Marketing Insights & Reports

The 2022 Engagement Rate Benchmark for Influencer Content

We studied over a thousand beauty brands in the US, UK, and France to provide a benchmark of the average engagement rate they see on branded influencer content.
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Marketing Insights & Reports
The 2022 Engagement Rate Benchmark for Influencer Content
We studied over a thousand beauty brands in the US, UK, and France to provide a benchmark of the average engagement rate they see on branded influencer content.

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We analyzed influencer content mentioning more than 1,000 beauty and personal care brands on social media in three markets (United States, United Kingdom, and France) to provide a benchmark you can use to gauge performance and set targets for your campaigns.  

In this benchmark, we present average engagement rates by influencer tier and platform (Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube), across four major beauty categories (cosmetics, skincare, fragrance, and hair care). 

You will also find examples of top performing branded influencer content across categories and platforms, as well as, discussions on what some of the top brands are doing well. 

Key Takeaways:

  • On Instagram, nano influencers had the highest average engagement rate of all the tiers (US, UK, FR).
  • On TikTok, micro influencers had the highest average engagement rate in France, while nano influencers had the highest average engagement rate in the US and UK.
  • In the US, TikTok earned the highest average engagement rate for skincare and hair care, while Instagram still remains king for fragrance and makeup. 
  • In the UK, Instagram is the highest average ER earner for most categories, with the exception of TikTok earning the highest for hair care. 
  • In FR, Instagram earned the highest average ER for all categories except fragrance. 
  • Brands featured: Morphe, Milani, Framar, e.l.f., Makeup Revolution, Olaplex, Beauty Bay, Tarte Cosmetics, and Garnier. 

United States

Snapshot

  • In the US makeup is the most engaging category, with a total average engagement rate (ER) of 1.95% across all platforms. Hair care is the second most engaging category with an ER of 1.74%, followed by skincare at 1.67%, and fragrance at 1.57%.
  • TikTok earned the highest average engagement rate for makeup and hair care. However, Instagram showed the highest engagement rate for the fragrance and skin care.

Content that wins - US

  • The rise of TikTok hair care routines? 2020 was all about the multi-step skincare routine. In 2021 this type of content has seemingly transferred over to hair and scalp care. Micro-influencers won the highest engagement rate for this hair care content on TikTok in the US, some of the highest earners included Kelsey Martin (@rosalierouge), Sommer Jean (@sommerjean), and Joyclyn Ragira (@joyclynragira). As well as salon artists like Kristen O'donnell (@kristen_o_beauty) and Lindsey Marie Olson (@lindsey.marie.olson).
  • Fragrance finds its footing on Instagram. Even though it has been historically difficult to market online, fragrance was the category with the highest engagement rate on Instagram in the US. Influencers have a wide range of successful content from basic tips (like how to layer perfumes), to being strictly descriptive (listing ingredients and offering direct comparisons), to conveying a perfume’s “essence” through emotions and imagery. A great example of that last one comes from one of Crystal’s (@conceptualcrys) captions: “Scents are so personal for me - it takes me to a time, a person, a memory… Blanche is by far my favorite scent - for any occasion, It reminds me of pure innocence with a side of mystery”.
  • The art of Instagram skincare. We know that skincare initially rose to fame due to highly educational content, and while that still resonates with audiences we’re starting to see more “artsy” content emerge. Autonomous sensory meridian response (aka ASMR) videos first gained popularity on YouTube, where creators used gentle everyday sounds (whispering, eating, etc) to trigger a tingling relaxing sensation in listeners. Now this trendy video format has made it to the beauty industry, and is particularly popular for skincare. At the opposite end of the spectrum — content highlighting the texture, or visual aspect, of skincare products are also popular. Check out #texturetuesday to follow this trend. 
Tip: Are you still trying to figure out your Instagram vs TikTok strategy? One of the biggest mistakes you can make is using the same content for both platforms. Find out why here. 

Engaging brands - US

These are a few brands that had interesting influencer partnerships that earned them high Brand Vitality (VIT) scores and high engagement rates in 2021. To see a ranking of top performing brands by VIT, take a look at our monthly leaderboard.

