What Is an Engagement Rate?

What Is an Engagement Rate?
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What is an engagement rate? In digital social media marketing, an engagement rate is a reflection of how much interaction your audience has with a specific post. 

Though Facebook is nearly 20 years old, for many, the world of social media marketing is a lot like the wild, wild west. Considering there seems to be a new platform created daily — from Twitter and Instagram to TikTok and Clubhouse — marketers are often tasked with not only staying informed but adapting on the fly, too. This usually means creating one piece of content after another, from links to blog posts to images and videos.

Though it is generally understood not every post will be successful, marketers still take the time to measure the engagement rate to understand better what resonates with their followers and audience — and what misses the mark. An engagement rate is exactly as it sounds: the percentage of people who engaged with a post, including liking, sharing and commenting.

How to calculate engagement rate

The formula is simple: you take the number of interactions and divide it by the total number of followers on the social media channel. As an example, say you post a photo of a cute pup on National Dog Day on Instagram. You receive 3,200 likes and 500 comments. Your page has 10,200 followers. This means the engagement rate is: 2.7 percent.

The total engagement will thus change depending on what marketing channel you’re measuring. Some mediums, like TikTok, have shares, views and comments to be tallied. Others only have likes and comments. Each social media channel will be measured differently and, thus, require varying tactics.

Why is an engagement rate important?

One could argue the engagement rate is the most critical data point of social media marketing. By understanding each post’s success, marketers can guide their strategy, changing their post tactics and developing the right type of graphics and language for each channel. They can also understand which social media mediums are best for selling, best for brand awareness and best for the community. Having a high engagement rate can also indicate that your audience is the right one for a product, service or company.

When engagement rates are low, it means something needs to change, whether the content itself, the time of day you’re posting, or your target demographic. And low engagement rates can also provide a clue into those brands who purchased followers rather than earned them over time. For investors, a company will need to illustrate an engagement rate that is sincere and impressive, so it’s usually a priority for many marketers in this field.

How can you improve an engagement rate?

For those who are struggling to determine what your audience needs and wants from a brand, there are many ways to test the waters and see what sticks.

A few ideas include:

  • Switching up the time of day you post content on various social media platforms
  • Spice up the type of content you post, varying from text and photos to videos
  • Test caption lengths
  • Test the waters with a more personal, candid story to help the audience resonate
  • Create a contest or giveaway
  • Partner with another company

Common uses for engagement rate:

  • To understand the success of a social media campaign or post
  • To gain insight into what resonates with followers and the overall audience
  • To better provide the right type of content that aligns with brand goals
  • To help grow sales, customer appreciation, community and loyalty
  • To analyze the right timing for posts
  • To strategize content per social media channels
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About the author

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established travel and lifestyle journalist, editor, and content strategist. Since uprooting from Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 to Manhattan, Lindsay's work has appeared on several websites, including Travel + Leisure, Vogue, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Self, Refinery29, and countless others. While she is always up for the challenge of any assignment, her main areas of focus include travel, wellness, career, psychology, love and healthy living.