Why Engagement Rates Really Do Matter

Long gone are the days where your follower count legitimised your social media presence, now it is all about interacting with your audience and boosting engagement rates.

As accepted wisdom once suggested, the more likes or followers an account has, the greater its influence.  However, in the world of social media, where a shiny profile can hide a multitude of sins, followers and likes are an easy game to fake thanks to the rise of bots and buying.

With measurements of social media success ever evolving and leaving last year’s benchmarks as obsolete relics, we thought it worthwhile to un-flesh the latest buzzwords- ‘engagement rate’.

What exactly is engagement rate, how is it measured and, most importantly, why does it matter?

What is Engagement Rate?

Obviously, the metrics vary from platform to platform, but generally speaking engagement rate is used to measure the level of interaction an account receives on its shared content. Simply put, it is the percentage of your audience which react or respond to the content you broadcast. The greater number of likes, shares or comments indicates a greater level of engagement.

How is it Measured?

Your engagement is measured by your likes and comments combined per post divided by your total following and times by 100.


Average engagement rates are notoriously unreliable as it is hugely industry specific. As a general rule anything over 1% is considered good engagement on Facebook whereas Instagram generally averages at around a 3% engagement rate, perhaps explaining the monumental rise of brands on the platform.

Twitter on the other hand only has an average rate of 0.7% given the volume of tweets and the speed of the timeline.

It’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet of your different post types and the corresponding rates to accurately gauge what your audience is responding to, and what they’re not.

Why is it Important?

Followers and Likes are often referred to as ‘vanity metrics’ as although important, they don’t complete a full picture of how your audience is responding to your content.

For example, most people like a page because they see their friends do so or because they like a certain post at a certain time, but it is quickly forgotten. Therefore, even with high number of followers, it is still possible to see little interaction.

For example, the infamous Twitter fail from Rita Ora back in 2014. The pop princess tweeted she would release her new single on Monday if she got 100,000 retweets. Despite having 4 million Twitter followers, only 1,000 people retweeted her and the tweet was swiftly deleted.

Even with millions of fans supposedly at her finger tips, without an engaged audience, Rita Ora was effectively only speaking to 1000 people which is an engagement rate of 0.025%!

Evidently, a high engagement rate is a good indication that your followers are listening to what you have to say, developing trust in you as well as your brand and ultimately increasing brand awareness.

How to Improve Your Engagement Rate

Think of social media as a committed, long-term relationship with your followers. Ideally businesses and brands want to ensure they deliver the best customer experience through these platforms. In that sense, improving engagement is by no means rocket science but it does take dedication.

1.       Start a conversation

The cardinal rule is to give your audience something to ‘engage’ with. Talk about your industry, share some behind the scenes content or share something of value with your followers which isn’t just a product or service. When people realise there is a human, or humans, behind a brand they will be much more likely to follow it.

2.       Promote Brand Enthusiasts

A simple yet effective way to boost conversation is to promote your fans. Posting user generated content helps boost engagement by rewarding those who follow and engage with you and consequently encouraging others to do the same. The guys at Jimmy’s Iced Coffee are great at doing this and making customers feel part of something bigger.



3.   Jump on Trending Topics

If something is viral, you want to be part of it! If it’s trending or in the news in any way think how to harness a topic and divert traffic to your channel. Clothing giant Gap did a good job of this when the retailer promoted its sustainable wares for #EarthDay.



4.      Be Responsive

Make sure you respond to questions and queries as quickly as possible to keep your followers on side. It’s important to appear alert an attentive, otherwise people will think you don’t value them as a follower. Like this painful feed from telecommunications company Airtel.



5.      Join the Conversation

If starting a conversation seems like a big step right now, or if you’re stretched for time and resources, an effective way to boost engagement and simultaneously creativity is to join a Twitter chat or Q&A. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will see results, whether directly or indirectly from picking up tips and ideas along the way!


How We Increased Our Social Media Presence By Over 100% In January

Most businesses we speak to say the same: “we know social media is important but we just run out of time” and that’s where we come in. As an agency we invest a lot of time working on our own social media to ensure we know the very latest algorithms, features and updates so that we can get the best results from each platform for us and our clients.

In January we saw the brilliant Paul Sutton for some specialist social media training, with the goal of improving all areas of the Sunny Bird PR social media channels by 100% compared with December’s figures. We absolutely smashed our results, and here’s how:


LinkedIn is a tricky one, as a business page you don’t have as much clout as a person and it’s also much easier to engage with a person rather than a page. As an agency we run the Sunny Bird PR LinkedIn through Sunny’s personal account rather than on a business page for this reason. For our clients we run a mix of company pages and people depending on their needs, flexibility and restrictions. In addition to considering the type of account you use, there are a number of things you can do to maximise your LinkedIn presence:

Connect with people with whom you have worked or with similar interests and demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership in your posts. Rather than selling your services, drive people to relevant and valuable content on your website or blog. Post regular status updates about what you're working on and who you're working for, making sure your feed is a mix of company and industry news.

Participate in groups as they give you a great opportunity to reach and engage potential customers online. Taking part in these discussions can help establish you as an expert in your field. Try LinkedIn advertising; paid advertising on LinkedIn is still a relative bargain, and can get your business in front of your market quickly. Experiment by boosting a post by £10 each day for a week to see which posts/audiences return the best results giving you a foundation for your strategy.

