Is There A Reliable Standard To Measure Social Media Engagement?

The ultimate currency of the social media marketing industry is the engagement rate. It is the key metric that’s often highlighted in the sponsorship pitch, the influencer media kit or the campaign summary. Yet, despite its widely recognized importance, there is no universally accepted standard for computing the social media engagement rate.

In its broadest terms, engagement rate is the level of engagement -- likes, shares, comments, etc. -- that a piece of social media content receives from an audience.

Engagement Rate = Engagements / (Reach OR Impressions OR Followers) x 100

While this generalized formula is accepted by all, the challenge is that each social media platform, agency and expert seem to have different definitions for getting to engagement rate. Thus, it has become incredibly frustrating for any brand attempting to measure its engagement on social media without a reliable, accessible, and common-sense metric across all platforms.



The Chaotic Landscape of Social Media Measurement

Getting to a reliable standard for engagement rate has proven elusive because of the current landscape of social media measurement:

1. There are no universally accepted social media metrics. With differing definitions of the metrics across platforms, it’s challenging to come to any consensus. Even the definition of a “post” is up for dispute.

2. There is no established methodology for measuring engagement rate. Engagement rate is calculated differently across platforms, with no visibility into how this rate changes over multiple posts.

3. There are challenges in obtaining access to social media data of other brands in a particular category. In order to do any benchmarking against competitors or give a category comparison, one needs to determine how to get access to other brands’ social media data.

A Solution: The Open Engagement Rate

In the hopes of getting to a reliable standard for social media engagement rate, the Open Engagement Rate was born as an open-source measurement that uses publicly available data and is completely transparent in its methodology.

The Open Engagement Rate methodology involves determining a brand’s daily engagement rate using follower counts as the denominator and then properly weighing each day’s engagement rate based on the volume of posts for that day.

A Simple Metric That’s Both Accurate and Adaptable

The flexibility with the Open Engagement Rate model allows brands to measure social media activity during any time period and compare brands' social media presence across leading social platforms in isolation or aggregation.

While there are numerous engagement metrics currently in use, the Open Engagement Rate is an attempt to bring some clarity, reliability and trust to a confusing landscape.

2 comments about "Is There A Reliable Standard To Measure Social Media Engagement?".
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  1. Ryan Maynard from Cafe Media, August 26, 2021 at 9:13 a.m.

    I like the idea of standardizing engagement rate measurement but I still don't understand why engagement rate is calculated based on followers instead of views.  Follower counts can be artificial/inflated.  IMO engagement rate should always be calculated based on post views (or impressions).  If a post generates 1000 views and gets 1000 likes/comments - isn't that a 100% engagement rate?  Yet in same scenario if the follower count is 100k then enagement rate would only be considered 1%?  

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, August 26, 2021 at 5:49 p.m.

    You make valid points Ryan.

    But I still have a concern with 'views'.   With some social media applications, you could be rapidly scrolling through your feed, and the app is able to determine the URL and ping that back to the source in a matter of millisecionds.   Human cognition requires a minimum of 200 milliseconds.   If those 'views' had a threshold of (say) 2-seconds then I think that would represent typical 'engagement'.   And of course engagement doesn'tautomatically mean a positive take-out.

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