We looked at the Top 100 American influencers on Instagram and their performance. Topping that up with influencers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia, we used an advanced influencer analytics tool and some good old manual searching. They have a combined reach of over 79M or around 24% of the US population.
Compared to the APAC countries that we’ve covered, American influencers tend to have less branded posts on their feeds. This is a notable trend in the US market as creators (particularly YouTubers) are mindful about choosing the right brand partnerships and do not want to be seen as ‘selling out’. Although we also know many influencers archive branded posts.
As we have done previously, we broke the profiles down to five influencer groups based on their follower count:
- Type A: 1.5m – 6m
- Type B: 201k – 1.5m
- Type C: 101k – 200k
- Type D: 61k – 100k
- Type E: 30k – 60k
Average post frequency across all influencer types is about 4-5 posts a week with Type A influencers posting the most frequently with an average of 5 posts per week. In the same week, influencers across all categories are seen to be posting about 1-2 branded posts. This is surprisingly different from their APAC counterparts but we will need to note that the influencers might engage their audience on Instagram Stories and IGTV which is not included in this article. However, most branded posts are incorrectly tagged with an average of 65% of postings tagged incorrectly across all influencer types.
Type B has the highest Audience Quality Score (AQS) (a score from 0 to 100) which takes into account Engagement Rate, active audience type, growth, and comment authenticity. This means that the followers of Type B are the most active and most likely to engage with their content, followed by Type A influencers. Hence, Type A and B are most likely to result in conversions. AQS is a useful guide for marketers as it is a simple scorecard for audience authenticity and engagement.
The average Engagement Rate of the United State’s Top 100 Instagram influencers is 5.09%. This is a great measure to take as a benchmark when planning for your next influencer campaign with American influencers. American influencers generate considerable engagement as the global average Engagement Rate for Instagram is only 1.66%. The highest reach and Engagement Rate is with 201k – 1.5m followers (Type B) influencers at 6.35% Engagement Rate (26% higher than Type A).
Overall, Type B influencers garnered the highest Engagement Rate amongst the five influencer types. This is similar to the likes of Australian influencers with Type B being the most engaging while in Southeast Asian markets (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore), Type C influencers garnered the highest Engagement Rate.
How to choose the best influencers for your next campaign?
It is important to note that influencers with a large number of followers do not necessarily mean that they can engage their audience and drive conversions. Like in the case of Arii, a fashion influencer with 2.6m followers cannot sell 36 t-shirts to get her own brand off the ground. Other than quantifiable factors like followers, Engagement Rates, and conversions, marketers should also take great precautions in vetting the content of influencers, their personas and their followers’ interest. It is also common for the influencer’s branded Engagement Rate (4.74%) to be lower than their general Engagement Rate (5.09%).
Compared to Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, most American influencers in Type A or B are full-time YouTubers from an array of categories including mukbang, comedy, photography, and music. Many of these influencers also have their own podcasts and Twitch channels. This is also reflected in the influencers with the highest Engagement Rates:
Stephanie with an average Engagement Rate of 21.28%
Victor with an average Engagement Rate of 18.74%
Joji with an average Engagement Rate of 13.44%
How is the US different from other markets?
The United States is one of the largest nations in the world with diverse cultures and subcultures – many are also unique to the US i.e. gun advocacy and legalization of marijuana. This means there are many niches that influencers can tap into and reach audiences of their respective niches. For marketers, it is a market in which you would be able to find unique genres and influencer niches that are not seen anywhere else. Ever heard of retro influencers? Yes, it’s a thing!
The US has the longest history of influencer marketing
Given that the US is the birthplace of major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube as well as lesser-known historical platforms like MySpace andVine which played a major role as catalysts for influencer marketing. Only Musical.ly (now TikTok) originated from China.
For example, people who started their career sharing videos on MySpace later shifted to YouTube which ultimately led to their success. More recent platform shifts that we have seen are influencers from Vine, Musical.ly, and Snapchat moving to more mainstream channels like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Big influencers like @jeffreestar, @daviddobrik and @annaakana are just a few names that benefited from this trend. YouTubers who are actors, models, and comedians on mainstream social media platforms have also broken into major Hollywood roles due to their social media success. There is also a rise of influencers from digital media companies like BuzzFeed and Refinery29.
