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Okay. We’re social media managers. We’re digital strategists. Many of you are too. We’re sure you’ve heard that you should strive for a high engagement rate on your posts. But what exactly does that mean? What is engagement rate and why is it important?

So, here’s the catch. It seems that, in the social media world, we all agree that we want to foster high engagement rates, but we can’t even all agree on what that actually means!

What is engagement rate, anyway?

In doing some research, we read the top ten articles on the topic according to the All-Mighty Google. Some of these articles give an actual formula for calculating engagement rate, but they certainly don’t all share the same formula. Some of them shied away from giving a formula at all.

Some sources say engagement rate should be interactions divided by follower count, others say it should be interactions divided by total reach or impression count, and still others say it should be total interactions divided by number of posts in a given timeframe. Talk about conflicting theories!

So, let’s step back and think about this for a moment. Engagement Rate. We’re looking for a way to measure successful engagement, right? What qualifies as engagement? Well, that depends on what social media platform you’re using, but on many it is: likes, comments, shares or the equivalent.

A measured engagement rate should really be the number of people that engage with your content divided by the total number of people that see your content.

However, this is complicated by a few factors:

  1. A person could count as multiple engagements on a single piece of content if they like AND comment on it.
  2. People that SEE your content is not the same as your follower count. On most platforms, all of your followers do not see all of your content. You actually have to put ad dollars behind your content to feed it out to the masses. So this requires a little more digging into analytics to determine how many people are seeing your content.

So it seems that the best that we could do to calculate engagement rate, would be to combine all the interactions/engagements on a piece of content and divide that number by the total number of people that saw your content.

But what about follower counts? Well, a trending upward number of followers is definitely a good thing, as it will help more people organically see your content, but we do feel that follower counts are largely a vanity metric at this point in the social media world.

Why is engagement rate important?

Engagement rates are important because it gives you a measurement to actually gauge your impact, your success, for your brand. Be sure to get baseline statistics and then we recommend pulling your stats at least once a quarter to see how your strategies are working.

Remember, be authentic. Create authentic connections with your audience and you will see success in your work.