Facebook gives you a lot of numbers in the back end, but all of them – if you look hard enough – are deceptive. Sure, you can see your reach, but how does that reach compare to your competitors? You can see your engagement for given posts or entire categories of posts, but is it good or bad? Does it mean anything?
You can get an absurd amount of engagement with one of those “like this if you like X, share if you prefer Y, ignore if you want Z” posts, but very little of that engagement comes from people who actually want to do anything on your page. Plus, one viral post will skew all the numbers.
Before we begin, let’s put everything into context. Social Bakers does ongoing studies every year, and these are the statistics for 2014.
1: Engagement should be compared to the size of the page. A smaller page with a lower number of fans is going to have a higher reach and higher engagement levels. It’s also going to have a higher chance at having a tight, close-knit community, which you can’t find on the pages of global brands.
- Pages under 10,000 fans average around a .94% page engagement rate and a .65% post engagement rate. This is the best it’s going to get.
- Pages over 1 million fans average more like .28% page engagement and .11% post engagement.
2: Engagement should be compared to the industry of the page. Some industries have much more engaged audiences than others. This stands to reason; in some industries, the presence of thin resellers and boring businesses is high, whereas other industries have a much higher barrier to entry.
- Automotive pages have an average post engagement rate of .58%, which is high compared to others. Automotive dealers tend to need resources to break into the industry, making it harder to have low quality businesses.
- Financial pages have a post engagement rate around .30%. It’s easy to give financial information and advice, without that necessarily affecting the underlying business.
- Telecom pages have the lowest measured industry post engagement rate, at .23%.
3: Engagement should be compared to the reach of the page. This makes sense; a page with higher reach is going to reach more interested people, and have a higher percentage of their total audience engaging with their posts. This can also be compared to industry and page size.
4: Engagement is on the decline. This stands to reason, as it’s a derived metric that includes reach and audience figures. As your reach goes down, you reach fewer people with an organic post. This means your engagement rates without assistance are going to go down. Don’t worry if you see a minorly declining trend, or the work you put in has left you at a holding pattern.
Basic Facebook Engagement Rate
When you visit your Facebook insights page, or your Insights through a third party tool like Raven Tools, you’ll see a basic metric just called “engagement rate.” This is a specific measurement for each individual post, though you can see the same number for categories of posts as a whole.
This engagement rate is calculated, by Facebook, as the number of lifetime engaged users divided by the total number of people seeing the post. For example, if you posted an image, and 100 people saw that image, your reach would be 100. If 10 people liked, commented, shared or clicks the link in your image description, your engagement rate would be 10/100, or 10%.
The Hazard of Engagement Type
Facebook considers different types of action all to be “engagement” with a post, but not all types of engagement are created equal. For example, if your post is a text post and it’s long enough to have a “read more” option, clicking that option is considered an engagement metric. Yes, even if the user never clicks the link in your post, comments, likes or shares. Speaking of, likes, comments, shares, link clicks, video plays and any other sort of interaction with the post is considered engagement.
This means that Facebook’s measured engagement tends to be higher than your reasonable engagement numbers, particularly on videos and on long text posts. Don’t let it be deceptive.
Measuring and Monitoring
The first thing you want to do is measure your engagement to create benchmarks. You can do this at any time; it just gives you numbers you can compare your results to later on down the line, to see how your engagement numbers are performing.
You should consider two numbers. The first is the average engagement per post. You can calculate this on your own, or you can look into your Insights and pull numbers for individual posts or for post types. The second type is engagement per page, which is the average of all engagement your page receives in a given time.
Remember that anything affecting the reach of a post – particularly promoting or boosting the post itself – will affect the engagement rates as well. The percentage might not change, but the raw numbers will go up. Alternatively, the raw number for reach goes up but the engagement is low, leading to a lower engagement rate. Be aware of this possibility, and experiment to find posts you can improve.
You can’t take Facebook’s numbers and compare them to your competition, unless for some reason your competitors have let you have access to their Insights. Facebook holds this information privately, so you need to change your calculations to compare yourself to others.
First, reach: you have no way of seeing the reach of posts your competitors make. Therefore, instead of comparing engagement to reach for posts or for the page, you need to compare it to total number of fans. Do this for both your competitors and your own engagement, for comparisons.
Second, engagement types. You can’t see clicks, so the raw numbers for engagement will be down. The best you can do is come up with the total number of likes, shares and comments on a given post. Total these numbers for both your posts and your competitor’s, and you’ll have a reasonable number to compare.
Be aware that this number is going to be smaller than the ones Facebook Insights reports to you. Don’t be discouraged when your own figures are lower than expected; just compare them to your competition and see how they stand up.