Morphe: A three-pronged VIP strategy

  • Average engagement rate: 3.4% 
  • VIT score: 184K 

Over the course of the year, Morphe has had 42 VIP influencers actively mentioning them across all platforms, yet only a few of those influencers were paid for sponsored posts. So what’s working? For one, the brand’s “Morphe X” series where they partner with well known influencers or brands on makeup collections. In 2021, the brand had huge partnerships with Charli and Dixie D’ Amelio, Avani Gregg, and Jaclyn Hill. 

Not only did this ensure them many mentions from those influencers’ accounts, it earned them organic mentions from those influencers’ friends accounts (e.g. Madi Monroe posting about Morphe X Avani Gregg). 

Second, Morphe creates great products and then works really hard to get them into the hands of well known makeup artists. There’s nothing quite as effective as having your product become a staple tool like Morphe’s brushes and palettes have become for the likes of Patrick Starrr, Manny Mua, and Pat McGrath. 

Last but not least, Morphe seems to be really good at creating tailored partnerships. Our research shows that there is quite a lot of diversity in the types of campaigns Morphe will run with VIP influencers. For example, its Pride partnership with Todrick Hall (@todrick) that gave 100% of sale proceeds to the Trevor Project, or it’s mini day-cation partnership with Karen Sarahi Gonzalez (@iluvsarahii) - who is a mix of beauty, lifestyle, and travel influencer - to promote its Sweet Oasis collection. It’s clear that Morphe is good at listening and researching so it can create collaborations that are tied to the influencer’s values and personal profile. 

Milani: People and price inclusivity 

  • Average engagement rate: 3.3%
  • VIT score: 44.9K

Milani is a much smaller brand than Morphe, yet is only a tenth of a percent behind in average engagement rate. What seems to make this brand successful is its strong emphasis on inclusivity. 

Inclusivity comes to life in its influencer marketing program in two ways: first, representation. Milani features diverse folks like Naima (@naimaakhter_), Niara J. (@niaraj_), and Jessica Lorena (@themexicanbeauty) on its own social pages, and it partners with diverse influencers like Alessandro (@muaalesandro), Laylo Qasim (@Neko_chann), Simmi Nijjar (@simmmimakeup), and Becca Lee (@beccaleebeauty) to create sponsored content that earns very high engagement rates. 

The second way it shows inclusivity: price points. Milani has leaned into being the choice brand for “high quality drugstore makeup”. For example, a type of organic content that earned the highest engagement rates are “dupes” posts, or videos where influencers show how Milani products can be substituted in for more expensive products. Some of their most successful examples of this style include were created by Allie Gardiner’s (@allieglines) Milani dupe post for Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks, Woojung Yi’s (@woojungyi) Milani dupe post for Milk Makeup’s Supercharged Cheek & Lip product, and Rose Siard’s (@roseandben) Milani dupe post for KVD foundation. This last one was so successful that Milani even included a snapshot and link to Rose’s dupe video in a marketing email - prompting Rose to repost it yet again on her Instagram stories. The takeaway? Weaving a clear sense of purpose into your brand can help you pick the right partners, earn high quality brand love, and even illustrate the value of your products. 

Framar: Bold and creative #hairtok

  • Average engagement rate: 2.14%
  • VIT score: 61.8K 

Framar’s TikTok success seems to be in part due to the fact that it’s products work well for broader hair care trends. For example, creative, bold, and unique looks gained traction during the pandemic as consumers looked for ways to liven up their hair. Similarly, some of the top performing organic content came from nano, micro and mid-tier hair stylists creating bold and colorful looks using Framar’s products. For example, Stephanie Stowers (@stephaniestowers_stylist) created her niece's “dream hair” color using Framar’s foil products, and Shannon Brookes (@fairygodmothair) got even more creative with a series of videos of her using Framar’s products to create Harry Potter themed hair colors. What seemed to boost Framar’s success even more was the fact that these trends translated over to its paid collaborations. For example, Kayla Marie Boyer (@kayla_boyer) posted about how to correct hair coloring, and influencers like Britney Tarpley (@britney.snips) and Kyra Hirokane (@hair.by.kyrahiro) created bright and fun hair looks using Framar’s products. 

Tip: The fast paced and expansive nature of social media can make it tricky to identify trends early on. A great solution for brands is to partner with nano, micro, mid, and macro influencers who are in the know and can quickly test out new trends. 

United Kingdom

Snapshot

  • In the UK makeup is also the most engaging category, with a total average engagement rate of 2.92% across all platforms. Skincare is the second most engaging category with an average ER of 2.69%, followed by fragrance at 2.36%, and hair care at 2.02%.
  • TikTok earned the highest average engagement rate for hair care and skincare. However, Instagram showed the highest engagement rate for makeup and fragrance.

