Original article posted on Open Forum
In the past several years, businesses large and small have come to realize the positive impact of engaging their brand-loyal public and—more importantly—potential customers, via Facebook pages. While fan pages are typically seen as a destination for users to remain privy to brand news, a recent comScore report shows that a page is really just the place where content resides, as fans are 40 to 150 times more likely to consume branded material in their news feeds than on the actual fan page itself. This discovery led to Facebook’s expansion of its page "insights," including new metrics and analytics designed to constantly remind business owners of what truly matters: engaging content.
Facebook utilizes an algorithm that ensures 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 it is liked, shared, commented on, etc. When fans of a company interact with branded content, it can then be passed on to their friends and their friends' friends. With fan acquisition as the main motive behind the Facebook strategy of most businesses, it is helpful to learn that friends of fans are more likely to visit a brand’s store, website and even 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, and if the content goes viral it can directly affect the success of a business. So, ultimately there's a need for better insights into Facebook content consumption.
Facebook's advertising communications manager, Elisabeth Diana, states that the “real purpose behind Facebook page insights is to provide all page admins with ways to understand how to reach and acquire new customers.” New metrics have been created in order to provide businesses with not only information about how people are interacting with a brand page, but also a glimpse into how people are connecting 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 their 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, Diana says, “this is just the first step in enhancing page insights for small businesses and brands; 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.