Current Facebook Engagement Rate Calculation Needs Revision


Social media today is not only about having a meaningful community but it is also about monitoring and measuring. Measuring social media activities has always been debated upon and will continue to be. One of the reason is that we are measuring sentiments of human beings. A bit difficult but tools are getting smarter day by day.

Facebook, one of the largest social networks of the world is also home for more than 37 million brand pages with more than 10 likes. Most of the brand pages till date have abided to an engagement formula that considers your Likes, Comments and Shares, as shown below:



Why the present formula needs a revision

The above formula has been popular for a while but has some hidden problems that was recently listed by WiseMetrics. WiseMetrics, a company that is also in the business of measuring the ROI for Facebook brands has listed 5 flaws in this formula:

1.) It doesn’t include all interactions: The above formula only considers likes, comments and shares. The formula completely misses out the video, links and photo clicks by fans on Facebook.

2.) It is based on number of fans: The formula considers number of fans but what about friends of fans. Social media is about reach and by calculating only number of fans the formula ignores a vital thing.

3.) It is mixing fans data with fans and non-fans data: The formula takes into consideration a ratio out of interactions(made by fans and non-fans alike) with total number of fans only. In other words, it is deriving a ratio of the total number of likes, comments and shares made by fans and non fans from the total number of fans. A confusing way of doing it!

4.) It favors pages with high publishing rate: The current formula can be tricked if you post more, as shown in an example by Wisemetrics.

Engagement rate

So it clearly shows that the more you post, the more engagement can be driven by brands on Facebook, forgetting the definition of spam.

5. It measures interactions only and not users: The given set of formula is only measuring interactions without even considering unique visitors.

It clearly reflects that the formula of engagement that has been only focusing on likes, comments, etc. needs a revision. Hence, a new formula has been developed so that it can take care of the existing shortcomings.

New formula provided by WiseMetrics


The above formula has been derived by the team at WiseMetrics and it solves the issues in the current formula.

Is the new formula better?

The new formula that has been proposed is better since it is not considering only posts and comments but it is taking into account the total number of posts posted on the page.

The formula is also taking care of fans and non-fans since Facebook allows you to comment or like without even being a fan. So it makes sense to consider users reached rather than talking about only total number of fans.

To add to this, the new formula proposed by WiseMetrics is better than the one that SocialBakers uses to measure ROI on Facebook. SocialBakers has two formulas to measure the ROI –  1) Average Post Engagement Rate and 2) Daily Page Engagement Rate.



The above figure shows that the Daily Page Engagement Rate is similar to the generic Facebook engagement formula. Even though the formula talks about per day engagement, it should reconsider two basic factors:

1) Only considering fans and forgetting non-fans

2) Only considering likes, comments and shares

Can the formula proposed by WiseMetrics be better?

Definitely the formula proposed by WiseMetrics is the way forward when you are considering ROI of your Facebook marketing. However, there are still some missing links that need to be taken care of when we are talking about measuring Facebook engagement.

1. You can’t evaluate likes and shares as one set: We all know that sharing articles is a bigger task than liking an article. So can we quantify them differently and produce better scores?

2. Considering all comments is vague: In general, I have seen most of the times the comments are not with regards to the posted content. So can we calculate only those comments that are aligned to the post content?

3. Talking about this’ is vague too: The figure “talking about this” is a vague one again as it just states how many people (fans and friends of fans) are simply talking about the brand and does not give an idea about the nature of their conversations. A brand needs to know the sentiments behind the engagement, while it is calculating the ROI on Facebook engagement.

I understand these are early days and it will take time for tools to evolve. But the present formula for calculating engagement is full of flaws and we need to take a look at the one that has been provided by WiseMetrics. It answers most of the shortcomings.

Are you convinced that the new formula provided by WiseMetrics is much more apt than the present day formula that we are using?

[Author Bio Prasant Naidu is a Blogger and Founder at Lighthouse Insights, a site that talks about Indian social media news and insights.Loves to experiment in social media and believes social media is a game changer for SME’s.]

  1. Charles Moore says

    Hey guys,

    Love the theory.

    Though I was thinking, if additional paid media increases the reach, would you not be better off changing the ‘reach’ used for calculating engagement to be specific to organic and viral reach and not cover paid. This would give a better indication of the true engagement from the community.

    If you keep paid reach included in the sum, then you run the risk of impacting the results when paid media is running. That is, when including paid media you are and increasing reach your results and engagement will look lower, e.g. as 2 likes/comments from a post that reaches 1000 users supported by paid media appears to be less engagement than 2 likes/comments like from your fans or friends of fans over a reach of community 100 is surely a better reflection of the post’s true engagement.

    Surely there are better ways to show the response to a paid post and seperate it from the response from the community and their friends?

    Love to hear your thoughts.

  2. Hi, thanks a lot for your participation in this discussion! You're absolutely right when you say that shares should get more weight than likes for example.

    Including this ponderation would rather generate another metric, a score, rather than the current rate. This metric may also take into account the quality of the comments (your second point).

    Finally, for the third point, our formula doesn't include People Talking about this. We'll explain why in a future blog post.


    1. prasant says

      Good to see your reply, thanks for sharing them here :) Oh yes will look for your next blog post on a number which i think is quite vague..

    2. Prasant Naidu says

      Good to see your reply, thanks for sharing them here :) Oh yes will look for your next blog post on a number which i think is quite vague..

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