The original copy of this article has been published on socialmediaexaminer.com
Do you feel lost when looking at your Facebook page statistics? Well, you’re not alone. The amount of metrics is overwhelming and most of Facebook insights terminology is still hazy for the rest of us.
As a marketer, you know that what can be measured can be managed (and improved) so whatever the complexity, we need to measure our Facebook’s performance. And you’re right. But you also probably know that too much information equal no information and that we only need to measure what we can improve. And you’re right too.
To help you measure your Facebook page’s performance, I advise you to focus on post metrics only. This is because they are the only relevant indicators of the performance of your content. Fan growth can be tricked, daily or monthly reach too, and if your rely on Page metrics such as growth or daily reach, it’s not too complicated to turn a “bad” page into something that looks OK from a distance. but it’s very hard to trick individual post metrics.
In this article, I will:
Fan reach simply corresponds to the number of fans of your page who have seen any given post. This reach is part of the “organic” reach family, which means that it only records the views that occurred directly, and not through an action of a friend (such as a like, share, or comment). The views that are a result of a friend’s actions are recorded in “viral” views.
The Fan reach metric is not available in the Facebook statistics interface, it will only be available in the Excel file available for download.
You’ll find it under the label “Lifetime Post reach by people who like your Page”. Not as user friendly as the web interface, I know, but it is important enough to spend the time retrieving this one.
The Per-post-Fan-reach is probably the most important metric. Its importance is due to being a key indicator of the appeal of your content to your audience and the quality of the said audience.
An audience recruited from an eye-catching contest (or worse, bought by the thousand from sites with practices as questionable as their effectiveness) will quickly hide your posts from their newsfeed. If they don’t actively unsubscribe, their lack of interest, and therefore disengagement, will cause them to be effectively unsubscribed from your publications due to the relentless effect of Edgerank.
Fan reach is a key indicator of the health of your Facebook page. The higher the quality of your audience and the more interesting your content is, the greater the increase in percentage of fans reached will be — and vice versa.
Organic reach corresponds to the number of people, fans and non-fans, who have seen a given post. As with fan reach, organic reach only records views which are not the result of a friend’s action (that would be counted in the viral reach). The real difference between the fan reach (above) and organic reach is that the latter includes views of people that are not fans of the page but have directly accessed your page or seen its content in a widget (for example, a “like box” on your site or blog).
The organic reach is easier to spot as it is located within the insight interface of your page. Just go to your insights, scroll down to your list of post, click on the “reach” number for each post and hover your mouse on the bar chart for “organic” and you’ll see the right number. I agree, this is almost 3 clicks for each post, but at least you don’t have to download the excel version and get lost in the never ending list of tabs and columns.
So, for lack of being able to see fan reach in the Facebook interface, organic reach can serve as a substitute data point.
On the other hand, it won’t be exact and in some cases could even be quite different from the fan reach.
In the two examples below, we found differences between these two metrics that range from a few percent to more than 80%! So before deciding to rely on organic reach as your preferred metric, make sure it is not too far from your fan reach.
Caption: The difference between fan reach and Organic reach can vary significantly from one page to another. In the two examples above you can see that for two different pages, that difference can be 5% for one or 110% for the other! So before relying on Organic reach instead of fan reach, check if your page has a big difference between the two.
It can replace fan reach in the metrics you want to follow, but only if the average difference between organic and fan reach is not too high in your case.
Otherwise, it can help you identify ways to improve your content organic visibility. For example, an organic reach that is very close to a fan reach usually means that people cannot be exposed to your content if they are not already a fan. This could be the consequence of a lack of proper communication about your fan page on your other marketing channels. If you have a website, a blog and a newsletter and no or very little difference between your organic and fan reach, it probably means that you are not attracting new “non fan” audience to your content.
If it is your case, try to better promote your page on these other channels and you should see your organic reach going up.
As defined by Facebook for post level metrics, engagement is “the number of people who clicked anywhere in your post”. That means liking, commenting and sharing, but also people who’ve viewed your video, clicked on your links and photos, but also, clicked on a commenter’s name, liked a comment, clicked on your page name and even gave negative feedback by reporting your post.
Basically, it is the metric to follow right after the reach metric. Reach tells you how many people have potentially seen your content, engagement is the number of people who have acted on that content.
In a way, engagement is less “virtual” than reach. If 1,000 users have been reached but your content, you have no way to know how many of them have actually spent the time to read it. With engagement, if 1,000 persons have clicked on your content, 1,000 have clicked on your content. No guessing, that’s the number.
To see the engagement metric for each post, go to your insights at the same place where you spotted the organic reach. But this time, you won’t have to do several clicks, the number of people who “engaged” with your content (means clicked anywhere on it) is right there, in the “Engaged users” column.
Why it matters?
Engagement, whether the type of engagement that implies “acting” on your post by commenting, liking or sharing it, or the type that is just “passive” such as watching the video, zooming on a photo or clicking on a link, is probably the second most important metric to focus on if you are serious about measuring your page’s performance.
