By Olga Nalivaiko
10. Dezember 2021

The ABC of Marketing Metrics - Part 4: Engagement

The ABC of Marketing Metrics - Part 4: Engagement

The whole idea of social media is based on interaction: the success of any information posted there is measured by the number and polarity of reactions it gets from the users - friends, subscribers, followers or however else they are called. The same is true for the advertising placed in social media: the more people interact with it, the better.

Definition of Engagement

“Engagements” is a broad term that encompasses all kinds of interactions with content and typically includes views, clicks, likes, shares, reposts and other actions that users take to express their interest and attitude.

What is the definition of “Engagement”?

IAB defines Engagement as “a spectrum of consumer advertising activities and experiences - cognitive, emotional, and physical - that will have a positive impact on a Brand”.

What are the different types of engagement?

What exactly is counted as engagements depends on specific social media but each of them provides the relevant metric in campaign reports. Some engagements are universal, such as “Likes” or “Comments”, while others are only available in one specific social network, such as “Get directions” in Instagram. Let’s take a look at the most common types of engagements.

  • Likes: A “Like” is a type of engagement that expresses the user’s approval or sympathy. This type of engagement can be found on almost all major social media platforms. The advantage of Likes for the users is that it takes a minimum effort from them to express their positive attitude. On the advertiser’s side, Likes are easy to collect and count. Likes were first introduced in 2005 by the video site Vimeo, but they really came into the wider public view when they were adopted by Facebook in 2009.
  • Comments: A “Comment” is a more detailed form of reaction, usually in the form of text or sometimes image, reflecting the user’s attitude towards the subject of the post or ad. Comments can be a powerful source of qualitative data but at the same time, they are more difficult to process and analyze. There are companies that use comments in social media to measure the attitudes to brands and companies.This kind of research is called Sentiment Analysis. It’s based on advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) methods and helps understand the emotional and empirical components of customer experience.
  • Shares and reposts: When users “share” or “repost” some content, they make it available to their own subscribers/followers, thus creating additional reach for the advertiser free of charge (organic). “Reposting” means the post will appear in the user’s own feed, while “Sharing” can be done privately with specific friends, subscribers or followers. Shares and reposts are relatively easy to count and they represent a more active engagement than a simple like.
  • Saves: A “save” means a user saves a post in his own area on social media. Saves differ from one media to another. For example, on Instagram a user can “save” a post and later go to the list of saved posts visible only to him or her and look through them. On Pinterest, users save posts to their own boards. A save also means a more active engagement than a like.
  • Link Clicks (or Click-Throughs): In most social media, it’s possible to add an external link to the post, leading to a campaign or brand website. Very often this type of engagement is more important to advertisers than any other reaction to the post since a click-through is a direct way to conversion. The difference between simple total clicks and link clicks is that in the latter case, the user clicks on a specific link leading to a URL either within or outside the social media, whereas the former includes all clicks, even likes and comments or clicks to expand the post to a full screen.

Why are engagement metrics important?

Of course, the ultimate measure of success in commerce is sales - or conversions in the digital world. Engagements can be regarded as preliminary steps in the funnel that can eventually lead to conversion. Actions measured by social networks mean that the user has a certain interest in the matter and can be selected for more targeted measures to stimulate conversion.

Engagements and derivative KPIs help advertisers assess the quality of their content based on the quantitative (how many people reacted to the post) and qualitative (what was the polarity of their reaction) data and then take the necessary steps to adjust their advertising strategy and tactics in order to cause more positive / avoid negative reactions as well as enhance the impact of the campaign.

Comparing the number of impressions to the number of engagements, marketers can develop their hypotheses, for example:

Your post has a high number of impressions but engagements are relatively low. This most likely means your content is not interesting enough or you chose a wrong target audience for it.

Your engagement metrics are high but conversions are low. This situation can also have different reasons, but in general it means the content of your campaign is not well aligned with your value proposition and your marketing mix needs to be adjusted in order to meet the expectations of your target audience.

How can you measure engagement?

In addition to count metrics representing the absolute number of specific engagement types and all engagements in general, advertisers actively use such metrics as “Engagement Rate” and “Cost per Engagement”:

Engagement Rate = Number of Engagements / Number of Impressions
Cost per Engagement = Total Spend / Number of Engagements
These metrics can be calculated at the ad, ad group or campaign level.