As a result of these measures, our LinkedIn follower growth increased 281% from December to January, and our most viewed post was up by 241%.


Facebook used to be an amazing tool for building community around a brand, but with organic reach on a steep decline towards zero (that’s the number of people who see your posts without you paying for increased reach), it’s getting harder to reach your audience on this giant social network. There are still things you can do to maximise your Facebook reach and engagement however:

Prioritise video as this is favoured by the Facebook algorithm, especially if it drives likes and conversation. Aim to make videos engaging by capturing people’s attention within the first three seconds or by including a call to action, and add live videos to the mix as these have proven popular with many audiences. Respond to comments on your page as Facebook favours posts that generate conversation and engage with other businesses for the same reason, with the added bonus of reaching each other’s followers.

Experiment with the “preferred audience” button to make your posts more likely to reach those who would be interested in it, and consider placing some advertising budget into sponsoring your favourite posts to further increase your reach.

Utilising the above strategies saw our business Facebook page’s monthly reach go up by by 177% and post engagements increase by 130%.



Instagram is the king of visual content and offers some brilliant opportunities to showcase the creative side of your business. Growing your platform on Instagram organically can prove to be challenging as algorithms are forever changing, but as it currently stands Instagram has some great options for engaging with other users. Here are some tips to help you maximise this engagement:

Use hashtags that are relevant to your brand as this is how most people find new content on Instagram. Check how popular a hashtag is by visiting the ‘Tag’ tab on the search bar in the Instagram app. Type in a topic to see its most popular hashtags and use these to reach the right audiences. Like and comment on pictures that relate to your brand or product and find bloggers’ or journalists’ pages and comment on their posts. Hold a contest by posting an image and asking people to like or comment on it in order to help boost your engagement and increase your followers by following at least ten relevant accounts every day to encourage them to follow you back.

Remember that quality beats quantity; only feature your best images and utilise the Instagram app’s built-in tools to optimise the brightness, contrast and saturation of each image. Ask questions in your posts and on other people’s posts, to increase engagement and boost your visibility to others.

Increasing our efforts to engage with others and produce quality content on Instagram saw our monthly follower gains increase by a fantastic 100%.


Twitter is an ever-evolving platform and one which can often feel hard to stay ahead of the curve on. With its fast-paced newsfeed of 280-character snippets of information, Twitter requires time rather than money to ensure you reach your audience at all times of the day.

While tweeting often is key, it’s important to maintain a balance to ensure your newsfeed isn’t too broadcast heavy. To up your engagement in a meaningful way, aim to make two thirds of your tweets interactive by initiating conversations with other users and brands. To help with this, you can use a social media tool such as Hootsuite to keep on track of what’s trending and what’s relevant to you.

Make sure your following consists of relevant accounts as these are the ones who are likely to engage with you. While it may feel good to see your follower numbers rise from an influx of spam accounts, these won’t engage with your content and as such, have no benefit to your brand. Don’t be afraid to recycle tweets; as the Twitter newsfeed moves so fast, you can feature the same post multiple times without the same person seeing it twice. If you have spent time creating brilliant and timeless ‘evergreen’ content, post it more than once to maximise the exposure.

With a new focus on engaging with relevant audiences on Twitter, we saw the number of new Twitter followers per month increase by a whopping 750% and Twitter mentions go up by 625% compared to December’s figures.

Do you want advice on how to maximise your social media efforts, or would you like someone to take it off your hands altogether? Then call the team now on 01202 293095 or email hello@sunnybirdpr.com

How To Make The Most Of The New Facebook Algorithm

In recent years, Facebook’s newsfeed has gone from mainly displaying activity from your friends and family, to becoming increasingly populated by media, businesses and organisations.

There have been pros and cons to this; while it’s helped smaller brands build an audience and a community using engaging content, others have used Facebook’s algorithm to inundate people with largely irrelevant marketing messages.

Facebook is now looking to put the ‘social’ back into social network with an updated algorithm that favours meaningful conversations and content from friends and family.

In Mark Zuckerberg’s own words: “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

So what does this mean for brands that are still looking to engage with their audiences through Facebook?

1. Your content has to be engaging.
Content that generates engagement through likes, shares and - in particular - conversations will be favoured by the new algorithm as Facebook works to put an end to passive scrolling through the newsfeed.

2. You may have to re-think your video strategy.
Videos have long benefited from the Facebook algorithm, but this advantage is set to decline unless they generate meaningful interaction. You can help drive engagement by ensuring your video captures people’s attention in the first three seconds, or by including a call to action. Live video is predicted to stay strong, with videos that are watched for longer gaining more visibility in the newsfeed.

3. Your Facebook page will require an advertising budget.
This update will all but eliminate organic reach, which is the amount of people who see your posts without you paying for it. This means brands will have to pay to reach their audience, no matter how relevant their content is.

Engagement also affects sponsored posts, with posts generating conversation achieving higher reach. To maximise the potential of your sponsored posts, always respond to comments from followers to keep the conversation going.

4. Influencers will become even more influential.
As influencers are perceived as people first and brands second, they tend to have a very personal relationship with their audience. They know their followers well and often generate a ton of interaction on their posts, making them one of the few commercial winners of the new algorithm and an important asset for brands looking for visibility online.

For support on improving your engagement on Facebook and working with the new algorithm, get in touch with the team on 01202 293095 or hello@sunnybirdpr.com