How is US influencers’ content different or unique from other markets?
The US is amongst the few markets that have a number of Type A+ influencers ( > 6m followers) which fans they have gained from being pioneers on platforms like YouTube, Vine, and TikTok. American influencers are often trendsetters for international markets inspiring not only netizens (but sometimes brands) to take part in challenges like the In My Feelings dance challenge as well as recreating makeup looks by major makeup gurus like @jamescharles.
What are US influencers’ platform strategies? (one vs many)
For the most part, Americans have the first-mover advantage and influencer marketing is no different. This also makes the US market highly competitive – pushing most (if not all) influencers to be platform-agnostic content creators to keep up with the competition. That is why as marketers will need to take a multidimensional approach when collaborating with influencers across different social media platforms when planning for campaigns.
How well do they work with brands?
Other than the pressures of staying relevant and engaged with fans, creators (a.k.a. influencers) are also feeling the pressure to stay creatively independent. More influencers especially YouTubers are asking fans to donate to their Patreon, a crowdsourcing platform for creators. This helps the creator keep the channel’s original flavor while relying less on brand deals to keep afloat. So what does this mean for brands? We think it is ever more important for marketers to sell their ideas to the influencers they want to work with and ensure that it matches their online personas and audience.
A great example of brand partnerships is MrBeast’s collaboration with Apex Legends to host the $20,000 YouTube Battle Royale – inviting other YouTubers to participate which later snowballed into more content posted by those participating YouTubers. Brands like Audible and Squarespace are other good examples of long term brand collaborations in terms of sponsorships. It is crucial to build a collaborative relationship between brands and influencers for a fruitful long-term relationship. Interestingly, with America’s diverse melting pot of cultures and laws, it brings a new dimension of niche influencer categories that are not seen anywhere else such as ‘cleanfluencers’, gun influencer and marijuana influencer.
American influencers across Types A to E are almost equally commercial; influencers on average post 28% branded posts overall. This is hopefully a guide for marketers who plan to launch an influencer campaign and don’t know where to start. As mentioned above, it is recommended to partner with Type B influencers for the best reach and Engagement Rate ratio. If budget constraints are faced, you should reevaluate your influencers list to determine if your campaign needs either quality engagements (Type B) or reach (Type A).
What about Type A, C and E influencers?
As America is a large country with over 329m in population, the number of A list (Type A & A+) influencers are many but they are also picky and understand the ramifications of a bad brand partnership (which will likely lose rather than gain audience).
Marketers should consider influencers Type C and E when planning for an engagement campaign or campaigns for niche products and services; with focus on the influencer, brand fit, and content collaboration. Otherwise, Type A influencers can still be great partners for awareness campaigns.
- American influencers have an average of 5.09% Engagement Rate.
- Across all influencer types, they post 4-5 times per week with an average of 1-2 branded posts.
- The highest reach and Engagement Rate is with 201k – 1.5m followers (Type B) influencers at 6.35% Engagement Rate (more than 1.3x Type A).
- American influencers score just below Australian influencers (5.48%) in average Engagement Rates but are still higher than Indonesia (4.62%), Malaysia (2.48%) and Singapore (2.65%).
- Different from other markets, most of the influencers in Type A and B are platform agnostic and oftentimes, full-time YouTubers from an array of categories including mukbang, comedy, photography, and music.
- America has a long history of influencer marketing due to its first-mover advantage in the internet space which pours over into many American influencers being trendsetters for brands and international markets.
- America is highly diverse and multidimensional which is seen in the varying influencer categories and niches i.e. ‘clean-fluencers’ and ‘gun-fluencers’.
- Type A influencers are still important for awareness campaigns but Type B influencers have the best reach and Engagement Rate ratio.
- But if Type A and B are not an option, Type C and E should be considered next for engagement campaigns and niche products and services.
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