Calculating Engagement Rate on Facebook


When you’re managing pages for Brands, one area you usually stress too much about, is the level of engagement happening on the page. This however, is a necessity; it’s important to know how many people actually care about what you post and find them worth ‘liking’, commenting on and sharing.

It’s simple math – the more engagement generated by your posts, the more likely Facebook will feature your posts in your fans’ Newsfeed. This is moderated by Facebook’s algorithm ‘EdgeRank’. However, many people still stress about calculating an engagement score by following one method.

Engagement Rate = People Talking About / # of Fans

However, I feel there are two ways to look at this. For me, the actual Engagement Rate is not the formula mentioned above, and I will explain why.

So, what is the ‘People Talking About This’ Facebook metric?

Answer: You may already know, but for beginners, refer to this Inside Facebook  post.

‘People Talking About This’ (PTAT) is the number of unique users who have created a “story” about a page in a seven-day period. On Facebook, stories are items that are displayed in the News Feed. Users create stories when they:

  • like a page
  • post on the page wall
  • like a post
  • comment on a post
  • share a post
  • answer a question
  • RSVP to a page’s event
  • 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

PTAT includes most actions taken by Facebook users. However, it does not include video plays or clicks on photos and links in posts. So, what metric includes all the other actions?

Answer: Engaged Users

Facebook only considers actions as PTAT when they create stories on Facebook and help a story become viral. So, when you comment on a post, it’s reflected on your friend’s timeline. Hence, your friend is more likely to check the post and comment on it. But when you view a photo posted by the page, it will not appear on your friend’s timeline, or, in other words, ‘no story is created’. In which case, does Facebook not consider viewing a photo or watching a video as Engagement?

Engagement is any action a user takes on the post voluntarily.

Viewing a photo or watching a video  may not be on the same lines as commenting on or sharing a post. But for me, it is engagement nonetheless. You choose to view a video or click on a link when you are curious, and hence carry out an action on the post via a video play or a link click. Hence, Engaged Users actually seem like a better choice for calculating Engagement Rate than People Talking About This.

And what about the number of Fans? It is a well known fact that a post does not actually reach out to 100% of your fans. The number it actually reaches out to, is the ‘Total Reach’, which can be discovered via Facebook Insights.

The number of Fans is more of a Potential Reach to me. The actual engagement rate is better calculated as the actual engaged users divided by the actual number of people the post is reaching out to.

Suppose you posted a video related post which reached out to 80,000 people while your page had 100,000 Fans, and the number of People Talking About This was 5,000.

How can you say that the page has 5% engagement when you are reaching out to only 80% of the number you had in the denominator (Fans). For me, that is not Actual Engagement. So, what is? We should also be considering the number of Video Plays of the post to discover how many users watched the video.

The Proposed Formula:

Engagement Rate: Engaged Users/ Total Reach

The Engaged Users would obviously be more than PTAT (say 8,000) and the Reach being 80,000. The actual ER in the example above would be 10%. So, would the new formula boost your Engagement Rate? Basic mathematics says it should.

Most of the Rich Media posts/Link based posts would now reflect a proper sense of engagement. This would not only be a true sense of measurement, but also be a true benchmark to compare posts with each other.

But then, why do companies prioritize PTAT and the number of Fans? It’s because these metrics are publicly available, while Engaged Users or Reach is not (it is available only when you are the admin of the page).

This helps brands to set up a competitive analysis against each other and rate themselves. Therefore, when calculating Engagement Rate,  PTAT/Fans is the more popular option.

Which method would you prefer? Leave your comments below.