Facebook rolled out an enhancement to the Insights reporting tool for Page administrators last week. Insights is basically a stripped down analytics tool for Facebook Pages. Since we run a page with 25,000 fans (Blue Ridge Parkway Daily), we thought we’d give you a look at Insights with a lot of numbers and what you can pull from them. (Note: you will see a downward trend in these numbers over the past month. This is due to the Parkway visitor numbers dropping dramatically after Halloween. The Parkway actually closes for most of the winter, so interest in the Parkway page drops as well.)
Insights Overview Data
There are a couple of new data sets in this screenshot, which has been pulled from the preceding month, by default.
- “Friends of Fans” is new but is a rather meaningless number. There is no way your post is going to be displayed to all of your fans’ friends. But we can’t blame Facebook for wanting to brag about their ubiquity (as if we didn’t know the rule the world already). Thumbs Down for wasting our time with Facebook marketing.
- “People Talking About This” is a new number that reveals how many people have taken some action on or about your Page. This could be a like, share, comment, etc. There is some value in knowing how many people are actively involved with your Page. Thumbs Up for good new data.
- “Weekly Total Reach” is a view of how many people have seen any content associated with your Page. Facebook used to give us what they called “Monthly Active Users”. They described that data as the number of people who have interacted with or viewed your posts. Basically the same thing. Reach now equals Active Users. Thumbs Down for changing terminology on us.
- There is no date selection available. The real value in good analytics is the ability to recognize past trends and begin to predict the future, thus making the future better. Every data set in these Insights tables should have both date selection and data comparison as in Google Analytics. In fact, I hesitated to give any Thumbs Ups for any of the data on this Page 1 set because the data is so inflexible.
Insights Overview Graph
This is where it gets a little more interesting. The age-old (okay, 2-yr-old) question is what types of content gets users engaged on Facebook? Looking at the reach, engagement, and virality of specific post types is valuable info. The best thing about this chart is that by clicking on the top row, you can sort highest to lowest or vice versa to see which posts performed best and worst. Great move, Facebook. Also, if you click on a number in the chart you get a pie graph explaining the number in more detail.
- “Reach”, again, means views. You can safely assume that a large number of these views are on the news feed and mixed in with lots of other posts. Impressions are not the same as actions taken, but it is true that each time that post is displayed your Page and brand are being embedded in the mind of the viewer. Thumbs up for giving us good stuff.
- “Engaged Users” is good. This gives us a good measuring stick of which specific posts got viewers to take some type of action. In our case, 95% of our posts are pictures. This number generally means that x number of people clicked on a picture to view it full size. Thumbs Up for giving us good stuff.
- “People Talking About This” is good as well. These are folks who liked, commented on, or shared your post. This generally corresponds well with the “Engaged Users” column. Thumbs Up for giving us good stuff.
- “Virality” is fantastic. “The percentage of people who have created a story from your post out of the total number of people who have seen it.” The interesting thing here is to combine this number with the reach column and you get not only of which posts perform well, but which types of posts Facebook displays the most. You’re getting a little peek into Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm. For instance, our second most viral post in the past month was a question. Yet the question got 5x less reach (1,189 to 5,484) than the top picture post which had almost exactly the same virality (4.71% to 4.83%). The takeaway is that built into EdgeRank is a bias toward displaying pictures over and over again in a news feed. It appears as though once a question has been answered, FB quits displaying it in a news feed. Thumbs Up for letting us see a little bit of how EdgeRank works.
- Facebook has limited the date selection to the past 89 days. Three months is not enough. Surely their infrastructure could handle the workload of mining data from two years ago. We assume the data just isn’t there to mine for this set. But it sure would be nice.
Where Your Likes Came From
How You Reached People
- The “Reach” graph is meaningless. Thumbs Down for trying to fill space.
- “Unique Users by Frequency” is very, very good data. Here we see how many people see your posts only once (maybe friends of fans?) and how many people are seeing your posts over and over and over again. This is like the “Repeat Visitors” versus “One-Time Visitors” data you get in a good ole analytics account. Knowing that our page has thousands of fans each month who see our posts 6, 10, or 21 plus times is good to know. Thumbs Up for giving us good stuff.
Facebook’s Insights evolution over the last few years has been slow and painful. When you are used to seeing flexible, valuable, refined data in Google Analytics, you come to expect that out of a behemoth like Facebook as well. But we have to remember that Facebook is reinventing the way we interact with each other. It will take some time to refine the terminology and put the data anchors in place to measure the right information. They need to figure it out and figure it out soon. They have held off competitors pretty well so far, but things can change in a hurry. Selling Page admins, who also happen to be the majority of Facebook advertisers, on the value they glean from their pages (through Insights) will make them a lot of money and keep them at the top for a long time if they can continue to give us the tools to make things work. This most recent update was a big step forward, but it was long overdue.