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Gerdes: The No. 1 way Facebook’s engagement formula is broken

April 10, 2014

By Ludwig Gerdes

By now, you’ve probably heard at least a little about a certain buzzword related to social media: “Engagement.”

However, if you’re like me and you have social media in your job description, then you’ve probably gotten a little tired of how vague the term engagement can be. Nonetheless, we keep using the term, and even use engagement formulas in our day-to-day work.

One engagement formula that has seen widespread acceptance within the industry is Facebook’s own engagement rate, which is shown below.

In short, Facebook’s engagement rate is calculated by adding the number of interactions on a given day and dividing it over the total number of fans on a given day.

So how is it broken? Well, the answer is simple if you look closely, because it ignores one of Facebook’s greatest assets: its knowledge of consumer preferences.

Facebook’s formula leaves out the likelihood of someone performing one interaction type over another.

Not all interactions are created equal, and Facebook’s engagement rate should reflect that.

It is unlikely, however, that Facebook would simply provide social media professionals with access to the vast number trends that would demonstrate the tendency of consumers to like, comment, or share some piece of content, but corresponding coefficients can and should be provided to marketers.

Example formula:

We may be at the mercy of Facebook to provide us with these numbers, but until then, I would recommend leveraging your own knowledge of consumer preferences. Listen to your customers and determine coefficients that weigh each interaction type appropriately. Incorporate these into your formula and examine the results.

What do you think? Should engagement just be ignored altogether as a metric?

Ludwig Gerdes

Ludwig Gerdes

Ludwig Gerdes is a junior studying Business Administration at Northern Illinois University. A former staff reporter for the Northern Star and current NIU Business Administration Student Association webmaster, Gerdes is a College of Business Experiential Learning Center (ELC) team member, working with organizations to tackle real-world business issues. From software evaluation to emerging market analysis projects, ELC students serve as consultants addressing non-mission critical, cross functional business issues.