In the conversation of social media, it used to be all about follower counts. But with the widespread use of social following manipulation bots (like buying followers), social engagement rate is actually a much more accurate metric for an active social media profile.

What’s Social Engagement Rate?

That really big follower count on any profile is usually what the average person sees as a “strong following”. What the untrained eye may not realize is that it doesn’t mean anything if the engagement on posts doesn’t correlate.

So what should a brand be looking for when they’re investigating an influencer’s reach? Or what should a consumer be looking for when they want to see if a brand is being authentic? How many likes and comments are on posts relative to the follower count.

How do I Calculate Social Engagement Rate?

Yes, it’s a calculation but we promise the formula is simple.

  • Followers = the number of followers is shown at the top of everyone’s profile on Instagram.
  • Average Post Engagement = Number of Likes + Number of Comments on a post. Go on Instagram for desktop so you can quickly hover over the a few posts to quickly see the engagement per post. The number may fluctuate between posts, so take an average on some recent posts.

ENGAGEMENT RATE =

(Post Engagement / Followers) x 100

So for example, your account has 2000 followers. You check out all the latest posts and the average number of likes and comments is about 150. (150/2000)x100 = 7.5. Your engagement rate is 7.5%! Umm, so what does that mean?

What’s a “GOOD” Social Engagement Rate?

Back in the day, the rule of thumb was that 10% engagement on posts was healthy. With the prominence of ads (and subsequently algorithms) on these platforms, organic reach has gone down significantly. On Twitter and Facebook, engagement is as low as 0.5-1%, while Instagram Engagement is closer to 3-6%, making it the most engaging social platform, currently.

But how do you know if a particular user has a great engagement rate? Here are what engagement rates mean according to Scrunch:

  • Low engagement rate: 0% and 1.64%
  • Good engagement rate: 1.64% and 3.48%
  • High engagement rate: 3.48% and 6.67%
  • Very high engagement rate: 6.67% and 10%

What does it mean if my engagement rate is low?

If you’re investigating an influencer, a low engagement rate can be a result of black hat techniques in growing a following. Just say, they have a following of 20K but only seem to get 100-200 engagements per post; then something’s fishy. If any followers were purchased in the past, the accounts of those fake followers are often inactive and cause that discrepancy in follower count and engagements per post. That’s not to say that you should dismiss that influencer, but it’s good practice to also check that their comments are from your target audience and not all from the same people from their Instagram comment pods.

If you’re investigating your own engagement rate and it’s looking low, ask yourself:

  • Is your content engaging? Ask questions, create polls, seek opinions and get your users commenting.
  • Are YOU being engaging? When you receive comments, respond immediately and start conversations, it helps show that your post is engaging and increases the chances of it being seen with the Instagram Algorithm. Do the same on other people’s posts!
  • Do you post too frequently? Since it’s a numbers game. consider what the “number of posts” says about you and what users think they will expect to see from you. Usually when there’s over 1-2000 posts on instagram, it’s deterring. People are accustomed to using the archive tool to keep their content relevant and representative of their current brand. More than one post a day is too many for most accounts.
  • Do you use relevant hashtags and location tags? They’re the best way to reach new followers. Reach out within those tags too, to find your target audience.
  • Are you taking time to consider your overall brand? What story are you telling with every post and why would people want to engage with you? Are you too sales and promo focused? Are you relatable? If you’re losing sight of the point of Instagram (and just chasing engagement blindly and purposelessly), it might be time to realign and think about why you’re on there in the first place.

And don’t forget, on social media (and in life?!) you’ve gotta give love to get love:

Originally published on

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