When you read most posts pertaining to social media marketing, you’re going to hear the word “engagement” over and over again. More posts than not will have strategies talking about how to boost, measure, or analyse engagement.
This is largely because your social media engagement rate is so crucial for multiple reasons.
In this post, we’re going to go over everything that you need to know about social media engagement rates, including what social media engagement is, why your engagement rate matters so much, how to calculate it and a few tips to boost engagement no matter which platform you’re using.
What Does Engagement Mean?
First things first: What exactly does engagement mean in terms of social media marketing?
The definition may vary slightly depending on who you ask and what specifically they want to measure, but social media engagement refers to any visible actions users are taking to interact with your account or its content.
In most cases, when people talk about an engagement rate, they’re talking specifically about interactions on a post. Think likes, shares/retweets, saves, comments and clicks.
Some social media marketers only count visible actions that work as social proof as engagement, such as likes, shares and comments. Others take “invisible” metrics like clicks and saves into account because it’s still a significant interaction that shows that the content is valuable.
What Is a Social Media Engagement Rate?
Your engagement metric tells you how many people are interacting with your account. (This can be total number of likes, comments, clicks and shares in a set period of time across your entire account or on a specific post).
Your social media engagement rate, on the other hand, calculates how often people are engaging with your content compared to how many people are seeing it or could see it. We’re going to look at exactly how to calculate your social media engagement rate in just a few sections.
Why Your Social Media Engagement Rate is So Important
Your social media engagement rate is vital on every single platform that you’re marketing on for several different reasons.
The first is simple: You want to know how many members of your audience are interacting with your content. The number of likes and clicks alone means nothing.
An account with 200 followers and 50 likes is a lot more impressive than an account with 10,000 followers and 50 likes, for example. The first account has a 25% engagement rate; the second only has a .5% engagement rate.
This is a huge indicator of the quality and relevance of your content. Higher engagement rates are showing that users are seeing, interacting with and finding value in what you’re posting on each individual platform. They’re a realistic look at how you’re performing and it makes it easier to get a better understanding of how you’re really doing compared to other competitors.
And there’s another reason engagement rate is so important: Social media platforms factor it into their algorithms when determining what content to show high in social media feeds and to which users.
Posts and Reels with high engagement are going to be shown more to other users and higher up in users’ feeds. They’re more likely to appear as “suggested” content. This is true on most major platforms, which is why you see so many posts with hundreds or thousands of likes and comments showing up so frequently.
The Glossary of Terms You Need for Social Media Engagement Rate Calculation
First, let’s define a few key terms here so that we’re all on the same page:
- Reach— This is the number of individual users who see your post; if 50 people see your post, the reach is 50, even if they each saw it twice
- Impressions— The number of times your post was seen in total; if 50 people see your post and each see it twice, your impressions will be 100
- Follower count— This is the total number of people following your specific individual social media profile (on Facebook, they can “follow” you and not “like” you)
- Saves— This is available for some platforms like Instagram or Pinterest as a native feature, where users can store posts, videos, or Reels that they found valuable; it is not referring to people saving the content on third-party platforms, which is more difficult to track
- Shares— This can include both shares through a private message and shares onto someone’s own profile, though some social media sites only give you data on the latter
How to Calculate Your Social Media Engagement Rate
Your social media engagement rate is clearly important— so how do you calculate it?
Some social media marketers calculate engagement rate by dividing total engagement by the number of followers on the account. This determines your engagement rate out of all users who could potentially be seeing the content organically from your own Page.
Others prefer to calculate the engagement rate by dividing engagement by either reach or impressions. This allows them to see how often the content is engaged with compared to how many people are seeing the content.
Let’s take a look at how to calculate social media engagement rate with each method and the pros and cons of each.
Social Media Engagement Rate Calculated by Followers
Social media engagement rate that’s calculated by using your profile’s total follower count is best when you want to get a solid understanding of your overall account performance. This will give you a good idea of your total engagement rate as it stands right now (not just per post).
We typically don’t recommend using follower count to calculate engagement rates for individual posts as a metric when evaluating success unless you’re trying to understand the implications of organic reach; impressions and reach are more accurate.
The downside to using a social media engagement rate calculated with followers is that some engagement may come from non-followers.
