January 10, 2017

What Does Engagement Rate Actually Tell You?

The point of creating content for your brand is to have your target audience see it and engage with it. Engagements are usually measured by metrics such as Likes, Comments, Shares, Retweets…etc. but often times, Engagement Rate also gets tossed into this mix. While Engagement Rate was surely intended to be useful, the more I work with it, the more I find the opposite to be true. I’ve often wondered, “What does Engagement Rate actually tell you?”

If you have a “high” Engagement Rate, you are lead to believe your post did well among your audience, but that is not always the case. For example, if you have two posts (A and B) and post B had more engagements and a higher Engagement Rate, then at first glance, you would assume that Post B was more successful. If you take a closer look, however, you might find that post B had mostly negative comments and did not, in fact, do well with your audience despite the “high” Engagement Rate.

Another reason that Engagement Rate may be less useful than you would believe is because of the inconsistency across platforms. The way Twitter innately provides Engagement Rate vs. the way Facebook and Instagram do is already different. Though there are ways to adjust this so you do have a consistent metric everywhere, any formula you choose still omits important information. For example, if you put a video up on Facebook, it’s safe to say that you want people to watch it. Watching the video should be more valued than Liking or Commenting. Ironically enough, video views are not counted as “Engagements” in Facebook’s Engagement Rate. Facebook is heavily skewing preference to video, and to not have video views included in Engagement Rate seems to make the metric more and more arbitrary.

A recommendation to consider to replace Engagement Rate in your reporting would be to implement Creative Tagging. Creative Tagging involves simply identifying the elements in the creative in each piece you post. By doing this over time, you will have aggregate data that will show you which creative performs best (by continuing to evaluate metrics like Impressions, Likes, Comments, Shares… etc. in tandem) among your target audience. Over a period of time you should see clear trends, which in my opinion, are stronger than any ambiguous number.

Tags: Best Practices, Strategy, Tools

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