * 4,648 =  3,732  potential qualified engagements


  • Macro = 1.9% * 14,300 = 271 potential qualified engagements
  • Mid     = 29.9% * 4,648 =  1,390  potential qualified engagements

For the money, the mid-level, Binger21, wrecks our blogger-turned-Instagrammer.

Math for the win

Now the fun part. A macro blogger like big_blog would want a flat rate of about $5,000 – $10,000 to post something nice about your brand. You’ll have to insist she post on Instagram rather than a blog post, which few of your young female audience would see. Binger21 could be priced as performance-based, so you’ll pay by the Like – probably about $1,000 – $3,000. Because she’s being paid by the click, she’s going to create a more beautiful post for you and won’t upcharge you a ton for a non-compete.

What about fake followers?

Reading your mind, right? Most 21st century influencer companies can tell you about audience credibility and monitor it during the campaign. Barring having this data, you can keep an eye on her follower count and, of course, cap the total fee you’ll pay. We typically use 10% above their average engagement.

This is too simple

Of course you can get fancy with this raw data. Weight the interests – maybe a 10% rate in Food is worth 2x a 15% rate in Entertainment. Create custom interests by bundling some raw interests. Do the above analysis on a per-post type basis. Determine psychographics based on machine learning and AI. There’s a lot you can do but just start with simple Qualified Engagement – you’ll blow by your competitors with more awareness and have plenty of budget left over for your holiday party.



MATTR is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.