Why The Current Facebook Engagement Rate Calculation Is Inaccurate

Stephane Allard
Co-founder & CEO at Wisemetrics - Stephane is a serial entrepreneur who has been launching internet-related companies since 2001, after a fruitful experience at IBM as web marketing manager. His latest venture was a pioneering social media agency, sold in 2006, which advised Fortune 100 companies.

Update : Facebook has finally introduced an official Engagement Rate in their new Insights. Good news, it’s the same formula that we use in our analytics solution.
Check if your solution still uses a flawed formula! 😉


As the social media analytics field is pretty new, it’s really important to understand how the metrics are computed.

Let’s take for example, one of the main metrics in measuring one’s page performance : the “Engagement Rate”.

What is supposed to be measured with the Engagement Rate ? “The Engagement Rate measures how well your Fans interact with your content”. That’s a common definition.

What’s that supposed to mean? If you have a 0.02% Engagement Rate, it means 0.02% of your fans have engaged with your content, isn’t it?

Only the formula commonly used does not measure that. Not at all. 

Facebook Engagement Rate Formula

Another commonly used formula is this one :

First Problem with these formulas : they don’t include all interactions

Don’t you think, there’s something missing?

What about the interactions when your fans play your videos, look at your photos or click on your links? Aren’t these actions a BIG part of your engagement? For some Brands or Pages (fashion, beauty, e-commerce or even cars manufacturers for example), we may even argue that these interactions are close to be the most valuable ones.

But in the commonly used formulas, these interactions are nowhere to be found! For some Pages, it may represent close to 80% or more of the total interactions, and they’re not included in the calculation! The Engagement Rate is supposed to measure how well your fans respond to your content, but a big part of their response is not measured.

What kind of insights do you get with that? No wonder the average engagement rate is below 0.2%.

Second Problem : they are based on the number of fans only

Brands need to focus on the number of people reached, not the number of fans!
Facebook’s great promise is in viral marketing (touching friends of fans), not in the number of fans you have. Especially when you know that close to 84% of your Facebook Fans don’t ever see your content


Let’s compare two Pages.

Facebook Engagement Rate Measurement

Which one is the most successful on Facebook ?

The second one for sure : close to two more times fans, a bigger engagement rate.


Well. We’re not so sure about this. Let’s insert another metric.

Facebook Engagement Rate with Users Reached


If you’re measuring your engagement rate based on the number of fans, you may be hiding the hard truth : what counts is not the number of fans, but the number of users reached (who cares if they’re fans or friends of fans anyway?).

A visibly smaller page with less overall interactions but with more shares and/or with fans with a wider friends network may well outperform another page with way more fans or more interactions, when it comes to number of users reached.

So, to help you measure how well your content engage your readers, these formulas include all your fans, even if more than 80% of them simply can’t engage with your content (if they don’t see it how could they like it, comment it or share it ?) and, icing on the cake, it’s not including the users who are not fans but are able to interact with your content because they see it in their newsfeed?


Third problem : they mix fans data with fans AND non-fans data

It’s a bit like comparing apples and pears. The formulas make a ratio out of interactions (done by fans and non-fans alike) with the total number of fans only. This creates a bias towards a bigger engagement rate. To be accurate, the formula would need to exclude all likes, comments and shares from non-fans.


Fourth problem : they favor Pages with high publishing rates

Want to trick your Engagement Rate further? Follow this advice : post more. It’s quite simple and it works.

Engagement Rate and Number of posts

1. You’ll reach more fans, it means that more of them will have the opportunity to interact with your content, thus increasing your interactions count
2. Every user reached (fans or not) will have more opportunities to like, comment or share your content (a post can only be liked or shared once!). This will increase your interactions count as well.

These formulas clearly favor Pages with high publishing activities, even if, on average, their posts perform less than posts on other Pages with lower publishing activity levels.

Fifth problem : they don’t measure users but interactions

We want to know the proportion of our fans that interact with our content, but we’re not measuring unique users, we’re measuring the number of interactions. One single fan may be responsible for 28 likes, 13 comments and 6 shares. In the formulas above, this will be considered as 47 “users”…

All in all…

These are inappropriate formulas to get unbiased insights on whether your community on Facebook enjoys your content or not.