Content that wins - UK

  • Satisfying and seasonal Instagram skincare. Similar to the US, it appears that UK influencers and their audiences enjoy more artsy skincare content. Hashtags like #texturetuesday, #texturethursdays, #firstscoop, and #firstscoopfriday are on the rise, denoting content that is focused on showing the ooey, gooey, and creamy textures of skincare products. Another content trend that is on the rise in just the UK - skincare products for different seasons. Nano influencers like @skinstans posted about the new products they added into their skincare routines at the turn of the autumn and winter seasons.
  • Glowy BIPOC makeup on Instagram. Nothing’s new about the allure of BIPOC creators - they have been leading trends and creating culture in the beauty industry for ages. So it’s unsurprising that we found that there were quite a few BIPOC influencers who were high engagement rate earners in the makeup category on Instagram. However, when looking further at their content we found that high ER earning BIPOC nano influencers like Naomi Motunrayo (@naemontie), @sknglow_, and Rubiny (@bautybyrubiny), mostly focus their content on simple, glowy makeup looks. It’s possible that this is due to the beauty industry’s lack of basic makeup products that work for diverse skin tones and shades. If you don’t have the basics, how can you get creative?
  • Expert-led TikTok hair care. Hair care has really taken off on TikTok in the UK, and leading the charge are hairstylists that have audience sizes of micro influencers. Content with the highest engagement rates are typically tutorials or transformations, and could cover anything from creating a headband out of hair, to coloring hair with foil, to showing the coverage of a hair mask, to showing creative hairstyles (like a Halloween themed braid). 

Engaging brands - UK

These are a few brands that had interesting influencer partnerships that earned them high Brand Vitality (VIT) scores and high engagement rates in 2021. To see a ranking of top performing brands by VIT, take a look at our monthly leaderboard.

e.l.f.: The power of deep partnerships and listicles

  • Average engagement rate: 5.23%
  • VIT core: 47K 

e.l.f.’s paid collaborations earned a very high average engagement rate (7.24%), a significantly higher average rate than organic content (4.83%). 

One key element that likely contributed to its success — the brand’s ability to build deep, long standing relationships with paid partners. e.l.f. not only gives these influencers creative freedom, it offers them opportunities to provide their followers immediate and exciting value (e.g. they ran giveaways with multiple influencers offering $200 worth of product). 

This all culminates in engaging sponsorships that also include a lot of organic love. For example, Lena Bagrowska (@lenkalu) had six sponsored posts over the course of the year but also included e.l.f. in 18 other organic posts. Similarly Ling K Tang (@ling.kt) had three sponsored posts and mentioned e.l.f. in 37 other organic posts, and Michael Brooks (@the_brooksbrother) had five sponsored posts, but mentioned e.l.f. in 30 other organic posts. 

These organic mentions (from paid partners and others) often included e.l.f. in a list of products and brands that have been used to create a bold or beautiful makeup look. While some brands may think being listed alongside competitors isn’t ideal, it’s important to remember that this type of organic content is powerful. In fact, some brands theorize that being included in this type of “brand listicle” actually feels more authentic because consumers naturally lean towards buying a mix of brands anyway. 

Makeup Revolution: Calling in creativity

  • Average engagement rate: 3.58%
  • VIT score: 73553.37 

Makeup Revolution is great at inspiring creativity and artistry, and it shows in their campaigns. For example, its paid sponsorships and gifting efforts resulted in super engaging posts that featured creative makeup looks. Meghan Beth (@meghanbethh) created a sponsored post with emoji inspired makeup, Shavonte Dill (@shavonte_dill) created a gorgeous Winx-inspired water fairy look with items gifted from Makeup Revolution, and Caitlin Darling (@caitssdarling) created a Euphoria inspired look with gifted Makeup Revolution items. 

Makeup Revolution carried this creative spirit even further in a April 2021 campaign with influencers like Abby Robers (@abbyroberts), called the #creatorrevolution contest. In this campaign, Makeup Revolution tapped into every audience member’s desire to be creative and famous. The #creatorrevolution contest invited beauty enthusiasts to participate in the contest by posting themed makeup looks for the chance to earn a $100k creator contract. 

