That’s right, we’ve added Facebook changes amongst the things that are inevitable in this world. For the umpteenth time this year, they’ve tweaked their newsfeed algorithm. Now, more than ever, Facebook is placing an even higher priority on quality content. This means you can expect fewer memes and photos hosted outside of Facebook will show up less (aka get penalized). Also, you can expect to see more links that come from high quality sources (aka less BuzzFeed, more New York Times) along with similar content from these sources. Fortunately, the like bait statements, “Like this if you are a good person” type of posts will probably also be pushed down.
Though Facebook states their goal is increasing user value*, their driving goal will ALWAYS be to maximize shareholder value and then user value.
As this is already the algorithm’s second significant change in the last 4 months, it is a near certainty that even this version will eventually be revisited. As agencies such as ourselves speculate about what type of content will get penalized or rewarded, one thing remains true: the data contain the answer. Your data can help eliminate the guess work and will actually show you what’s working for your organization and guide you towards more successes. This is the only thing we can be certain of in an uncertain environment.
What is Facebook Insights?
Facebook Insights provides neat visualizations of your audience and how well they are engaged. You can track the growth of your fan base and analyze which posts are getting people talking. It’s all really pretty. But with the wealth of data available, it becomes easy to forget about one very, very important thing: context. In this tutorial, we will highlight some of the key metrics available in Insights. On top of that, we will demonstrate how to get the most out of these metrics, by providing a framework for how to think about the data.
Through contextualizing the data and paying attention to industry benchmarks, we can better use this data to take action. This guide will focus on the graphics and metrics that aren’t found in the Overview Section of Facebook Insights. Since the default overview only focuses on data and trends from past 2 weeks, our scope becomes severely limited. While this data is great for a quick pulse-check, a richer analysis requires looking at the bigger picture. It’s not enough know to know how fast you’re going. You need to know where you’re going- your goals.
Select an Appropriate Time Frame
First things first, you probably want to specify the date range for your analysis. The above feature can be found in the “likes,” “reach”, and “visits” tabs. You can see data for up to three months in the past. Just play around with the toggle feature (see arrow above) to expand and contract your custom range to your liking. If you can’t decide, Facebook helpfully suggests time frames which correspond to one month, one week or one quarter. Now, let’s see how Facebook Insights helps us answer 4 of our most pressing questions:
1. Which kind of content has been most popular?
The table in this section gives you a nice snapshot of the engagement for your most recent posts. You can assess the virality of your posts, as well as see how many likes, comments, and shares each individual post received.
One thing that I like to do is check out the engagement rate for posts. The engagement rate is the number of people who liked, commented, or shared a post over the number of people who saw the post. When someone likes or comments on your page’s post, Facebook takes this as a cue to show more of your page’s content to that person. Conversely, if a person has been consistently ignoring your content- and by ignoring, we mean not engaging- Facebook will show less and less of your page’s content to that person.
- What content resonates with our audience?
- What topics do not interest our audience?
- Are hashtags actually working?
(A recent EdgeRank study on Facebook Hashtags says no)
- Which kinds of photos have the highest engagement?
(Usually they will be the ones that can stand on their own with no text needed because people are lazy, visual creatures.)
- Build up a library of phrases and post structures that work well to inspire, outrage (aligned with your cause), and inform your audience.
- Create posts that have games like complete the sentence, guess how many, or caption contests to encourage post interaction.
- Don’t be surprised that photos continue to dominate, but keep an eye on links as Facebook changes their algorithm.
2. Content by the day and hour
Line graphs are fairly simple to understand. Look for spikes. Look for dips. Look for overall trends. A neat functionality of this graphic is that you can click on specific points within the graphic. Thus, if we are interested in knowing which posts earned all those likes on November 12th, we can click on the graph to find out!
This graph is particularly helpful because it breaks down engagement into likes, comments and shares. Though Facebook counts likes, comments and shares equally as engagement, your organization may not view these interactions as equivalent. A photo of a cute kitten may earn a large number of likes, but it does virtually nothing in terms of spreading your non-profit’s message and more actively engaging your audience.
A quick caveat about the “comments” metrics. Check to make sure that the comments are positive. While “likes” are always positive, and shares are generally positive, as KFC can attest to, comments can sometime be a sign of negativity. It is not enough to only look at your raw metrics of engagement. Put the people back into the data and take the time inspect what people are saying about your brand!
- What posts are more likely to be shared?
- Is there a day of the week where posts are performing at a higher level?
- What ideas and topics are starting a conversation (comments)?
- Are these comments positive?
- Play with scheduling of posts through the Facebook scheduling tool targeting different times.
- Be active on your posts and respond to commenter questions and suggestions in order to keep the conversation alive. People will appreciate the individual attention and your organizations efforts to be personal.
3. How is our fan base growing?
This graphic conveys quite a bit of information, so it’s important to know what to look for. The graph shows the number of new page likes per day as well as where they came from. Firstly, pay attention to any spikes. A higher than usual number of page likes means that you did something well on that day. Did one of your posts catch fire that day? Did you do some off-line campaigning on that day?
Secondly, you can also identify the cause of that like. You can assess the success of your paid advertisements through looking at the yellow-colored area in the graph. You can see mobile’s contribution to your fan base through analyzing the purple-area. And, any “On Your Page” like means that someone liked your page after directly visiting it- probably due to a successful post or offline recommendation.
- How do these days relate to marketing launches or website changes?
- What is the relative success of our paid advertising?
- Have any off-line interactions spurred any increases in likes?
- Do more of what works for driving likes, while experimenting with other drivers.
- Try an intern and staff friending contest with a small prize while monitoring this chart to see the medium that is working.
- Create better placement in website user flows not just the generic social icons, IE for a community website signup flow: Step 1 signup, Step 2 Like us on Facebook to stay active.
4. Who are you talking to?
Unfortunately, your posts won’t reach your entire fan base. Industry benchmarks have this percentage at around 12-16%. As a result, it’s simply not enough to get a high number of fans. You want to strive to keep your entire audience continually engaged.
The above graphic can be found in the “people” tab under the “people engaged” section. This demographic will differ from your overall fans because it considers engaged people- fans and non-fans. Knowing this data is arguably more important than knowing your fan base. After all, we’re more interested in someone who recently shared one of our posts than in someone who liked our page 8 months ago but hasn’t interacted with any of our posts.
- What does a typical fan look like?
- Does our audience have gender imbalance?
- Which age demographics aren’t adequately engaged?
- Ask engaging questions that appeal to your most popular demographic in order to spur engagement. Think about market segments and try to imagine what such a person is interested in.
- Compare your engaged user base to the demographics of the target audience at large. Say you run an educational resource organization, and you aim to engage an equal number of males and females. If the data show that your page is appealing more to one gender, you can then take steps to remedy (or embrace) this discrepancy.
Why is all of this important”
Ultimately, the primary reason that organization’s create Facebook pages is to increase conversation around their issue and drive traffic to their site. It is important to not lose sight of this goal. This is why we advise creating a custom alert in Google Analytics to ring the alarm if Facebook referral traffic drops below a certain point. Feel free to copy the code we created below or create your own benchmarks. Custom alerts can be created in the admin section of your GA profile.