When you log into Facebook Insights (the native analytics tool for pulling data about your Facebook brand pages & apps) it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A single Insights report from Facebook includes 60+ Excel tabs full of data – the first tab alone provides over 90 different unique (and uniquely named!) metrics, while each subsequent tab provides more data that can be used to help tell a story. All-in-all, a Facebook-page administrator has access to several hundred data points that can provide insight into a campaign. While it’s great to have access to all of this information, it’s no surprise that most advertisers, companies, research organizations, and analysts are left confused when it comes to sorting out this data and measuring the success of their social media efforts. To put this "metrics overload" into context, there are currently over 16 Million unique Google search results for "best Facebook metrics", a number that really indicates how many users are really looking for (or creating their own) POV on the topic.
Facebook recently hosted an event titled “Measuring Success” via the Facebook Studio (you can watch the recap on the Facebook Live Talks App here) where their measurement team discussed their thoughts on how agencies & brands can effectively measure the platform. Facebook’s measurement approach breaks down into four main buckets:
- Reach – Numbers, demos, overlap and frequency.
- Brand Resonance – Changes in perception.
- Reaction – Impact on sales and maximizing efficiency across channels.
- Consumer Insights – Insights about consumer behavior, product and brand that can improve my business.
While we agree with Facebook that these are key metrics for measuring the overall Facebook platform, we noticed that the above buckets don’t address measuring & evaluating individual pieces of content published on Facebook. We’ve narrowed down those 60+ Excel tabs of Insights into a hand-full of metrics that we believe will help agencies & brands better measure the success of their content on the social platform.
1. Fan Reach Percent – Once you've acquired a Facebook fan base, it becomes important to understand how to best engage this audience. And while it's great to have a large fan base, it isn’t about how many fans you have, but how many you are actively reaching. In 2011, a Comscore and Facebook study revealed that an average of only 16 percent of fans are exposed to content from a brand that posts five of seven days a week. Fan Reach Percent will help you both understand how many of your fans you are currently reaching with content on a daily, weekly & monthly time frame, while also providing insight into how frequently you should be messaging them to maintain a consistent content conversation.
By dividing the total daily, weekly & monthly organic reach (the total number of fans who see your content) by a brand’s total fans for that time period, you can easily understand the total percentage of fans that are being reached over a trending period of time. This quick math will give you the ability to understand your brands Fan Reach Percent in a given time period. And by trending this over time, you can understand how other events (an influx of new fans via media or implementing new creative content for instance) may have impacted your brands actual reach. This data below can help identify opportunities to determine an optimal content distribution strategy, optimize long-term content campaigns, and better understand the frequency that your fans view your brand page content.
2. Content Reach Percent – Outside of being able to understand the long-term reach of a brand page, it's important to understand how each unique piece of content reaches it's audience for several different reasons. A new feature that Facebook provides to administrators is the ability to easily measure the reach of each specific post. Below, you can see a sample screenshot from Facebook that shows what percentage of our fan base was exposed to a specific piece of content.
While this data point impacts our first metric, Fan Reach Percent, it more importantly helps provide insight into your brand’s EdgeRank score. (Facebook’s algorithm that determines what content a user sees in their newsfeed). Content with the highest reach percentage is more than likely the content that Facebook believes will be engaged with, and can help provide actionable insights into what type of content (photo, link, status, etc) a brand should be creating for their audience. This data can also be used to help identify what days of week, and times of day, are the best for reaching a brand's target audience.
3. Content Engagement Rate – Once you know roughly how many users you are expecting to reach with your content, and what content your fans are most likely to see, it’s important to understand how consumers engaged with your content. Facebook provides a large volume of data to help marketers identify their best social content. A sample report is below:
Based on the data above, there are a number of ways to read this data. On a first glance, you may see “Post B” has almost twice the number of engaged users while “Post A” has a higher Virality Score (Total Facebook stories created divided by reach). It gets even more difficult as the People Talking About This metric says both posts are nearly identical in terms of performance.
While all of these metrics are great, and provide insight, we really think there is something missing as all of these metrics are designed to drive actions and engagement on Facebook – and aren’t designed to optimize based off a strategic business goal, such as increasing site traffic referrals or leading to an e-commerce purchase.
In these cases, there are many actions a user can take that you can argue are more important than a like, comment or share. A few examples are below; however this list is in no way comprehensive. We encourage each marketer to better align social media KPIs to business goals, similarly to below.
Why is this so important? Measuring the success of any advertising platform, Facebook included, isn't as simple as pulling a single metric and comparing it to other past campaigns, pieces of content, etc. At the end of the day, the best way to understand the success of Facebook content, is to determine which metrics (or combination of metrics) best align to the over-arching strategy of the campaign, and then optimize your content based on these aligned metrics. We would always suggest that the best measurement (and optimization plans) ladders to up channel-specific KPIs that reflect the overarching program - and business - goals. This ensures optimization based on what is the most accurate indicator of effectiveness for your brand - versus what's easy to get from Facebook.