What remains is a ridiculously low Engagement Rate that makes your boss wonder if Facebook works at all.

The formulas may still be useful, nonetheless, for benchmarking purpose for example, even if it they are biased. But, in our opinion,they should be called Activation Rate, or something similar, not Engagement Rate. They certainly do not help you evaluate if your community enjoys your content.

How to measure your true engagement rate

Based on our previous comments, we’ve devised the following formula :Engagement rate


And if you’re doing an Engagement Rate benchmark between several Pages, we advise you to use the following formula :

Engagement Rate formula

The formulas present the following benefits which makes it a lot more accurate :

– It includes all type of interactions : photo views, video plays, link clicks, quotes… Not only likes, comments and shares.
– It compares fans and non-fans engagement (Users engaged may or may be not fans) with total number of fans and non-fans reached
– Only people who had the opportunity to see your content (thus the opportunity to interact with it) are included
– The impact of publishing rate is isolated (for the second one)

On top of that, this is probably the way Facebook itself would measure Engagement. Have you seen how “Virality rate” is measured by Facebook ? It’s the number of people creating stories/Number of People reached. Not the number of shares/number of fans.

And at the end, it really answers the question “Does my content engage my community or not ?”

Using the first formula you may expect Engagement Rates of 30,40, 50% or more.

Now the boss is happy.

EDIT : Added the fifth problem on the 4th of July

EDIT : Added the Engagement Rate formula for single Pages, thanks to our readers comments, on the 24th of September

EDIT : Added the Engagement Rate formula based on PTAT, on 11th of October

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  1. Mat Morrison -

    Some excellent work here; many thanks. I agree entirely with your overall thesis, and love your final metric (I assume that you’re using the “page_engaged_users” data — but have a few (tiny) points of information:

    # Problem One

    First of all, we need to be very careful distinguishing between “exposure” and “view” (particularly since impressions on the News Ticker aren’t separated out from impressions in the News Feed.) This is just a language issue, but it can be important.

    Secondly, we’re talking about SOCIAL media. If we’re doing our job right, we’re looking at those public actions that a viewer takes that can be (through organic or paid channels) shared with their friends.

    Most of the time I don’t give a hoot whether someone has engaged with my content; I care about the way their endorsement has been (or can be) shared with their social graph. This isn’t about fans; it’s about reaching through the fans to their wider social graph. Otherwise, it’s just inefficient CRM!

    # Problem Two

    Again – agree. But we should be careful waving Facebook’s 16% number around. It’s an old number for one thing (a whole year old!). And the variance is huge; I’ve seen reach as low as 5%, and as high as 25%. Thanks to Facebook’s editorial algorithms, there seems to be a nice – fairly straight line – correlation between {likes + comments + shares} and exposure. (Which brings me to another point: the reason that the {likes + comments + shares} engagement model works is because that’s what Facebook seems to use to power its algorithm.)

    More importantly, the “16%” generally a daily reach figure. Reach over a week or a month is always much higher than daily reach. Once again – this doesn’t affect your calculations, and I sound like I’m picking nits. I do think it’s important, however, that people like you who clearly understand Insights data communicate this kind of story carefully!

    These two problems aren’t really problems. They represent some slight quibbles about language and a possible shift in focus. I think that this article is fabulous stuff; and I’ll be happy to share it with everyone I know.

  2. Steve -

    Mat, thank you so much for your participation on this blog.

    First problem : can’t agree more
    Seconde problem : you’re absolutely right. Brands may reach a lot more fans than the 16% average. That’s the reason why Wisemetrics is useful! 😉

    For what I know (but, hey, I didn’t produce the Edgerank), Facebook do take into account clicks on photos/videos and links. Even if the weight is lighter than on shares/comments/likes indeed.

    Thanks a lot for your support

    PS : yes, this is the “page_engaged_users” metric

  3. Wise Metrics Proposes New Formula For Measuring Facebook Engagement – AllFacebook -

    […] Wise Metrics pointed out four flaws with the current method of calculating Facebook engagement, as well as providing a formula of its own, in a post on its blog. […]

  4. Guille -

    Perfect article!

    Only one doubt… should’t both parts of the formula be divided by the number of posts… not only the number of engaged users but also the total number of reached users / number of posts that you are measuring.


    I think.

    • Steve -


      You might well be right… Let me think a bit about it…

  5. Jeff Werkheiser -

    I like your thinking on this. I completely agree the denominator should be users reached, not total fans. This way true engagement is only measured against people that actually came in some kind of contact with your content. Whether or not the 16% is still completely accurate, it’s close. I typically see around that number on standard posts, but up to 25% on more viral posts. So, I know that at the very least around 75% of our fans are not seeing our content on a post.

    While your new way of measuring engagement might very well be correct, I don’t see Facebook using ‘users reached’ as a denominator anytime soon for engagement. The higher the percentage of engagement looks to the brand, the less likely brands would be to purchase the (relatively) new promoted posts to bump up their reach. Something Facebook wouldn’t look too fondly on I’m sure. Or the shareholders.

    I also recently noticed that the new engagement detail listed on each individual post now just says the number of people that saw your post. They already did away with the percentage of fans that saw it?

    Great blog with very interesting insight. Thanks!

  6. Steve -

    Hello Jeff, nice talking to you on that subject!

    Facebook is already using “Users reached” for posts for example. And for the whole page, the number is available through the API.

    Have a nice day!

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  8. Johanne -

    The images do not display for me… 🙁

    • Steve -

      I’m sorry Johanne. Don’t know what’s happening to you ? Do you use a firewall/proxy that might prevent pictures from showing up ?

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    […] metrics, a provider of Facebook analytics for brands and agencies, suggests that this formula doesn’t present a clear enough picture and gives an alternate formula to calculate engagement. Here are the reasons […]

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  11. Edward j Bass -

    I’ve tried this formula out and what concerns me is that posts supported by ads tend to skew the results here somewhat.

    For instance a post also used as a Facebook ad would generate a much higher reach but not always a proportionate increase in engagement.

    Be interested to hear your thoughts on this…

    • Steve -

      You’re absolutely right Edward. To limit the impact of paid campaigns, your reached users count should only include users reached via Organic and viral.
      Paid campaigns may still have an impact on viral reach though.

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  14. Madhulika -

    Assume I’m doing an analysis of my brand page, how do I know if my average engagement rate is good or bad? How do I get to know of an industry benchmark?

    • Steve -

      Good point. Until there are some benchmark available, you can use some rule of thumb.
      50% engagement rate sounds a good performance, as one out of two users who’ve seen your posts considered them interesting enough to act on them.
      Compare this ratio to email open rates for example, or display banners engagement rate.

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  16. Stuart G Hall -


    Did I understand your formula correctly as the following, expressed using FB’s own terms, below?

    ‘Talking about this’/ number of your page posts/ ‘Reach’ x 100

    • Steve -

      Nope. We’re using Facebook’s own terms. The data may not be available directly on Insights, so you need to export Insights’ data into Excel.

      “People Talking about this” and “engaged users” are totally different metrics and we don’t advise using PTAT in any engagement rate calculation as it contains flaws the same way the “Likes+comments+shares” has.

    • Stuart G Hall -

      Thanks Steve, I see the FB data in Insights in Page level data under ‘Daily/Weekly/28 days Page engaged users’ and for Reach under the same time ranges as Totals, which combines Organic and Paid reach.

  17. Stas -


    My name is Stas and I am community manager at russian social media monitoring service

    You’ve done really great job in this post and we want ask your permision to translate it into russian and add some relevant to our market examples.

    Certainly we will link to you as authors of the original one.


    • Steve -

      Hi Stas,

      please go ahead.
      Thanks for asking us and for the link to our article.
      Have a nice day,

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  19. ^_^ -

    Tell me please, do I understand correctly: ‘users engaged’ we divide by the amount of posts, and then the result we divide by ‘users reached’ and then we multiply the result with 100?

    I get in results – 0,50%. that’s weird
    (961 / 23 / 8249 *100 = 0,50%)
    is it wrong, isn’t it?

    but if I divide the ‘users engaged’ by ‘the users reached’ and then multiply with 100 I get the: 11,64%
    that’s sounds ok

    what do you think about it?

    • Steve -


      it seems correct to me.
      I suppose this is due to the pretty high number of posts compared to the number of users engaged.