It is not enough to be viewed by a lot of people, you need to make sure that what you offer them as content will trigger some kind of interest. And engagement is the only measurable sign of interest.
Expert tip: when measuring engagement, do not focus on the raw number you can see on your insights. The only way to really understand that metric and later compare posts against one another is to compare the number of engaged people with the number of people reached for the concerned post. Exactly like the formula below.
You end up with a percentage that makes real sense because it takes the exposure of the post into account and allows the comparison between posts.
Caption: Creating these percentages really help bechmarking posts against one another. In the above example, you can see that the posts that got the highest number of engaged users (19,041 and 15,320) had a very different performance, one reprensenting 23.3% of the reached users (huge!) and the other one only 7.4% (just average).
The “People Talking About This” or “PTAT” or even “Storytellers” for Facebook geeks like me, is one of these metrics invented by Facebook and that very few people figure out.
The first thing you need to understand is that this metric is comprised in the engagement metric. So the number of “people talking about” a post are included in the number of people who “engaged” with that post.
The second thing is that what can make an action accounted for in the “people talking about this” metric is limited to 3 types of actions: liking, commenting or sharing your content.
What makes the “people talking about this” different than the mere engagement metric is that engagement in this case potentially generated a publication by that user showing his engagement to his friends.
Here again, go to your insight interface at the same place where you spotted the organic reach and the engagement and look at the “Talking about This” columns. Easy.
This is the “viral” metric. Going back to the roots of your motivation for investing on a Facebook page was probably the dream came true that you could connect with the friends of your existing fans for free! A hell of good promise. That metric is the best one to measure how many people are willing to spread the word about you to their friends.
In plain English, if a user likes, comments or share a post on your page, Facebook may publish to his friends that this user (their friend) liked, commented or shared a piece or content from your page. I emphasize the “may” because Facebook is limiting the reach of these stories very seriously. That is probably why if you used to see in your newsfeed that such and such friends had liked, commented or shared a piece of content from a page, you probably see less and less of that today.
So, even f you still need to follow that metric, don’t expect too much from it. Facebook is still the best place to leverage virality, but it’s not the eldorado it used to be.
Here comes a metric that you are used to! CTR, or Click Through Rate has been around for years on the web and is used to measure the effectiveness of email marketing, banner advertising, search engine ads such as adwords campaigns or landing page quality.
The good news is that it means the same thing within Facebook. This will tell you the number of people who have clicked on a link in your content, watched your video or viewed a larger version of your photo.
Go to your page insight interface, click on the “engaged users” number and you’ll find the number of users who have clicked on your content. If the content is a link, it will be named “link clicks”, if it is a video, it will be labeled “video plays”, if it is a photo, it’ll read “photo views”. Pretty straightforward.
It is nice to know how many people have potentially seen your content (the reach metric), even nicer to know how many of them were interested enough to act on it (engaged users), but the bottom line is really to know how many people were actually interested enough to pay real attention to your content. And that means watching your video, looking at your photo or checking out your link.
That is the bottom of your “content quality” funnel. Keep an eye on it.
A negative feedback is a “negative” action taken by a fan on your piece of content. It can be hiding that specific post, hiding all future posts from your page, unliking your page or worst, reporting it as spam. Simply put, it counts the number of users who really did not like your content or the fact that it appeared in their newsfeed.
Go to your page insight interface, click on the “engaged users” number and you’ll find the number of users who gave a negative feedback at the bottom of that window.
Since September 2012, Facebook has given much more weight to the negative feedback metric. In other words, posts with a high negative feedback will have much less exposure through edgerank and, pages with an average negative feedback that remains high will have less and less reach over time.
Needless to say that if you want to stay in the game of Facebook marketing, you need to keep that number as low as possible.
Expert tip: As with all other engagement metrics (engaged users, ptat, clicks), when measuring negative feedback, do not focus on the raw number you can see on your insights. The only way to really understand that metric and later compare posts against one another is to compare the number of people who gave negative feedback with the number of people reached for the concerned post. You end up with a percentage that makes real sense because it takes the exposure of the post into account and allows the comparison between posts.
Note that using that percentage, the average negative feedback is 0.1%. But some pages go up to 0.7%!
Conclusion: measuring you Facebook page performance may seem like a daunting task if you have to do it manually from the Facebook insight interface or the Excel download, but it is good to start doing it that way to really have a feeling of where the data come from and what they mean.
Once your start being familiar with them, you can use third party tools that will help you save time and get right to the point. Among others, you will find free tools that are a great way to start, such as the Facebook Page Barometer, but also paid tools sich as the Agorapulse Facebook Page Manager (starting at $29 / month).
Your turn! What metric are you paying attention to and why? Do you do that on Facebook directly or do you use a tool? I’d be happy to learn from you too!