In this post I’m covering the engagement rate formula you need to know, what exactly it is, why it’s so valuable to your brand (and brands you want to work with) and the best way to easily calculate yours so you can include it in all your pitches to brands you wish to work with.
Click the video below to hear me chat about the engagement rate formula on YouTube!
So, by far one of the most common things I hear from influencers within the community is that they believe they need 10k, 50k, 100k followers (or more) to start working with brands on paid collabs.
So if you’ve ever thought the same thing I’m here to challenge that.
The truth is, NO, you don’t need a TON of followers to land paid brand campaigns!
I myself monetized my food blog’s instagram with as little as 500 followers, and there are many influencers in the community with less than 10k followers that secure really high paying brand deals regularly!
Some with lesser known brands and some with brands you’ve definitely heard of before!
Everything you need to know about your engagement rate.
So let’s chat about your engagement rate formula. I want to really break it down, including how to calculate it, so that you can understand why it’s so important to not only brand deals, but your growth on social media too.
To make things simple, your engagement rate is a metric that represents how many people in your audience engage in some way with your post.
Engagement includes things like, likes, comments, saves, shares, swipe up’s and more.
A Better Way to Calculate your Engagement Rate
And you can calculate it in 2 ways.
- by dividing your total engagement per post by your total audience or
- By dividing your total engagement per post by your total impressions per post.
Now, we’re gonna do a deep dive into how to easily calculate it at the end of this video, so make sure you watch until the end. But for now let’s talk about why your engagement rate is one of the key metrics brands are interested in.
There’s 2 important reasons!
- It plays an important role in Instagram’s algorithm, deciding whether (or not) your posts are shown to more people
- It can tell you a great deal about your post’s performance, which helps brands determine whether (or not) a partnership would be a smart investment.
As you know, several years ago, Instagram pivoted from showing users posts based on chronological order to using an algorithm to show users posts based on what the algorithm believes each user most wants to see.
And that’s why there’s so much talk about algorithms. TikTok has one, YouTube has one, podcasts have one, and I’m sure future social media platforms will as well, so it’s something you need to understand and get comfortable with.
So, to break it down, there are several factors that contribute to the algorithm, including:
- How recently a post was shared
- Your online relationship with the user who posted it
- Interest, which Instagram calculates based on the user’s past behavior and content they’ve interacted with
- How often users open Instagram
SO, if you have high engagement on your previous posts (and stories), Instagram notices that, and is more likely to show your posts to users who are consistently engaging with your posts in the future, which means better reach long term.
And, if you exchange DM’s often with users, those users are more likely to see your posts.
Now, if you’re a brand looking at an influencers’ profile, the amount of visible engagement on each post might look impressive when you’re counting up likes and comments, but it’s important for them to know your true engagement rate as well, because 100 likes and comments is outstanding for an influencer with say…500 followers, but not so much for an influencer with 25k followers.
Which is why brands ask for more telling metics like your impressions so they can calculate your engagement accurately using this engagement rate formula.
So now let’s pivot back and chat about how to calculate your engagement rate formula.
Like I mentioned earlier, there are 2 popular ways.
Now, some of you may know that my degrees are in Psychology, so I spent about 6 years studying research and statistics in undergrad and grad school, so I personally believe that engagement should be calculated with impressions in mind, rather than total follower count. It’s simply more accurate.
But, if you check online, however, you may notice that there’s some debate around this, so naturally you’ll want to choose for yourself.
And, realistically the way to calculate your engagement rate may change over time but for now, here’s how I recommend calculating your engagement rate:
- Add up all your post’s engagement, including comments, likes, shares, clicks, and saves. Basically any form of users engaging with your content, that’s what you’re measuring because this is a strong indication of how valuable and relevant your content is to your audience.
- Next, divide the total engagement by the total number of impressions, or people who have actually “seen” your post (x 100).
On a side note, on Instagram you can access your post’s impressions directly below your posts by clicking “View Insights.”
The Best Formula
OK so, again you can choose to calculate your engagement rate formula using your total follower count as well. However, in my opinion it is much less accurate.
You do this by dividing total engagement on a post by your total number of followers (x 100). Again, this will tell you your engagement rate based on your entire follower count.
Now, I personally believe that is not as accurate as an engagement rate that takes impressions into account because you want to know how “engaging” your posts are based on who has actually seen your post, NOT based on who didn’t see it!
And, to be fair it is complicated, because as your engagement rate increases, Instagram shows your post to more of your followers, so it is tricky.
But to simplify things, if only say, 10% of your total audience see’s your posts, on any given day, then it makes sense to calculate your engagement rate based on total impressions.
Again, impressions equal the number of people in your audience that actually saw your post!
Your “reach” on the other hand, equals the total number of unique people who see your content. In a perfect world, every one of your followers would see every piece of content you posted.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things work on social media, and not all of your followers will see every single post you publish.
SO, the main reason why I suggest you choose to calculate it using impressions and not follower count (or reach) is that you want to know out of the total number of people who saw it, how many actually interacted with it?
Not how many could have potentially seen it, and naturally didn’t interact with it.
Hopefully that makes sense! And, I’m curious…how do you currently calculate your engagement rate?
Leave a comment below! Do you divide engagement by your reach or impressions?
So, let’s be real, not everyone loves math, myself included.
Engagement Rate Calculators
SO… if you’re like me, I totally suggest using analytics tools to calculate your engagement rate for you. If you use websites like Planoly, or Plann, or Later to schedule out your posts in advance you can easily access your engagement rate within the website.
