When tracking social media performance, it can be easy to get confused about the metrics that best highlight the performance of your activity. It can be easy to get caught up in vanity metrics such as followers, likes, impressions, etc. These are all useful stats to have to hand, but any social media marketer will know that engagement related metrics give true perspective to your performance.
Understanding these engagement metrics, and more specifically your engagement rate can be a tough task as not all platforms give it to you on a plate. So with that in mind, here is everything you need to know to help you calculate your engagement rate.
What is social media engagement?
Before we start calculating engagement rate, it’s important to understand what is considered as “engagement” on social media.
Put simply, engagement is an action that a user has had to actively carry out, such as commenting, liking, or sharing a post. Simply viewing a post is far more passive and is not considered engagement as the user isn’t taking the time to interact with it.
The fact a user has taken the time and effort to either comment on your post or share it with their friends, for example, is far more beneficial to understand in comparison to impressions. It’s good to know how many people your posts reach, but if this is all you know it won’t help your strategy in the long run. Combining the two allows you to understand your reach and how many of those people are actually interested and engaging with your content.
This is where engagement rate comes into play.
What is engagement rate?
Engagement rate is a formula that determines the level of interaction a social media post gains in relation to the reach of the post. This is important to understand as if your posts are reaching a lot of people, but they aren’t engaging with your content, improvements are needed. Alternatively, if you can prove lots of people are interacting with your posts this could help you fit the social media corner to other stakeholders if required.
How do you calculate engagement rate?
There are numerous ways to calculate engagement rate, however, they all follow a similar base formula:
Engagement Rate = Total Engagement / Total Following x 100
This will allow you to work out how many of your followers are engaging with your content and posts, however, many marketers will be looking for a more in depth understanding of their engagement rate.
Some of the other common engagement rate formulas are:
Engagement Rate by Reach = Total Engagement / Reach Per Post x 100
The above formula will show you the engagement rate by reach for each post, if you want to look at multiple posts simply add all of the engagement rates together and divide by the number of posts.
This will help you get a more accurate understanding of how many people your posts are reaching and how many of those are engaging with them. It is more accurate than the above as it’s unlikely a post will reach all of your followers, however in some cases a post can reach more than just your followers.
It is important to remember that if a post has a very low or high level of engagement it can impact your engagement rate. For example, a post that reaches very few people, but if they engage with the post, it can make your engagement rate look disproportionately high.
Engagement Rate by Post = Total Engagement on a Post / Total Followers x 100
This calculation is very similar to the base calculation we started with, however, it just allows you to understand the performance of specific posts. If you want to find the average engagement rate for a selection of posts then you need to add up all the engagement rates and divide that by the number of posts. This can be useful for understanding the engagement rate of posts on a certain topic or when comparing posts that include images vs those that don’t.
By looking at engagement compared to your followers, it provides a more stable comparison as reach can fluctuate massively, however, it doesn’t necessarily provide the whole picture. These pros and cons are important to understand as you need to determine which is the most useful metric to report on.
Engagement Rate by Impressions = Total Engagements on a Post / Total Impressions x 100
Once again, this formula is very similar to those above, however, it provides a slightly different metric for comparison. Reach measures how many users view your content, while impressions track how often your content appears. The main difference between reach and impressions is one user could have multiple impressions, but the reach will not change as the post has reached one person.
The main drawback of this approach is the fact that your engagement rate will be lower than compared to your engagement rate by reach. Additionally, impressions can fluctuate massively between posts.
Key considerations when measuring engagement rate
Understanding the best way to calculate will ultimately depend on individual circumstances and what data is most useful for your needs. The above are just a selection of ways to measure engagement rate, other examples include:
- Daily engagement rate
- Engagement rate by views
- Engagement rate per platform
Like with all metrics and data, it’s important to understand the whole picture and avoid focusing on the number alone. This is most notable when looking at engagement rate by reach. If a post goes viral and the reach is far higher than usual this will cause the engagement rate to fluctuate considerably, the same can be said for posts with very little reach.
As a result, it may mean you need to use multiple formulas to truly understand the engagement rate of your overall social media strategy. You might want to do the basic formula to understand your average engagement rate, but then look at specific posts to see how they compare to the average. This will help understand how different factors such as topic, including links, images, or videos can impact your engagement rate.
Like with most things on social media it’s a case of trial and error to work out what works best for you. At the start, you may feel like you are drowning in data but once you have worked out the best formula for your needs you can be sure you are tracking the most relevant stats.