Facebook Engagement Formula: Is it Helpful?

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: January 30, 2017

With Facebook, you can’t settle for likes. Engagement is key for increasing brand awareness since most people forget they even liked a page. When people engage with your Page in ways that appear in other users’ News Feeds, your Page reaches people beyond your existing fan base. To better understand engagement levels, Facebook created an engagement formula that can be calculated as the number of People Talking About This (PTAT) divided by the total number of likes on your Page. In other words, an engagement rate measures the percentage of people who like your Page that are engaging with your content. But is the Facebook engagement formula really telling you what you need to know?

Facebook engagement formula

You may also be wondering what PTAT is, other than the number listed under the Likes tab on your Page. PTAT is the sum of the number of unique people who take the following actions over a seven-day period:

Like a Page

Post on the Page wall

Like a post

Comment on a post

Share a post

Answer a question

Respond to a Page’s event

Like a comment

Comment on a comment

Mention the Page in a post

Tag the Page in a photo

Check-in at a place

Share a check-in deal

Like a check-in deal

Write a recommendation

Claim an offer

If a person does any of the above actions per post on your Page, your PTAT increases by one. So if a person comments on your post, your PTAT only increases by one. But if someone comments on two posts, then your PTAT increases by two. It gets extra confusing if they like and comment on the same post.  That only increases PTAT by one. The problem with PTAT is that you can’t tell which content triggered engagement over the seven-day period. Not only that but PTAT doesn’t update until two days after the seven-day period is over.

Now back to the engagement rate, which can be misleading for the following reasons:

Engagement rate doesn’t take into consideration how popular a Page is, which can make it seem as though a brand has poor engagement. Take Walmart as an example. Walmart has less than 1 percent of its audience engaging with its content; however, Walmart has over 33 million likes on their Page, which means more than 80,000 people engage with their content. That’s still a lot of people engaging!

Another problem with engagement rate is in how the formula is setup. It is PTAT divided by total Page likes. First, not everyone who likes your Page is going to see your content in their feed due to Facebook’s algorithm. That doesn’t give you a good view of how engaging your content is. The other issue with the formula is that PTAT includes people who don’t like your Page. They may have had a friend, who likes your Page, engage with content and then like that content when it shows up on their feed.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense then for the engagement rate to be all People Talking About This, including non-fans, divided by the total number of people who like your Page.  

[quote align=”left”]The most important thing is to know how engaging your content is, so you can learn and adjust to what performs best.[/quote]

To us, the most important thing is to know how engaging your content is, so you can learn and adjust to what performs best.  A better way to measure your engagement level is by looking at your individual post’s engagement rate, which you can view under the Insights tab. Your post engagement rate is the number of people who liked, commented, shared, or clicked on your post divided by reach (the number of people your post were served to). This will give you an idea of what content sparks engagement, so you can better target your audience and their interests.

Organic reach is another important metric that is a more accurate measurement of engagement than Facebook’s engagement formula. This metric tells you how much Facebook is liking your content, thus giving it more organic reach. The content with the highest organic reach will also typically have the highest engagement compared to other posts.

While Facebook’s engagement formula can be helpful at times, mostly when comparing to similarly sized competitors’ pages, don’t take it too seriously. Set a goal for post engagement and use the post engagement rate and organic reach metrics to help you decide what content will help you reach that goal.

At Envano, we help our partners build vibrant Facebook communities. Are you ready to see your engagement soar? Fill out our contact form and let’s chat!