They often show you your engagement rate for each post, as well as an overall engagement rate. Just be aware that they may not calculate it based on impressions, but by reach!
But, all in all, these website can help you speed up the process significantly. They’ll also tell you info that you can’t possibly know from just looking at a post on Instagram or TikTok for example, including the number of impressions it received or how many people clicked over to your profile or website after seeing it.
Now, of course each platform has an in app analytics tool called Insights. You can access all the data on Instagram by clicking on the menu in the top right hand corner of the Instagram app, and then select “Insights.”
You can view all of your TikTok analytics by clicking “More data” in the bottom left corner of your videos, or by visiting tiktok.com/anaylitics on a desktop or laptop browser.
Once you do this, you’ll be able to view all your insights for your profile, including the performance for both engagement and impressions on each individual post.
But again, if you want more advanced analytics, you may want to use websites like Later, or Plann to analyse your profile using their engagement rate formula. Many analytics tools will offer much of the same information, if not more, and some even generate downloadable reports for you to share with brands and keep on file for yourself.
So do what works best for you, but always stay up to date on your engagement rate because it’s something you need to share with brands whenever you’re seeking out collaborations!
Also, if you want to improve your engagement rate, I suggest checking out some of my other YouTube videos where I share a ton of tips on how to do so. But for now, I suggest focusing on:
- Responding to comments frequently
- Replying to DM’s consistently
- Including very specific micro-niche hashtags
- Asking questions within your captions
- writing conversation-starting captions
- And encouraging people to save or share your posts (or both)
At the end of the day, your engagement rate is an important metric both for you and brands to figure out what performs best on your unique profile.
A high rate tells you that your audience is seeing your content, and that they’re engaging with it, which is ideal. It’s also social proof to others, which can directly impact how other people perceive your brand and content when discovering it for the first time.
I talk a lot more about social proof in the eCourses, so make sure to enroll in the Member’s website if you want to learn more about the psychology of influence.
Speaking of, I’ve personally received lot’s of testimonials from influencers who’ve enrolled in the Member’s website saying that they’ve signed TONS of paid campaigns with brands using the pitch templates located in our resource library.
And I’d say about 75% of them have less than 10k followers, but they’re all highlighting their engagement rate, so keep that in mind if you’re actively seeking brand collabs!
I can’t stress enough that these days more and more brands are looking at an influencer’s engagement rates above follower count. So my advice is to calculate it frequently so that it’s always current and charge accordingly!
Because, like I say in the ecourses all the time, the best advertising is that of a trusted friend, or word of mouth. So, regardless of your audience, if your followers are engaging with your posts, they see you as someone they can trust, meaning they’re VERY likely to take your advice.
And that’s why you see influencers with small audiences consistently partnering with brands. They have high engagement rates, making it incredibly easy to secure sponsored posts with the right outreach strategy and pitches.
Now, I obviously teach all this in the ecourses, but for now, just keep in mind that you need to highlight your engagement rate on your Media Kit and in your pitches so brands understand the value a partnership with you can provide them.
So, if you take anything away from this video at all it’s that…engagement drives conversions, and that is what brands are looking for.
In fact, many brands report that they prefer to pay for example, 10 nano (or micro) influencers for a campaign rather than pay one “mega” influencer.
Why? The nano and micro influencers
- a) charge less and
- b) have highly engaged, authentic audiences that easily convert to sales
Sadly, mega influencers can’t really produce the same results!
Think of it this way: if a brand’s marketing budget is $25k and they want to reach say…500k people, they could pay 10 micro influencers (each with really high engagement) $2,500k each.
Or, they can pay one mega influencer (with low engagement) the entire budget. Typically brands choose the first option since their ROI is higher with the nano and micro influencers!
Now, this is more often the case with brands that have the goal of making sales. If their goal is to gain brand awareness, or to increase sentiment, then they may want to go with one mega influencer since their reach far outweighs the nano and micro influencers.
So at the end of the day you always want to confirm the brand’s goals with a campaign before signing any contracts.
OK, so just remember, as follower rate increases, engagement tends to decrease, and higher engagement typically equals higher conversions.
Now, what does this mean for you?
If you fall in the nano or micro influencer range, brand outreach should be fairly simple! If your engagement rate is high, or even just average, you provide a ton of value to brands.
So, like I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend you highlight your engagement rate within your pitch to really stand out and capture the brand’s interest.
Now, on a side note, brands sometimes tell me that they receive email pitches from influencers without any mention of their engagement rate, and they often fail to mention it on their One Sheet and Media Kit too.
Or, they send over an outdated rate that simply does not highlight them in the best way possible! Which causes the brand to immediately lose interest…
Hopefully you haven’t done this!
So I just want to mention that…if you want to learn more about Media Kits make sure to check out the video I made listing what (exactly) you need to include in your Media Kit — and the design websites you can use to quickly make one or update your current one. I’ll link to at the end of this video!
And listen, I get it, creating content for a blog and social media takes a lot of time and creativity! However, spending at least one hour a week doing some networking and brand outreach can truly open doors and opportunities for you!
Meaning…When you can, always be pitching. Practice really does make perfect! Also, remember that even though you may not hear back from a brand right away, don’t stress. Often they’re filing your info away for a later date, when their budget increases and they have products to promote. So keep up the outreach, and by all means include your engagement rate, because it will pay off!
OK, that’s it for now. Hopefully you now understand how to calculate your engagement rate formula. If you want to learn more about working with brands make sure to check out these other blog posts: