Finding influencers with engagement rates of over three per cent on Instagram has become an ongoing challenge for many people working in influencer marketing. The platform is still a primary digital focus for most brands – especially in the lifestyle vertical – yet understanding which content creators can drive success has become hard to pin down.
Make no mistake, the sands of Instagram are ever-shifting and only creators whose core audiences are reliably entertained and compelled by their proposition can engage consumers on a high level with every post. Alongside this, many are achieving huge engagement rates due to the viral success of their Reels.
To shed light on the exceptional talents of Instagram – and essentially who brands should be considering for big investment campaigns – we have analysed our database to discover who the 15 highest performing influencers are based on engagement rate.
The resulting list is based on public data from their last 25 permanent posts on Instagram and has been produced in collaboration with our technology partner, Dyzio. This is the first report in a new series of data journalism aiming to help CORQ subscribers gain a better understanding of how to work with influencers now. To help us make definitive observations about the influencer space as a whole. It is worth noting that our database is curated rather than being a marketplace or scraped accumulation of profiles. Everyone on CORQ is there due to the quality of their storytelling and our editorial team’s belief that our subscribers should be aware of them.
Before we get to the list, a few observations and trends based on the results of our data analysis…
Reels are essential (but can make engagement rates deceiving)
Since the launch of Reels and Instagram’s push to make it a platform staple, many influencers are having TikTok-esque experiences where one or two posts get extraordinary visibility or go viral. This can skew the influencer’s data and give the impression of huge success overall when perhaps they just had a hugely successful moment or two.
YouTube fans are still the best fans
Some of the most engaging influencers do not regularly post permanent content on Instagram. There is no pattern to their publishing yet every time they do, their community shows up and interacts with the content. For many creators, consistent posting is crucial for continual visibility but there are always exceptions to the rule. Many of the people in this list are these exceptions but the thing that unites them is a strong or historic presence on YouTube. This makes sense – the YouTube audience has proved itself time and time again is the most loyal and powerful, following their favourite creators to other platforms and celebrating new content, even when it’s a rare occurrence.
Niche is winning
Interestingly all of these creators are telling very personal or niche stories. They are not trying to be relatable but are simply documenting their lives in a way that is often completely unique to them. Personality and passion are the keys to an audience’s heart.
Milestone moments still inflate engagement rates
Proposals, weddings, pregnancy announcements. Posts dedicated to traditional milestone moments can still drive 20x the engagement of an influencer’s regular content. Their followers turn out in their droves to congratulate creators and tag their friends, continually increasing the reach of these posts.
- Chelsea-Scarlett Goslin-Minter (50% ER): this interiors content creator and stylist does social by day for home furnishings brand Heal’s and documents her rental decor journey on Instagram. The reason for her extraordinarily high engagement rate? Her Reel about floor stencilling went viral. As we said, niche performs.
- Scott Penders (45% ER): a football freestyler teaching his followers skills via Reels, Scott won a competition to be London’s Euro 2020 freestyler and documented his journey on Stories. Pushing his engagement rate so high is this post.
- Amy Pohl (34% ER): Amy is a TikTok star who has started to go viral on Instagram too. On both platforms, she documents life with chronic illness with sincerity and humour while also frankly discussing the reality of going from being a teacher to requiring round the clock care.
- Leanne Page (32% ER): a beauty influencer with a very unique approach (you have to see it), Leanne’s content borders on ASMR. If you like Get Ready With Me videos and watching a creator wash her makeup brushes (which nearly 270K people did).
- Fred Santana (28%): Fred is one third of cult podcast 90s Baby Show which goes out on YouTube and is also a live show, most recently performed to a packed out Lyric Theatre. His audience celebrated en mass when he announced his engagement and his commercial posts are just as successful as his organic. A broadcast star on the rise.
- Stephy Fung (28% ER): 3D artist Stephy uses Instagram to share the process behind her work, which includes creating crypto art, NFTs, digital clothes and skins for the Metaverse – something Instagram is finding increasingly fascinating (this post in particular got incredible reach). She is also big on TikTok and streams on Twitch.
- Olivia Neill (26% ER): a YouTuber, TikToker and podcaster, Olivia is a gen Z polymath but on Instagram she mostly focuses on fashion (her style is a spin on Y2K). She is currently sharing her “hot girl winter” on YouTube and her subscribers love that she’s living her best life. Rather than having peaks of engagement in Instagram, reaction to her content is consistent.
- Alice King (26% ER): a makeup artist who uses Instagram to focus solely on eye looks. See what we mean? Niche works. You have never seen a steadier hand than Alice’s or a more definitive and dedicated approach to one part of the face.
- Imogen Nunn (26% ER): if you haven’t seen Imogen Nunn’s content already, prepare to be blown away. This big-on-TikTok digital star is tracking huge engagement on Instagram too for her Reels about inclusion, mental health and how the pandemic has impacted the deaf community. This post is a good place to start.
- Sarah New (25% ER): a student at Bournemouth, Sarah was crowned the winner of Revolution Beauty’s Creator Revolution competition in 2021. Since then, she has continued to produce regular content with transitions and transformations being the strands her Instagram audience really loves.
- Tiffany Hunt (25% ER): a makeup artist and contestant on BBC3 show Glow Up, Hunt creates looks that defy reality. Driving her incredible engagement rate is this post which completely outperformed her average (and you can see why).
- Rekayla Jevine (25% ER): short curly hair is the focus of Rekayla’s Instagram content and she delivers consistent levels of engagement you might expect for the stage she’s at (10.7K followers plus evident talent). However, it was this Reel that pushed her engagement rate super high. And it was an ad. Worth noting, hair brands.
- Niko Omilana (24% ER): Niko ran for Mayor of London in 2021 and came fifth. Not bad for a joke candidate. More recently he served an eviction notice to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his followers – AKA the Niko Defence League, or NDL – are obsessed and fully bought into his mission (which has been somewhat esoterically described as “vibes”).
- Natachi Okem-Obih (23% ER): this makeup influencer is something of a mystery at this point. Incredibly beloved by her audience, but she hasn’t posted since 2020. This hasn’t stopped her audience from continuing to check in, leave comments and watch her content. Her channel gathers constant engagement after two years of silence (there have been 73 comments in the past week) and her audience wants her to be in no doubt that she’s missed.
- Carolyn Stritch (22% ER): this dreamy Instagram account nostalgically harks back to the days when the platform was all about atmospheric pictures and idyllic lifestyles. Like most accounts noted, Carolyn’s Reels have extraordinary reach (especially this one).
- NOTABLE MENTION – Luke Neil (22% ER): this emergent designer and UAL student has less than 10K followers but has already created custom looks for Bimini Bon Boulash and Ginny Lemon. This TikTok reposted to Reels about a pair of trousers he made is the one that has delivered such an impressive engagement rate.
By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ. Picture credit: Fred Santana via Instagram.