Engagement rates are the currency of the social media marketing industry in 2019.
Sure, vanity metrics like followers, likes, and impressions count for something. But engagement formulas put these metrics into a more reliable perspective.
That’s why engagement metrics are often used as selling points in social influencer media kits, or to gauge a social campaign’s return on investment. Yet oddly, there’s no standard formula for calculating engagement rates.
Engagement rate is a formula that measures the amount of interaction social content earns relative to reach or other audience figures. Think reactions, comments, and shares.
There are multiple ways to measure this engagement, and different calculations may better suit your social media objectives
So, it’s time to do the math. Add these formulas to your social media toolkit so you can be sure you’re using the right equation in the correct context.
Bonus: Get a free social media report template to easily and effectively present your social media performance to key stakeholders.
6 engagement rate calculation methods
These are the most common formulas you’ll need to calculate engagement rates on social media.
Total engagements typically represents a tally of likes, favourites, reactions, comments, shares, views, retweets, and sometimes include clicks, depending on which platform you’re using.
1. Engagement rate by reach (ERR)
This formula is the most common way to calculate engagement with content.
ERR measures the percentage of people who chose to interact with your content after seeing it.
Use the first formula for a single post, and the second one to calculate the average rate across multiple posts.
- ERR = total engagements per post / reach per post * 100
To determine the average, add up the all the ERRs from the posts you want to average, and divide by number of posts:
- Average ERR = Total ERR / Total posts
In other words: Post 1 (3.4%) + Post 2 (3.5%) / 2 = 3.45%
Pros: Reach can be a more accurate measurement than follower count, since not all your followers will see all your content. And non-followers may have been exposed to your posts through shares, hashtags, and other means.
Cons: Reach can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, making it a different variable to control. A very low reach can lead to a disproportionately high engagement rate, and vice versa, so be sure to keep this in mind.
2. Engagement rate by posts (ER post)
Technically, this formula measures engagements by followers on a specific post. In other words, it’s similar to ERR, except instead of reach it tells you the rate at which followers engage with your content.
Most social media influencers calculate their average engagement rate this way.
- ER post = Total engagements on a post / Total followers *100
To calculate the average, add up all the ER posts you want to average, and divide by number of posts:
- Average ER by post = Total ER by post / Total posts
Example: Post 1 (4.0%) + Post 2 (3.0%) / 2 = 3.5%
Pros: While ERR is a better way to gauge interactions based on how many people have seen your post, this formula replaces reach with followers, which is generally a more stable metric.
In other words, if your reach fluctuates often, use this method for a more accurate measure of post-by-post engagement.
Cons: As mentioned, while this may be a more unwavering way to track engagements on posts, it doesn’t necessarily provide the full picture since it doesn’t account for viral reach. And, as your follower count goes up, your rate of engagement could drop off a little.
Make sure to view this stat alongside follower growth analytics.
Bonus: Get a free social media report template to easily and effectively present your social media performance to key stakeholders.Get the free template now!
3. Engagement rate by impressions (ER impressions)
Another base audience metric you could choose to measure engagements by is impressions. While reach measures how many people see your content, impressions tracks how often that content appears on a screen.
- ER impressions = Total engagements on a post / Total impressions *100
- Average ER impressions = Total ER impressions / Total posts
Pros: This formula can be useful if you’re running paid content and need to evaluate effectiveness based on impressions.
Cons: An engagement rate calculated with impressions as the base is bound to be lower than ERR and ER post equations. Like reach, impression figures can also be inconsistent. It may be a good idea to use this method in conjunction with reach.
Read more about the difference between reach and impressions.
4. Daily engagement rate (Daily ER)
While engagement rate by reach measures engagement against maximum exposure, it’s still good to have a sense of how often your followers are engaging with your account on a daily basis.
- Daily ER = Total engagements in a day / Total followers *100
- Average Daily ER = Total engagements for X days / (X days *followers) *100
Pros: This formula is a good way to gauge how often your followers interact with your account on a daily basis, rather than how they interact with a specific post. As a result, it takes engagements on new and old posts into equation.
This formula can also be tailored for specific use cases. For instance, if your brand only wants to measure daily comments, you can adjust “total engagements” accordingly.
Cons: There’s a fair amount of room for error with this method. For instance, the formula doesn’t account for the fact that the same follower may engage 10 times in a day, versus 10 followers engaging once.
Daily engagements can also vary for a number of reasons, including how many posts you share. For that reason it may be worthwhile to plot daily engagement versus number of posts.
5. Engagement rate by views (ER views)
If video is a primary vertical for your brand, you’ll likely want to know how many people choose to engage with your videos after watching them.
- ER view = Total engagements on video post / Total video views *100
- Average ER view = Total ER view / Total posts
Pros: If one of your video’s objectives is to generate engagement, this can be a good way to track it.
Cons: View tallies often include repeat views from a single user (non-unique views). While that viewer may watch the video multiple times, they may not necessarily engage multiple times.
6. Factored Engagement Rate
In rare cases some marketers use a “factored engagement rate.” As the name suggests, factored engagement rates add more or less weight to certain factors in the equation.
For example, a marketer may wish to place a higher value on comments versus likes, weighting each comment as two versus one. The subsequent equation would look something like this:
- Comment-weighted ER = (Total comments x 2) + all other engagements / Reach per post *100
Obviously, this technique inflates the resulting engagement rate and can be misleading, especially since the use of factored engagement rates is not widespread. For this reason, Hootsuite does not recommend its use.
How to calculate cost per engagement
Another useful equation to add to your social media toolbox is cost per engagement (CPE). If you’ve chosen to sponsor content and engagement is a key objective, you’ll want to know how much that investment is paying off.
- CPE = Total amount spent / Total engagements
Most social media ad platforms will make this calculation for you, along with other object-oriented calculations, such as cost-per-click. Make sure to check which interactions they count as engagements, so you can be sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
Now that you know how to track your brand’s social media engagement, read up on how to boost your engagement rate.
Use Hootsuite to boost and track engagement rate across all your social media channels. Try it free today.