(See part 1 here)

A million followers on Instagram means a million people have hit 'follow' on that profile. The variable brands pay for is the engagement those followers have with the influencer. They look for trust, community, consistency, dedication between the influencer and their fans.

A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation works out the percentage of those followers that are liking the content posted. That one tool is often referred to as 'engagement' - it's quick, easy, comparable, but it's only a small piece of the puzzle that makes up how engaged an influencer's community really is. Expert agencies and marketers employ a number of tactics to build a picture of an influencer's community, and therefore, influence. I asked these experts: "What's one way you determine if an influencer has an engaged community around them?"

Cristina from Outsmart Labs - Marketing agency

You really have to focus and evaluate how that community is interacting with the influencer. We assess the quality of comments on posts, the number of link clicks within a "Swipe Up" Instagram Story, the number and quality of entries in a "question" Instagram sticker, and much more. These are just some ways that help us see the big picture in terms of the power of influencers and their relationship with their community.

Karsten from BrandHive - Marketing agency

The number of likes and comments on influencer content is only the tip of the iceberg. When determining how engaged a community is, brands should look into the details of the comments thread. One of the best signs of great engagement is authentic commentary from a variety of people across all of the influencer's recent content.

Sophie from Borne - Creative agency

We all know to go beyond the numbers which is why one of the ways borne look for an engaged community is to see whether an influencer is engaged with their audience first! Are they taking the time to connect with their followers, answer their questions or spark up a conversation in the comments section? This can be a really important indicator to show that rather than just scrolling through and double-tapping like, someone is taking the time to go the extra mile to engage with someone they follow.

Also, don’t be shy to ask for analytics for channels where it might be tricky to sense an engaged community on the face of things. It’s important that the relationship works for everyone and there’s no harm in asking for this information. If an influencer is reluctant to provide it, the alarm bells should start ringing.

Harry from Fluential - Influencer marketing agency

The majority of people tend to rely on face value statistics when it comes to influencers. Likes, comments, shares. Whilst I firmly believe (and this is true with everything in life) that the longer you do this, the more you start to understand naturally, there are a few small things you can do to determine how engaged an audience are. For example, how long has this influencer been around? How long has their influence existed and how has it grown? You don't need fancy plugins or platforms for this, just browse their profiles and actually have a look for yourself. Don't look at how many comments there are but rather, what do they say? Are people simply posting an emoji or are they engaging in conversation with the influencer? Are they responding to their captions and their opinions, showing how much attention they're giving the influencer. Finally, the ANALYTICS! So many people are scared to ask influencers for their actual analytics. Not just their audience demographics, I mean previous results they've had. How many link clicks, sign ups or purchases they've driven. If they won't tell you, what does that tell you about them?

Denver from HaveYouHeard - Advertising agency

Using various tools one can certainly calculate an influencers engagement rate, but responses to call to actions are a great way to determine if they have an engaged community, particularly if it requires an additional step, effort or payment. Getting someone to like & comment is one thing, but getting people to attend, get involved, participate, place an order, etc is another. It's often simply that the influencer is part of a community or tribe around a common activity, driver or societal shift, and they play the role of a key opinion leader within the greater sphere of influence. Often once those online tools have been used to establish high engagement numbers, its a matter of eyeballing the actual engagement to see whether it seems authentic and engaged or surface level and/or bot-like.

Sanna from Cure Media - Influencer marketing agency

The easiest and fastest way to tell if an influencer has an engaged community around them is to look at the engagement rate - obviously, a high engagement rate implies that the followers are interested in the influencer’s content and find it relevant. However, to make sure the engagement rate reflects the truth, it’s important to evaluate the quality of the engagement - are the comments relevant and real, or is there a risk that the followers haven’t been gained organically? It’s always good to look beyond the numbers to tell if an influencer has an engaged community around them or not.

Tiia from Indieplace - Influencer marketing agency

In addition to self-evident numeric criteria (like engagement rates), we emphasize the quality of content and influencer. Credibility is the true form of engagement. When influencer is credible in their followers eyes, with all campaign posts, even if the topic is controversial (for example environmental issues), the biggest engagement is found when followers believe in influencer despite, well, everything. That can be seen in addition to sales growth but also as a great, deep conversation in posts comments. Especially in Finland, where consumers and influencers´ followers are very critical, you have to be very aware of the credibility to get results.

Marie from UP Agency - Influencer marketing agency

Many views on IGTV reflects if the followers like to view longer and deeper content with the influencer. High reach efficiency on stories, the dual effect of this is that it reflects if the influencer is good at keeping up their view numbers because they create good content here. We as followers are prone to swipe quickly through stories, so when someone has a high reach on stories, this reflects that the influencer is good at creating engagement.