(5 Minute Read) If your engagement rate on social media is anywhere above or even approaching 5%, you’re doing great. I did some research to see how this rate stacked up against popular social media content creators and found that they don’t do much better than 5% engagement on their posts. So if that’s what you’re at now and you’re worried that it’s low, don’t worry, because you’re doing better than Justin Bieber (No, really, you are! Read on to find out engagement rates on his mega-popular videos).
I often tell my clients that an engagement rate of around 5% on social media is really fantastic. But I realized I was basing that assertion on intuition. So, I wanted to get some good solid data to either validate my claim, or change what I asserted going forward (you should always be willing to change your mind if you are presented with evidence that contrasts with what you had previously held to be true).
To measure social media engagement, I looked at posts on YouTube from content creators with large, involved followings. I took the 5 most recent posts from 12 creators, spread out across a wide variety of topics. I figured these were representative samples because they are so popular and diverse. With findings from these creators, we can measure what really great engagement rates look like across social media.
What I found in my research was really interesting. My 5% threshold turned out to be true, and a lot of really highly performing social media channels performed a lot less highly than I thought.
I went into my research assuming that highly performing social media channels would have an engagement rate of at least 10%. I mean, if 1 out of 10 people watching a music video from, say Justin Bieber, clicked “like” while watching the video, that wouldn’t be surprising, right? Well, it turns out only about 5% of people engage with videos on popular social media accounts. So, only half of a person out of every 10 people like popular videos.
Additionally, the data skewed heavily toward lower engagement rates, with approximately 2/3rds of the videos I sampled having a 6% engagement rate or less. In fact, at the highest point, I only found 3 videos out of 60 that had engagement rates of over 11%.
Lastly, I chose videos from channels with a high number of subscribers that had dedicated followings in specific niches. So, these videos probably represent the high end of engagement by interest. To test that theory, I also took two videos from Justin Bieber that had views in the billions. The two videos I chose also had low engagement rates of 1% and 3% (to put that in perspective though, we’re talking about 27 million and 3 million engagements on each video). So, we can see that even mega-popular videos do not have a terribly high percentage of engagements either.
Although this research was not as rigorous as a scientific study, I do believe it was enough to be representative of social media trends as a whole. And, I think these data offer comforting news: a 5% engagement rate is what, by and large, a great deal of successful YouTube channels see on their posts. If you, as a small business, or someone with less than 100K subscribers or followers is getting engagement rates at or around this number, you’re doing really well compared to a wide sample of popular social media channels.
This is a very unscientific study. I was looking for overall trends to benchmark against, not hyper specific figures meant to represent all of social media. I’ve included my data if you’d like to take a look or disagree with my conclusions.
To begin, I chose 12 popular YouTube channels across a variety of subjects to ensure freedom from a subject matter bias. If people who watch videos on one particular subject engage with videos more or less frequently than those in other subjects, it could skew the data. To try to prevent that I chose a diverse array of channels, spread across a variety of subjects (nature, law, art, marketing, comedy, art history, real estate, economics, movie reviews, and politics).
I chose to use YouTube to measure engagement on social media because the data from views are readily available and easy to use. I measured total views and then added the likes and dislikes for each individual video to find the percentage of engagement among viewers of that video.
I measured data from the 5 most recent videos of each channel in order to standardize the process and remove the possibility of me choosing videos I liked or disliked, which could have affected the results.
Finally, I looked at two Justin Bieber music videos with more than a billion views each to see if the data was much different at the highest end of the spectrum. It does not appear to be different.