Top 3 Social Media Metrics Explained (Elena Cucu)

Elena Cucu


Let’s start things off with a question:

When doing social media marketing, what are the three most important social media metrics you monitor to evaluate your brand’s social performance?

Usually, the number one on the runway is engagement. After that, many marketers place different social metrics like reach, follower growth, impressions, and conversion rate in the second and third places.

But while some social metrics—like follower growth, for example—are pretty self-explanatory, other metrics, such as reach and impressions, come with multiple calculation options and raise more related questions.

So, to shed some light on that, here it is—engagement, reach, and impressions—three of the most important social media metrics explained.

1. Engagement

For as long as social media has become one of the most successful marketing tactics—thanks to its ability to connect brands with their audiences and create loyal communities—engagement has turned into the most powerful social media metric out there.

Whether you’re doing social media reporting to analyze your brand’s profile performance on Facebook, Instagram, maybe Twitter, or even TikTok, you’ll surely look at your engagement rate first.

That’s because by measuring the level of interactions a post has received, you can get a clear understanding of your work’s value and also your audience’s interest in a certain topic.

But enough with the chit-chat. As there are so many questions out there about what exactly counts as engagement, the difference between total engagement and engagement rate, and how it should be calculated, here are some engagement-in-a-nutshell things you should know.

Engagement on Facebook

Total post engagement: Facebook defines total engagement as the total number of interactions a post receives, counting reactions, comments, shares, and clicks.

Average engagement rate per post: As the name suggests, this is a metric showing, on average, how much your audience interacts with the content posted in a given timeframe, displayed as a percentage.

Average engagement rate per post by followers: To calculate it, you have to divide the total number of interactions (reactions, comments, shares, and clicks) by the number of posts published in a certain timeframe, then divide the result you get by your total number of followers and multiply by 100.

Average engagement rate per post by reach: This is one of the marketer’s favorite ways of calculating the level of engagement.

It is a more accurate measurement option because 1. it’s a fact that not all your followers see your content, and 2. even non-followers can see your content (to which they were exposed through shares, hashtags, or whatever).

To calculate your average engagement rate by reach on Facebook, you have to divide your number of interactions (total engagement) by the number of posts your page published in a selected time, then divide the value you get by your total reach and multiply it by 100.

However, since reach is a private metric (available only for your own accounts), when making a comparison with competition, many marketers choose to adopt the engagement rate followers formula to have similar pillars of comparison.

Engagement on Instagram

Total engagement: What Instagram counts as total engagement is the sum of likes, comments, and saves that your posts receive.

While we talked a bit earlier about what the average engagement rate represents as a metric, there’s also worth mentioning that the possibility of calculating your average engagement rate by both followers and reach is also applicable on Instagram.

Average engagement rate by followers: For Instagram, this social metric can be calculated as follows: total engagement (likes, comments, and saves) divided by the number of posts published in a given period. The result is then divided by the number of followers and all multiplied by 100.

Average engagement rate by reach: Represented by the total engagement (likes, comments, saves) divided by the number of posts the profile published in a selected timeframe. The result is then divided by the total reach and all multiplied by 100.

Engagement on Twitter

Total engagement: A user’s interactions with a Tweet that are counted as engagement on the platform includes retweets, replies, follows, likes, links, cards, hashtags, embedded media, username, profile photo, or Tweet expansion.

Moreover, if you’re interested in knowing your average Twitter engagement rate, here’s the formula you should apply: divide your total engagement by the number of tweets in a selected time, then divide the number you get by your number of followers, and multiply it by 100.

Engagement on TikTok

As a video-exclusive social media platform, TikTok puts a great emphasis on video views.

So, while TikTok’s total engagement is defined as the sum of likes, comments, and shares, TikTok’s average engagement rate can be calculated by dividing total TikTok engagement by the number of videos posted in a specified time range. Then the result is then divided by the total number of video views and multiplied by 100.

To better understand and analyze your brand’s numbers, here’s what data revealed about social media engagement benchmarks in 2022 across the most popular social media platforms:

  • Facebook’s average engagement rate: 0.13%
  • Instagram’s average engagement rate: 0.83%
  • Twitter’s average engagement rate: 0.05%
  • TikTok’s average engagement rate: 5.96%

2. Reach

There are so many reasons why brands invest so much into social media marketing these days. Beyond being one of the best ways to increase brand awareness, social media marketing can have a great weight in helping businesses achieve all sorts of objectives.

And since we mentioned brand awareness, it is important also to specify this is also one of the primary business goals of any brand.

To measure this objective, in the case of social media marketing, you have to analyze one specific metric: social media reach.

Monitoring this social metric is essential since as it will not only measure how your brand awareness is growing but it will also tell you how successful different partnerships with influencers and other brands were.

On social media, the metric referring to the total reach can be defined as the total number of unique users exposed to a piece of content.

Average reach rate per post: This metric shows you the average percentage of people that see your posts and can be calculated by dividing your total post reach from a specific time range by your number of followers, then multiplying it by 100.

Also, remember that this formula can be applied to discover your average reach rate for all your social accounts.

3. Impressions

Now that we understand what reach is all about, it’s time to move on to the next most relevant social media metric that marketers should monitor—impressions.

This metric can also show you the potential virality of a post (or more)—but, as opposed to reach, impressions refers to the number of times a piece of content was displayed in users’ feeds.

While this is a monitored metric, especially in the case of ads, you can also try calculating your average impression rate per post for organic posts.

To do so, divide your number of shares by the number of impressions and multiply your results by 100.

Wrap up

Fully understanding social media metrics and how they are calculated will allow you to optimize your content better to reach your social media and business objectives!

Even if, in many situations, it’s great to have a social media analytics tool to do the math for you, it is also important to be prepared and know how to calculate all these metrics by yourself—you know, just in case!


Elena Cucu @elena
A data geek in love with storytelling. Creator of insightful social media studies. Full-time marketer, part-time dancer.


Tell Us Below:

What is the most important social media metric you pay attention to in your business and why?

6 Likes

@elena all of the above. For my clients, I make it easy: we montor comments and shares in real time when a post does exceptionally so they can see success as it happens, and understand why. Great article!

4 Likes

Thanks, Dorien! My first job actually was as a community manager, and I can say as well that this experience taught me how important it is to keep in touch with your audience regularly. Monitoring the comments and overall engagement can indeed give you so many insights into what your audience needs from you as a brand.

3 Likes

It depends. One of the most important statistical tests to run is to load up all your social media metrics available, your other metrics, and then the marketing KPI you’re judged on and see what has the strongest correlation to your desired outcome. Then you test to see if there’s a causal relationship or not. Sometimes there’s a social media metric that really matters. Other times, not so much. For me personally, Twitter followers actually matters. For my company, it doesn’t.

2 Likes