It was honestly a win-win: not only did Makeup Revolution rack up a bunch of brand awareness and engagement, it also was able to source a bunch of fresh, creative beauty gurus for its team.

Olaplex: Two key promo strategies

  • Average engagement rate: 2.35%
  • VIT score: 13905.33 

Olaplex was another brand that saw sponsored posts (2.46%) earn a higher average engagement rate than organic posts (2.18%). There were two types of paid content that performed best — affiliates and third party promos. 

The use of affiliate codes and terms have generally increased by 20% over the past year, as brands look for a way to tap into the rise of social commerce

Tip: If you’re ready to integrate social commerce into your influencer marketing strategy, Traackr has a suite of tools to help you integrate workflows, manage relationships, and measure impact with transparent metrics.

Olaplex was no different, and saw success with influencers like Samantha (@skinacidtrip) and Carla Allsopp (@belle_envie) sharing personalized affiliate codes alongside lists of Olaplex products they use and recommend. 

The other type of paid promotions that got a lot of engagement were actually run by third parties, and it is a little unclear what involvement Olaplex had in creating these campaigns. Hair salons like Regis (@regisuk) did a Olaplex giveaway with Joanne Ixer (@joanneixer), and beauty retailer Cult Beauty (@cultbeauty) commissioned sponsored posts from influencers like Jess Elle King (@jesselleking) and Sali Hughes (@salihughes) for Olaplex giveaways, and Leal Alexander (@curlgallal) for a curl care routine with Olaplex products. 

France

Snapshot

  • In France makeup is the most engaging category, with a total average engagement rate of 3.65% across all platforms. Hair care is the second most engaging category with an average ER of 3.18%, followed by skincare at 3.15%, and fragrance at 1.71%.
  • Instagram earned the highest average engagement rate for makeup and hair care. However, TikTok showed the highest engagement rate for makeup and skincare.

Content that wins - FR

  • Skincare photos on Instagram. While influencers in the UK and US appear to be using a lot of video content on Instagram, influencers in France seem to stick to still photo posts while maintaining relatively high engagement rates. Nano influencers like VIC (@viccomes), Charlene Beaufrere (@cha1326), Alison (@mumof.mael), and Océan (@diaryofascorpion) simply post nice photos of the skincare product, alongside a lengthy caption describing it’s ingredients and/or how they use it in their personal routines. This could also mean that there is an opportunity for brands to experiment with Instagram videos more!
  • The art of hair styling. Unlike in the US and UK, French influencers do not seem all that interested in bold and colorful hair. Instead, high performing hair content on Instagram and TikTok is more focused on hair texture and style - from straight, sleek locks, to curly volume, to expertly done up braids, pigtails, or buns. Some of the influencers with the most engaging content of this type are Ilona (@ilonaaln), Cecilia Laulanne (@cecilialaulannee), and Maroua Bekkouche (@thedollbeauty). 
  • Editorial style makeup. In the US, it seems like popular makeup looks are typically super colorful and creative or natural and barely there. Meanwhile in France, while both of these makeup looks are popular, there’s also a third that captures a lot of attention. Many influencers on both Instagram and TikTok like to create glossy and sleek makeup looks that are highly editorial and glamorous. The colors used are often fairly neutral, but foundation, contouring, eyeshadow, and lipstick is much heavier than a natural look. Think glam you may wear on the runway or on a red carpet!

Engaging brands - FR

These are a few brands that had interesting influencer partnerships that earned them high Brand Vitality (VIT) scores and high engagement rates in 2021.  To see a ranking of top performing brands by VIT, take a look at our monthly leaderboard.

Beauty Bay: Fantastic makeup looks

  • Average engagement rate: 6.50% 
  • VIT score: 13304.69 

Contrary to the color neutral, heavy glam makeup looks that generally work in France, Beauty Bay is often mentioned alongside makeup looks that look more like paintings. 

In both sponsored and organic content, influencers will include Beauty Bay in a product roundup alongside their ultra creative looks that tap into the fantastic. Beauty Bay’s eyeshadow palettes are particularly popular in these types of posts, and the Fiery 2.0 42 Colour Palette was especially popular in 2021. 

Examples of successful content included, Siana’s (@sianamakeup06) mythical looks playing with color foundation, color contacts, and props like fake butterflies, gems, and pearls. Janani Selvaradj’s (@jananiselvaradj) personification of things like ice and snow, Cruella de Vill, aliens, and bumblebees. Sacha Cavaliere (@sachacvl) using her whole face and chest to create makeup looks depicting things like forests, butterflies, kamehouses, and even the polar express train. Key learning? Sometimes it can pay off to go against the grain!