      The second formula you use (users engaged/users reached) is totally acceptable though.
      It doesn’t take into account the number of posts, but it is a really minor flaw, especially if you’re not using this metric as a comparison between different pages.

  20. -

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  22. Alejandro -

    I like the formula’s concept, but at the same time I’m quite confused. Which value do you use from the exported Facebook Data? daily? weekly? 28 days? do you use one specific day or do you use an average?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Steve -

      Hello Alejandro,
      You can use the formula for any date range, it would work, but we recommend that you use it on a longer period of time, like 28 days, because most users engage from time to time and not every week (unfortunately!).
      The idea behind this metric is also to measure progress, so you may want to use the weekly value if you want to measure progress from one week to another.

  23. Omkar Mishra -

    Something i have written on Similar lines to calculate Engagement Rate for Facebook:

    Let me know if it helps you guys

  24. MARINA -

    Hi Steve, Please We do not find the “engagenet user”? How we can get it? Where does it?
    Kindest Regards

    • Steve -

      Hello Marina, you can find “Engaged users” in the excel extract of your Insights, or through 3d party solutions using Facebook’s API like ours.

  25. Marwann -

    Engaged Users / Reached Users is more or less how you calculate Virality Rate (Post People Talking about this / Post Reach). A little confusing…

    • Steve -

      People Talking About This and Engaged Users are really different metrics.
      “People Talking About This” only includes people creating stories. Thus people looking at your pictures, playing your videos or tagging your posts, for exemple, are not included. But they are engaged nevertheless.

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  27. Mary -

    What is my edge rank perecentage wise if I have 135 likes and 42 fans talking about this ?

  28. Egle -

    Hey, thank you for clearing things out 🙂 However, I’m still missing something here. My numbers are following: 28 days engaged people – 36654, 28 days total reached – 655963, so if I put in in my formula


    Is this % number realistic?
    If I include number of posts, then ROI is 186%, still very big….

  29. Egle -

    OK, I guess I shouldn’t multiply by 100 while doing it on excel :), then I got 5,6%. Now seems ok 🙂

  30. Steve -

    Looks ok indeed! 😉

  31. Donna -

    Hi Steve, i agree with you way of more accurately measuring engagement… however does the benchmark of good engagement rate then change? A 1-2% engagement rate when looking at the “Talking about this” / # of fans is considered good. In otherwords, if using your metric – how can I determine if I have a decent engagement rate vs. industry averages?

    • Steve -

      Hi Donna,

      There is no perfect solution right now.
      A first step is to look at the raw number. A 40% engagement rate means 40% of those who have seen your content have clicked on it. Seems like a pretty good number isn’t it ?

      The last option is too look only at what we call “public interactions” (likes, comments, shares). They will give you an imperfect picture as you’ve seen before, but the biases affect all the Pages in more or less the same manner. Just keep in mind this is a raw estimate and should not be considered as an Engagement Rate, more a “Benchmark rate”.

  32. karen -

    Thanks for putting a better solution to the doubts I have and unclear understanding of the FB calculation. I am working on preparing a KPI for a client now. Do you have any suggestions on how I should peg a KPI?

    Assuming xx is the current metric from your formulas above taken from FB insights (of which we are an admin), how much do you think I should increase by the end of 12 months?

    • Steve -

      Hi Karen,
      sorry for this very late answer.
      Unfortunately there is no easy answer to your question. I would suggest you have a look at the trend you’ve been experiencing the last year as well as the last few months in order to extrapolate.


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  39. Ziggy -

    Could someone update the formula? Cannot see it…

    • Stephane -

      Ziggy, it’s engaged users/reached users x100. It’s the same that Facebook now uses.

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  42. Trisha Lombardo -

    Hi Steve,
    This is a great article, very helpful! Still leaves me with a question though- how come the number of likes, comments and shares that my posts get is one number on my wall and then a larger number when measured through FB Insights? Shouldn’t the two of these match up? Why would there be one amount on my wall and another in Insights? Is there another formula we’re missing here? I’m confused, help!

    • Stephane -

      Hi Trisha,
      this is probably due to the fact that Insights also tracks likes, comments and shares on your fans’ stories about your post.