Practical Ecommerce

Understanding Facebook’s New ‘Insights’ Analytics

Facebook recently launched a new, enhanced version of Insights, its analytics package for Fan pages. The old version contained lots of information — demographics, the total number of Likes/Unlikes, number of average daily users, and total page and post impressions — but nothing that helped determine the effect of user activity on sales and marketing.

According to a Facebook product guide PDF, the new Insights is designed to help page administrators:

  • Understand the performance of the Page;
  • Learn which content resonates with your audience;
  • Optimize how page administrators publish to their audiences so that people will tell their friends about the Page.

How to Access the New Insights

Insights can be accessed by visiting the navigation menu in the left-hand column of your Page. Only page administrators will see the entry for Insights.

Insights can be found in left-column menu.

Insights can be found in left-column menu.

Once the link is clicked, a sub-menu appears containing the following three items: Fans, Reach and Talking About This. It also opens a page containing an overview of page activity, which is referred to as the dashboard. You can choose to review Insights data through the dashboard or export it using the “Export” button in the top right corner.

Insights Dashboard

At the top of the dashboard you will notice four sets of numbers: “Total Likes,” “Friends of Fans,” “People Talking About This” and “Weekly Total Reach.” Alongside each number is an arrow pointing either up (green) or down (red) indicating growth or decline in activity. This provides a general overview of your page activity, to quickly monitor the success of your engagement efforts.

Insights dashboard contains a snapshot of engagement activity.

Insights dashboard contains a snapshot of engagement activity.

Here are definitions of what each of those metrics mean.

Total Likes. The total number of unique people who Like your Page.

Friends of Fans. The number of people who are friends with your Fans, including current Fans. This metric represents the total number of people you could potentially reach if all of your Fans were talking about your business to their friends.

People Talking About This. The number of people who have actually engaged with your page in some form in the last seven days. This could include Likes, comments or shares of a post, Questions answered, people tagging your page in an update or photo, users who have responded to an event on your page or who have checked-in using Facebook Places. The percentage of increase or decrease is a comparison to the previous seven-day period. Getting more people to talk about your Page will have positive bearing on the last metric, Weekly Total Reach.

Weekly Total Reach. The number of unique people who have seen content associated with your Page — including any Ads or Sponsored Stories pointing to your Page — in the last seven days. Again, the increase-decrease percentage is a comparison to the previous seven-day period.

Beneath these four metrics is a graph that contains weekly numbers for “Talking About This” and “Weekly Total Reach” for the past month.

Dashboard graph shows numbers "Talking About the Page" and "Weekly Total Reach."

Dashboard graph shows numbers “Talking About the Page” and “Weekly Total Reach.”

One of the goals is in using a Facebook Page is to publish content that will reach as large an audience as possible. To aid in determining just what content stimulates the most engagement, there is a spreadsheet located below the graph containing the most recent page updates, with information about how Facebook users engaged with that content.

Spreadsheet includes detailed information about posts.

Spreadsheet includes detailed information about posts.

The spreadsheet is designed to provide detailed information on how many people your posts reached, and how many people engaged with the content and talked about it with their friends. The “Virality” column allows page owners to compare different posts by showing the percentage of people who talked about them to their friends.

The following are definitions for each column:

  • Date. The date that your post was published (Facebook uses Pacific U.S. Time).
  • Post. The type of post — post, photo, video, link — and an excerpt.
  • Reach. The number of people who saw that update.
  • Engaged Users. The number of people who clicked anywhere on your post.
  • Talking About This. The number of people who have “created a story” —Facebook’s term for engagement — from your post, such as Liking, commenting or sharing.
  • Virality. The number of people who have created a story from your post as a percentage of the number of people who have seen it.

Fans, Reach, Talking About This

Facebook provides detailed information about Fans, Reach and people who are “Talking About This.” Here is a brief explanation of what each section provides.

Fans. This section contains demographic data about Fans of the page, including gender, age and location. It also includes information about where Likes come from: On Page, Newsfeed, or Ticker; Mobile; other Pages and Facebook Recommendations.

Each sub-section provides detailed demographic data.

Each sub-section provides detailed demographic data.

Reach. This section also contains demographic data regarding who your page reached as well as how people found it. Categories include: Organic (people found the page via their Newsfeed); Paid (Facebook Ads or Sponsored Search); or Viral (the number of people who saw a story based on activity from a friend).

Talking About This. As with the other two, this section contains demographic data about people who are talking about your page along with how they are talking about it.

Implications of Insights for Ecommerce Merchants

Word of mouth marketing has always been a primary way for information about brands to spread. With the advent of social media — and Facebook in particular — it is more important now than ever before.

As such, creating compelling content that encourages interaction via Likes and comments allows merchants to better leverage the power of Facebook to influence Friends of Fans, which can result in increased page activity and sales. Therefore, merchants should create content that achieves that goal.

Using the “Virality” metric, merchants can better discern which types of content obtain the greatest degree of engagement and increase the “People Talking About This” score.

Further, the role played by demographic data as presented in each of the three sub-sections is important because it helps merchants better understand just who their Fans, Friends of Fans and others are. For example, if the primary demographic for your page is males age 35 to 54, it may mean that adapting the type and tone of your content to specifically appeal to that group is necessary. Even more important, it helps merchants know if they are reaching the right audience for their products.

The Role of ‘Likes’

With the recent changes that allow anyone, whether Fans or not, to interact with a Facebook Page, the importance of Liking a page has been lessened. That does not mean merchants should not encourage the behavior, just that it’s no longer essential to increasing engagement levels.

In fact, now that the general public can interact without the benefit of having to Like a page, engagement should increase organically. This makes creating valuable, relevant content even more critical.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Steff Smith October 18, 2011 Reply

    The other thing Facebook could do is make sure that it provides information on which pages it is place ads on: already several large companies have removed their ads from pages advocating rape: full story here http://rapeneverfunny.wordpress.com/