There is no official way to calculate your engagement rate on Instagram.
Engagement rate is a metric that dominates social media but is mysteriously absent from one of its biggest players.
This leaves everyone a bit stuck when trying to look at performance. To solve this problem we Googled “How do you calculate Instagram engagement rate” and went through every answer we can find. There are three types which stand out as being especially useful and practical.
Follow us below as we take a look at each of the three main ways to calculate Instagram engagement rate, and help you choose which one you should use (and why).
How To Calculate Engagement Rate on Instagram
These are the three most useful ways to work out the engagement rate for your Instagram posts that we found:
- To compare different accounts: ((Likes + Comments) / Total Followers) x 100
- To compare against other social media: ((Likes + Comments) / Impressions) x 100
- To perform better within Instagram: ((Likes + Comments + Saves) / Reach) x 100
Note: In all three of the above x100 is added simply to turn them into a percentage.
The reason why all three of these exist, is that they all serve different purposes. Between them, they cover the main reasons you would want to calculate engagement in the first place.
These are all methods to calculate the average engagement rate per post on Instagram. We also include how to calculate and track the engagement rate for Instagram account below.
Method 1: To Compare Different Accounts
Instagram Engagement Rate = ((Likes + Comments) / Total Followers) x 100
The people who mainly care about engagement rates on Instagram are influencers and digital agencies. In order for them to have a standardised metric that can be used to compare multiple accounts, it needs to be made using publicly available data. How else would they work out (quickly) how much to pay people for advertising products?
Since 2022 people can choose whether to make the like count on their posts public or not. Due to this change, it is more likely that people wishing to demonstrate popularity will show their like counts publicly. This helps both influencers and digital agencies to see which accounts are more likely to be interested in monetising their accounts.
This makes this version of Instagram engagement rate useful for agencies who want to find the next big thing. It can also help influencers to check on their engagement rate relative to their peers. This can be useful information when negotiating for more money on sponsored posts.
The Problems With Using Followers for Engagement Rate
This version of engagement rate does fall down, however, in that no other platform would use Total Followers as a metric as it’s not very reliable. This is because following people is no longer the only way a feed is generated. People look at topics, “For You” feeds (which are algorithmically generated based on interests), follow hashtags etc. Some people don’t log in at all when they browse social networks for fear of tracking.
And of course, some accounts have hugely inflated follower accounts due to:
- following other accounts and hoping for follow backs
- buying fake followers
- a single post going viral
All of this adds up to the idea of Total Followers being a poor metric.
Overall this version of Engagement Rate is convenient and useful for agencies and influencers on Instagram. It doesn’t really mean too much to anyone else.
Method 2: To Compare Against Other Social Media
Instagram Engagement Rate = ((Likes + Comments) / Impressions) x 100
For anyone using multiple social networks, it is useful to compare performance across platforms. Liking and commenting are pretty universal types of social media engagement making them perfect for this task.
Impressions are also pretty standard, and simply count each time a post is seen. By using this form of engagement rate for Instagram posts, you can directly performance compare against other social networks. For a social media manager, this can be a real time-saver.
No social network actually uses this version of engagement rate, unfortunately. Every other social network includes some other type of engagement than just likes and comments in their engagement rate calculations. This means that if you are using this type of engagement rate then you will have to calculate it yourself for every platform you use.
In a lot of ways, however, this is the fairest comparison you can make between social networks. Its only real downside is the amount of work involved (although this needn’t be too much). You’ll just need to use a spreadsheet to keep track of performance and put formulas in to calculate your engagement rate.
Method 3: To Perform Better on Instagram
Instagram Engagement Rate = ((Likes + Comments + Saves) / Reach) x 100
If you want Instagram to show your posts to more people, you’re going to want to play by their rules. While Instagram does not publicly define engagement rate, it does define engagement as including Likes, Comments, AND saves. You can only assume there must be a reason for this.
On top of that Meta defines engagement rate for ads as:
The expected engagement rate calculates the likelihood that a person will click, react to, comment on, share or expand an ad.
Therefore my best guess would be that internally Instagram is using this version of engagement rate to measure success. Instagram may publicly not embrace engagement rate, but privately they will know that they can’t afford to have any metric look bad. On top of that, the universal nature of office politics will mean that Facebook and Instagram employees will always be competing, and engagement rate is the natural battleground for any social network.
This is why The Online Advertising Guide recommends using this method to calculate your Instagram engagement rate.
It also means that to increase your Insta engagement rate, you need to be encouraging people to take multiple actions on your post. In a practical sense, this means replying to comments so that you can get a second comment from the same person. It also means creating posts that people will not only like, but save to look at again in the future.