Tarte Cosmetics: TikTok trend starters

  • Average engagement rate: 5.77% 
  • VIT score: 6618.89 

One of the coolest things that Tarte Cosmetics pulled off this year that also earned high engagement was its collage eyeshadow hack. Tarte posted this video describing how to get the perfect eyeshadow by blending several colors together on its TikTok profile. 

Influencers like Chad Monroe (@thefrenchbeautyboy), @sweethings9, and others then dueted the video and tried out the hack themselves with Tarte’s voiceover sound in the background. 

This didn’t just gain popularity in France - influencers from all over the world like Chelsea Aberkane (@borealis_beauty), Lulu Belle Hale (@lulubellehale), and Grace Myu (@gracemyu) also reposted this eyeshadow hack. This is a great reminder that TikTok is a place where consumers and influencers like to have fun! Experiment with creating owned content that is fun, educational, and easily replicable. 

Garnier: Fun TikTok challenges

  • Average engagement rate: 3.25% 
  • VIT score: 8493.15 

Similar to Tarte Cosmetics, Garnier did a really great job of creating fun and interesting content that drew folks in and resulted in a lot of organic love. Over the course of the year, Garnier created two different TikTok challenges. 

First, #hairfood2toi, a challenge that garnered approximately 799.9M views had influencers like JuJu (@julieferrat), Paola (@paolalct), and @iamsadz_ pretending to dance and jump into Garnier’s Fructis Hair Food product with a song from famous French rapper, Hatik, in the background. 

Second, #GarnierMaskMomentmask, a campaign that garnered 5.9B views, had influencers like William (@William_.e), Nour (@nourbenh) and JuJu (@julieferrat) showing how they unwind and fill the time while they do their skincare with one of Garnier’s face masks. Garnier even created a special theme song for this one!

How to use this data

These benchmarks are meant to provide a starting point so you can set approximate targets for your campaigns, evaluate potential partnerships, and confidently explore new platforms, categories, and markets. The content and brand insights are meant to give you an idea of what works, according to social platform performance data. 

However, remember that while best practices are valuable, so is thinking outside the box. What struck us most in researching engagement rate trends is that there are no hard and fast rules. Being brave and taking risks is often rewarded. 

If you’re interested in getting these types of insights on a regular basis, subscribe to our monthly beauty newsletter where we provide exclusive content to inspire your influencer marketing strategies, including:

  • Data-backed insights on rising beauty trends
  • In-depth analyses of successful brand/influencer collaborations
  • A benchmarked leaderboard of global beauty brand rankings

If you are an existing Traackr customer, this type of data is what powers our budget calculator, which provides recommendations for suggested influencer fees based on past performance. 

To learn more about Traackr, please contact us

Methodology

This report was created by Traackr, the system of record for data-driven influencer marketing, through deep influencer, campaign and market-level insights. For the purpose of this study, we analyzed 75,560 influencers primarily located in the United States, United Kingdom, and France who produce content mentioning 1,413 brands from our Beauty Brand Leaderboard

Influencers of all tiers (nano, micro, mid, top, and VIP) were included. We analyzed the content produced and shared by these influencers from January 2021 - November 2021. 

For the purposes of this study, we defined influencer tiers based on total audience size across all platforms as follows.

  • VIP: 5M+
  • Top: 1M+
  • Macro: 500K+
  • Mid: 50K+
  • Micro: 10K+
  • Nano: 1K+

If there were not a significant number of posts in a given category and country on one of the platforms, we excluded the data. 

Traackr works with brands around the world, some of whom are mentioned in this report, not all brands referenced are Traackr customers. 

About the Brand Vitality Score (VIT)

VIT is Traackr’s proprietary metric, developed to help you understand how content mentioning your brand performs, taking into account visibility, impact, and brand trust. You can learn how VIT is calculated in this whitepaper. 

  • Simple. By aggregating multiple data points into one, VIT provides a single metric for success that can be used to benchmark and track trends.
  • Transparent. The VIT methodology is easy to understand and highly actionable in uncovering where to invest to drive impact. 
  • Meaningful. VIT is based on known brand levers and has been optimized through machine learning to correlate with business metrics at the brand level.

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