Facebook's New Analytics Reminds Businesses to Engage Fans

Fans are 40-150 times more likely to consume branded content in their newsfeeds than on an actual fan page. Translation?
November 21, 2011

New Facebook analytics are designed to remind businesses to engage fans on their business pages.

Businesses large and small see the positive impact of engaging their brand-loyal public and—more importantly—potential customers with Facebook business pages.

While fan pages are typically seen as a destination for users who want to be privy to brand news, a recent comScore report shows that a page is really just the place where content resides. Fans are 40 to 150 times more likely to consume branded material in their news feeds than on the fan page itself. This discovery led to Facebook’s expansion of its Insights page to include new metrics and analytics for business owners, showing that engaging content does matter.

Facebook uses an algorithm that ensures that the most relevant content for each user finds its way onto that particular user’s news feed. The relevancy of this content is determined by a number of factors, including how many times viewers like, share or comment on a page.

When fans of a company interact with branded content, they pass it on to their friends and their friends' friends. Fan acquisition is the main motive behind most business Facebook strategy, so it's helpful to learn that friends of fans are more likely to visit a brand’s store or website, and even to purchase a product than the average, uninfluenced consumer.

In addition, the average friends-of-fans group for the top 100 brand pages on Facebook is 34 times larger than the fan group. This means that a business can often have greater influence among its second-degree connections. If the content goes viral, it can directly affect the success of a business. So, we need better insights into Facebook content consumption.

“The real purpose behind Facebook page Insights is to provide all page admins with ways to understand how to reach and acquire new customers,” says Facebook's advertising communications manager, Elisabeth Diana. It has created new metrics to give businesses not only information about how people interact with a brand page, but also a glimpse into how people connect with the page's content in other parts of Facebook.

One of the metrics added to Facebook's Insights is “People are talking about this.” This set of data counts stories that are eligible to appear in a user’s newsfeed, such as any likes, wall posts, comments, shares, questions answered, RSVPs to events, page mentions, photo tagging and location checkins. The metric allows the page administrator to know what posts have proven the most compelling and interactive.

Another metric added to the equation is the metric of virality, which allows for insight into how viral a particular post is. Virality is determined by dividing the number of “people talking about this” by the reach (the number of people who actually saw the content).

Diana notes that because virality is a percentage, whether a business is large or small, the metric “can be used to compare across all page posts.” The virality metric allows page admins to analyze the success of individual posts and will hopefully lead to an improved page strategy through a better understanding of the audience.

Along with these new metrics comes aesthetic changes as well. “Whether you want to get into the deep end or wade in slowly,” Diana says, Facebook wants to make its page Insights “digestible for everyone, easy to sort and actionable.” She says most of the heavy numbers have been removed from page Insights, but “for those needing something a little more hardcore, there is always the option to export to a spreadsheet.”

Either way, “this is just the first step in enhancing page insights for small businesses and brands," says Diana. "there is more to come.” So, look out for the Facebook Insight API. In the meantime, however, Facebook will continue to help business owners figure out how to provide their audiences with the most engaging content possible to guarantee a greater reach and increased sales.