As you can see, these two KPIs are inversely related: if your campaign costs are at the average market level, a low Engagement Rate will most likely lead to high Costs per Engagement, and vice versa.

There are also a few variations of Engagements metrics that you might find useful in your specific circumstances:

Engagements by Reach:

Engagement Rate = Total Engagements / Total Reach

Since the basic Engagement Rate formula based on impressions doesn’t take frequency into account, this metric is a bit more accurate in telling us what share of the audience who saw the ad or post actively reacted to it. The problem is that reach data are not always available or accurate and that multiple engagements are counted individually even if several of them come from the same user.

Engagements by Followers/Subscribers:

Engagement Rate = Total Engagements / Total Followers (OR Subscribers)

In some contexts, advertisers are only interested in how their followers react and the rest of the audience is not important.

Daily Engagement rate:

Engagement Rate = Engagements per day / Daily impressions (OR Daily Reach OR Current Followers)

Standard Engagement Rate calculated and tracked on a daily basis to follow the dynamics of a campaign. In some cases it’s important to track how this metric evolves over time as a campaign is running.

Engagement Rate by views:

Engagement Rate = Total Engagements / Total Views

This metric is relevant for video posts or ads. The disadvantage is that the same user may view the video several times and that cannot be taken into account.

Are all engagements equally significant?

In some situations different kinds of engagements are not equally important to the advertiser. For example, imagine there is a specific campaign whereby likes and comments are of no importance and the advertiser is focused on video views and click-throughs alone. As a solution, when calculating the engagement rate, each kind of interaction can be given a weight as a coefficient to be multiplied by the number of engagements of the corresponding kind. This approach is not so widespread but might be helpful in some cases when only specific types of engagements do matter, but it’s obviously more difficult to calculate and the weights might also need to be reviewed and adjusted with time.

Qualitative use of Engagements data

Engagements data can also be used to build customer profiles and potentially, to predict their behavior. If you have access to the information about what people like or dislike, how they comment on things, what they share with others and how that correlates with their buying behavior, you could possibly improve the performance of your campaigns tremendously. However, the use of such information is limited by laws protecting personal data. Moreover, you need technical capabilities to gather, process and analyse your user profiles. Another question is how to do it at scale when you have thousands or even millions of people in your audience. But if you have an opportunity to gather first-party data - certainly upon the users’ consent - it can be a powerful tool in getting to know your audience better and eventually driving more targeted and more efficient campaigns.

What are the common Engagement Rate benchmarks?

Advertisers say, the average Engagement Rate range is 1-5%. According to the report published by Social Insider in January 2021, Instagram has an average rate of 1.16% for brand-related posts. Facebook has a broader spread of engagement rates with a median at 0.27%. On Twitter, the average engagement rate of brand posts is as low as 0.07%.

How to improve the Engagement Rate?

Improved Engagement Rates normally translate into improved Conversions, therefore advertisers are keen on provoking as many positive reactions as possible from their audience. How can this be achieved? Of course, every social media has its own unique features - and therefore, unique tips on how to increase Engagements. However, there are a few general guidelines to follow:

  1. Content: yes, the content of your posts and ads determines the user’s reaction. To engage with them, you need engaging content. First of all, it has to stand out - social media nowadays are visually overloaded and it’s easy for users to miss relevant and valuable information in the ocean of buzz. Images work better than plain text and videos may work better than images. Secondly, it has to be relevant in order to retain the attention. And thirdly, in many contexts it’s advisable to include a “Call to action” - an invitation for a user to take some desired action that has been proven to increase the engagement rate.
  2. Posting time: the time when your post or ad appears can have a tangible impact on the number of contacts and the quality of attention it gets. Be sure to post during the hours when most of your users are online.
  3. Hashtags: this is a special tool used in social media that helps attract attention to your posts. It helps attract new audiences that are searching for specific information or content.
  4. Interaction with users: be sure to interact with your users, for example reply to the comments they post or like their reposts if they share your content with other users.


Receive 4 times a year a summary of our articles most relevant to you.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Mercury Media Technology GmbH & Co. KG
Klostertor 1
20097 Hamburg / Germany
Get in touch - we speak 12 languages

© Copyright 2024 | Mercury Media Technology GmbH & Co. KG