The True Social Media Interaction Rate

Engagement Rate, Interaction Rate, this rate, that rate. Various metrics tend to be thrown around haphazardly when it comes to social media reporting. That’s understandable, because the terms that are used often depend on the person doing the reporting. Measuring and interpreting metrics is part art and part math, and everyone knows that art is subjective. Personally, I’m not a fan of Italian Renaissance Art, but the Louvre puts a lot stock in it so it must have some fans out there somewhere. I digress.

Back to social media reporting— the question is, where does the math end and the art begin?

Before figuring that out, it’s important to decide the equation with which you want to measure success. It’s not enough to simply choose your KPI, you need to determine how that KPI is calculated. Most of the time, Engagement Rate and Interaction Rate are used interchangeably. Many agree that they both indicate the level of likes, comments, and shares that a social media profile receives, respective to the total reach. Like so:

Interaction Rate = (Likes + Shares + Comments) /  Impressions

If you do some research, you’ll probably find 3 different blogs that give you 3 different Engagement/Interaction Rate equations, but they all agree on one thing – the equations only take into account likes, comments, and shares. I would like to argue that a vital piece of the puzzle is missing — link clicks.

Link clicks are perhaps the most important interactions that take place on social media platforms. Yes, every social media manager will tell you that it’s all about engagement (myself included); however, the underlying basis for driving social media engagement in the first place is to ultimately send followers to your website. Therefore – measuring link clicks is important.

And yet most of the time, link clicks are forgotten. Oh sure, you might measure the Click-through Rate, but I have run into many situations where a brand has been willing to shut down a social media platform due to low engagement, even though the click-through rate was the highest of all their channels. Makes you go “hmm,” and makes me think that the true Interaction Rate should look like this:

Interaction Rate =   (Likes + Shares + Comments + Clicks) / Impressions

By using this interaction rate calculation, you’ll be able to truly see at a glance which platforms are driving the highest interactions respective to size. Why would you want to know this? One, it will inform your content strategy, signaling where link-based content resonates with your audience. Two, it helps you determine where to spend your time, energy, and resources regardless of channel size. Perhaps a brand has fallen into the trap of focusing only on the largest channel, and many times, that’s the right thing to do. A small percentage of a lot is still a lot, and, usually more than a large percentage of a little. But there could be a lot of potential in that little platform, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re going to nurture it.

Once you determine your Interaction Rate, you can break it down into specifics. Keep your Engagement Rate and use this equation to measure likes, shares, and comments. Keep Click-through Rate to isolate clicks. Your metrics should absolutely be a mix of big picture and deep-dive numbers because they blend together to create a vibrant picture of the health of your channels. (I’m really trying to keep with the art theme, here.)

There’s an art in determining just how to calculate your metrics in order to paint the most accurate insights — based on your knowledge of your channels and your audience’s behavior. And as long as you’re not trying to make green the new black, you can use whatever colors you have in your palette. (Can’t help it).

Got any social media reporting tips for us? We’re all ears!