To calculate your social media engagement rate with follower count, simply do the following:
Total engagement on your account in a set time period / Follower count on your account = Engagement rate
Social Media Engagement Rate Calculated by Impressions
Calculating your social media engagement rate by impressions is another popular option. This can help you get a better idea on how much engagement you’re getting for how many views your content is receiving.
Keep in mind, too, that your followers won’t be the only ones engaging with your content.
On LinkedIn, if I like someone’s post, a solid chunk of my followers may see the other person’s post in their feed. Instagram Reels feeds are almost entirely made up of content from accounts that users don’t follow.
Impressions and reach can easily exceed your follower count, making them good metrics to evaluate the engagement rate of individual posts. While we prefer using reach because it gives you a better idea of engagement per individuals seeing the content, impressions can work.
To calculate social media engagement rate by impressions for individual pieces of content, use the following formula:
Engagement on a post / Total impressions on the post = Social media engagement rate
You can also calculate your account’s social media engagement rate this way using this formula:
Total engagement on your account in a set time frame / Total impressions for your account in that set time frame = Social media engagement rate
Social Media Engagement Rate Calculated by Reach
When you want to evaluate how successful your account has been at increasing engagement or how relevant individual posts are, calculating your social media engagement rate by reach is a great choice.
Impressions can be a muddy metric because it tells you how many times a post was viewed—not necessarily by how many people.
Reach is concrete. 100 people saw your post and 20 engaged in some way. That’s a solid understanding of how many people interacted after seeing a Tweet, Facebook Live, Pin, Instagram Reel, or any other type of content you can create.
To calculate social media engagement rate by reach for individual posts, use this formula:
Engagement on a post / Reach for that post = Social media engagement rate
You can, as you’ve likely guessed, use a similar formula to calculate your account’s total engagement rate by reach. That formula can be seen here:
Total engagement on a post in a set time period / Total reach for your account in that set time period = Social media engagement rate
4 Tips to Boost Your Social Media Engagement Rate
There are plenty of strategies you can use to boost your engagement rates and it can vary by each individual platform.
That being said, there are 4 solid tips you can use to boost your engagement rate on each individual platform. Let’s take a look at each.
1. Add Images & Videos
Some platforms require this, but for those that don’t (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), it’s a great practice to have.
Mixed media posts— aka those with images or videos in addition to text— have significantly higher engagement rates than those that are just plain text.
A single image, a GIF, or even a short video attached to a post can go a long way toward getting attention and engagement.
Bonus tip: If you want to really get results, opt for actionable media like infographics with fun facts or a DIY tutorial.
2. Engage Meaningfully
Want to get more engagement? Make it clear that you’re excited about building relationships with customers on your social media platforms.
This means that you should be posting content that includes a CTA every so often to share their thoughts, pick their favourites, or tell their story.
It also means thanking them for their comments, answering their questions and leaving responses that indicate that you appreciate their jokes and sense of humour.
3. Don’t Buy Fake Followers & Likes
A lot of accounts are tempted to purchase fake likes or followers, especially when they’re first starting out. They want that social proof.
Others use what we like to call the “follow-for-follow-and-then-unfollow” strategy. You do follow for follow… and then wait a few days to unfollow them so it looks like you have a lot of people flocking to your brand.
Both are bad and don’t work. You end up with an inflated follower count… but no change on the engagement meter. This sinks your engagement rate and not only will users notice, but the algorithms will, too.
Focus on organic follower building strategies that attract the right audiences to you. That’s the way to go.
4. Don’t Just Dump Links & Expect Results
This is one of our biggest pet peeves— brands that just do link dumping, posting links to their blog posts, landing pages, or product pages with little to no context except maybe a page title.
There’s nothing interesting that gives users a reason to click. Combine that with the fact that some platforms (namely Facebook) will push third-party, off-platform links lower in the algorithm.
That being said, it’s okay to share links. Just make sure you’re adding context, that a picture appears and that you give users a reason to click. Below is a great example:
Your social media engagement rate is one of the most important metrics that social media marketers should be focused on. It’s a valuable metric that can tell you a great deal about your actual on-platform performance for each account you have and give you insights into how to improve moving forward.
And one last tip: Some analytics tools will automatically give you an engagement rate for your account or for individual posts. Make sure you understand how it’s calculated before making any decisions based on that number so you can ensure you’re getting the data you think you are.
Want to learn more about how to improve your social media engagement rate? Check out our Social Media Marketing Intensive Course!