Note: For this third method, some websites recommend using impressions instead of reach. While that would be a more true representation of engagement compared to other social networks, it wouldn’t be a better one for any of the above purposes.
How to Calculate the Engagement Rate for an Instagram Account
To calculate the overall engagement rate for an account you “simply” have to add up all the metrics listed above for every post. For methods 2 & 3 above you could also just add up the impressions/reach of every post and it would average out.
For method 1 above (using Total Followers), you would then divide the likes & comments by the number of posts. This would be somewhat ridiculous however as the total number of followers increases over time. Having more followers increases the chance of engagement. This means judging your early posts (with few followers) by the number of followers you have later will drag your engagement rate down.
How to Keep Track of the Engagement Rate for an Instagram Account
As doing any of these long-term calculations on the fly would be annoying, there are basically two solutions:
- Work out engagement rate over the last month. This means gathering stats for all your posts in the last 30 days and adding them all. In the case of method 1, it again would mean dividing those stats by the number of posts. While this is a pretty good measure of your current level of engagement rate, it is also still a pretty annoying task to do repeatedly.
- Have a spreadsheet which records your stats. This means that you keep track of the stats of each of your posts, and you can thereby quickly work out the engagement rate of your whole account. You could also work out your engagement rate over the last 30 days, or your engagement rate for when you use different combos of hashtags – anything really. Keeping a spreadsheet like this is highly recommended.
Note: If you are recording stats you should leave at least a week after each post before you write it down. This is to ensure that all the stats that a post is going to get are pretty much finalised. It also means that if you wait more than a week for whatever reason, then that is OK too, as almost all posts won’t get significant extra engagement after a week.
Let’s Go Back a Step… What Counts As An Engagement on Instagram Anyway?
Instagram itself defines an engagement as a like, comment, or save. You can see your engagements per post if you are on a business account. To do this you press the hamburger menu in the top right, then Insights. After this go to Content (the middle tab) and press “See all >” under posts. What you’ll get is a view of all your posts (from newest to oldest). Each post has a number superimposed over the top.
This is the number of engagements for each post, and by clicking on a post you will quickly be able to see that they only include like, comments, and saves.
Note: You can change what stats this page shows by clicking on the small sentence at the top of the screen.
What Isn’t Included as an Engagement on Instagram?
The other types of engagement that people can take with a post are excluded from this engagement metric, and are instead mostly referred to as “interactions”. Interactions include profile visits, link clicks, and emails. Follows that result from a post are also excluded from this engagement metric.
This is especially confusing, as traditionally any interaction with a post is considered an engagement. More than that, the things which are not included as engagements, are generally more valuable than the engagements themselves. A comment can be negative, a Like has become a thoughtless button press, and although a ‘save’ may be a good sign that a post was very interesting, it’s not nearly as good a sign as an email.
This may be why Instagram doesn’t include engagement rate stats – simply because they are trying to reduce its importance as a metric. Every social network talks about engagement rate in one way or another. By not talking about it publicly, and by defining engagement differently, Instagram can act like it is different from its competitors (and therefore cooler).
So Why is Engagement Rate Important Again?
The pProblems with Engagement Rate
It’s much easier to say why engagement rate isn’t important than why it is, especially for businesses.
A high engagement rate may imply you are posting very interesting things. However, it won’t necessarily drive site traffic, nor does it equate to sales. Basically, a high engagement rate simply won’t pay the bills.
Think of it this way – you may laugh at the class clown’s jokes. You won’t necessarily recommend them for a job though.
How Engagement Rate Should Be Used
On the other hand, though – a low engagement rate means you are doing something wrong. If you post and post and very few people (or no one) engage with what you are doing, then you are definitely missing your mark. For your posts to be valuable at all to anyone, people have to care that you are posting.
The absolute lowest bar for someone to show that they care about something on the internet is to engage with it in some way. This is why engagement rate has become such a common metric on the internet (and especially on social media). With so much content being thrown at us every single day, any post which cuts through the noise and gathers any attention can be considered a winner (to some extent).
And engagement rate (as opposed to just engagements) measures the level of that type of ‘winning’. If someone gets 100 engagements with their posts every day, but posts 200 times a day, then they probably aren’t as interesting as someone who posts once per day and gets 100 engagements.
Also, being able to work out how engaging someone’s posts are on average makes life easier for influencers and agencies trying to rent space on their social media feeds. This is why it’s a number that keeps coming up.
On top of that, businesses now use Instagram regularly, and for businesses, it’s not for fun. They have to be able to work out whether or not they are succeeding. As it can take a while to generate revenue from an Insta account, a useful early metric is engagement rate.