Your Facebook business page is a haven for well-crafted status updates, photos, and links -- it's the ultimate content-sharing platform. But in order to understand which content you post is actually benefiting your business, you need to take the time to analyze your Facebook Insights (Facebook's proprietary business page analytics tool) to capitalize on what works and wave au revoir to what doesn't.

Trouble is, if you’ve ever exported data from Facebook Insights, you understand the overwhelming nature of what you receive. With multiple sheets and columns of never-ending data points, it can be hard to know what you're looking at, let alone what the data means! Many of the data points are repetitive and/or provide no way to improve your marketing. This post will delve into exactly what you need to extract and analyze in order to learn how to improve your Facebook content strategy. Either follow along with the video tutorial, or read the steps below.

Let's get started!

1) Export With the Right Settings

First, we need to export the data. Go to your Facebook Insights tool (you can access it through your Admin Panel in the new page design) and click the "Export Data" button above the graph and to the right. Choose the following settings, specifying the date range you want to analyze:

export insights data

2A) Trim the Useless Fat

As we mentioned before, Facebook provides you with an overwhelming amount of data. It's no wonder we don't see more people exporting and making important marketing decisions based off them -- you don't even know what you're looking at! In fact, there are so many columns of different data points, that it goes beyond the alphabetically categorized columns in Excel, which must start marking columns using two letters.

Note: Each of the data points below are split into three separate data points in your exported insights: daily, weekly, and 28 days. We are focusing on daily -- social media moves too fast to be focusing on the impact your content has on a weekly or monthly basis. According to StatCounter, the half-life of a shared link on Facebook is about 3.2 hours (the point in time when a link has garnered half of the engagement it will ever receive). Thus, it's essentially a waste of your time to look past daily.

Now, let's trim all the excess fat. Delete columns bolded in black, and keep columns bolded in orange below.

  • People Talking About This: DELETE. This is the number of people sharing stories about your page. At first glance, that sounds lovely. But this includes people who like your page, people who post on your wall, and even people who RSVP to one of your events. The action of liking (or unliking) a page or declining an event are not actions that show any sort of engagement with the brand -- or even indicate that people are talking about you. 
  • Page Stories: DELETE. This metric is the "number of stories created by your page." How is that different from above, or what makes it different? Facebook doesn't tell us, and if you don't know exactly what it means -- cut it.
  • Lifetime Total Likes: KEEP. This is the number of people who have liked your page by that day. This is an important figure for observing how your content posting is translating into more attention and more people liking your page, letting you know they want to receive your content.
  • New Likes and Unlikes: DELETE. Spending your time tracking the increases and decreases in your page likes will only frustrate you. What's more important is to focus on is how your overall number of lifetime likes is trending.
  • Friends of Fans: KEEP. This is the fans of all the lifetime likes listed above (AKA all the people who could possibly see your content). This is your pool of people who will potentially see what you're posting. We'll discuss this more in the next step.
  • Engaged Users: DELETE. Oooh that sounds nice! Don't be fooled by the buzzword. Facebook tells us this is the "number of people engaged with your page." This is as vague as page stories. If we don't know how they're engaging, we can't use this metric.
  • Reach: DELETE. The endless reach numbers provided in your exported sheet -- organic, paid or viral -- focuses on the number of people who have seen your content. "Seeing" your content could mean a user scrolled past it in their feed, or it popped on their ticker. That doesn't mean they actually looked at. There's a big difference. Toss it.
  • Impressions: DELETE. Impressions is a measure of the number of times your content or page was seen. There's no specificity as to who actually saw it, what they saw, or if there was any interaction with it. Who cares if they saw your page if they didn't do something when they arrived?
  • Logged-In Users: DELETE. While your public page may be seen by users in search engine results, we can assume that most people who saw your content did so while logged into Facebook. Regardless, knowing whether they were logged in or not is not the focus of your analysis.
  • Page Consumers: DELETE. We're getting warmer. This metric tells you the number of people who clicked on any of your content on your page. A link, a photo, a status. It even excludes useless clicks such as clicking your like button. This is what we want, but there's a better metric coming next that we'll use instead.
  • Page Consumption: KEEP. While this metric sounds exactly the same as the one above, it's even better. This data point doesn't focus on the number of people who consumed your content, but rather the number of total page consumption. One "consumer" could be consuming more than one post on your page, so this metric would count those two clicks as two clicks rather than one click from "one consumer" as in the metric above. This is what you want. You want to know that, of the content you are posting, how much of it is actually being consumed -- actually being clicked.
  • Negative Feedback: DELETE. Having any social account means you're ready to take the heat when things get negative and address them. You shouldn't be focusing your time on analyzing how much of it you're receiving, as it's very difficult to measure how to prevent someone from having a negative experience. Sometimes it's due to being in a bad mood and nothing to do with your actual brand. Facebook also doesn't say how it determines if a comment is negative.
  • Check-Ins: DELETE. This is the number of check-ins at your business. Certain business pages don't even allow users to "check-in" because the company page is not a brick and mortar type business. For businesses that do focus on people physically coming into their store, this could be interesting to look at, but for this particular content analysis, it serves no purpose in determining how it can benefit what you're posting on your actual page.

Facebook also gives you other sheets of content which you can use for a deeper look into your analytics. But for the purposes of this tutorial, we'll focus on the "key metrics" that will help you make better marketing content strategy decisions on Facebook.

2B) The Meaty Data

facebook insights icon resized 600After you've trimmed all the fat, you're left with three data points: Lifetime Total Likes, Daily Friends of Fans, and Daily Page Consumption. This is the meat of your data; the figures that will help you understand how your content is performing on Facebook. Lifetime Total Likes tells you exactly how many people like your page, Daily Friends of Fans tells you how many friends of those total likes can be reached -- your true total reach. Then, Daily Page Consumption tells you the number of people (out of the possible number of people who could have been reached) that were actually reached.

3) Fine-Tune the Metrics You Need

Now that we've narrowed down that massive sheet to three main data points, let's insert a new column next to your "Daily Friends of Fans" column, and name it "Total Daily Reach." Click the first row of your newly created column and start typing =SUM into the row. Then click on the first data point in your "Daily Friends of Fans" column, insert a plus sign, and click the first data point in your "Lifetime Total Likes" column. Hit enter, and you will have the sum of those two metrics. Then highlight the sum, hit copy, and drag the corner of the box down to populate the entire column with data (Check ~4:30 in the video above if you need more help with this step). You'll see that Lifetime Total Likes and Daily Friends of Fans have now totaled to represent the Total Daily Reach your Facebook page has -- every single person who could possibly see your content.

Now we have two key insights: 1) the total number of people who could have possibly consumed your content, and 2) the actual number of people who consumed it.

4) Make the Data Pretty

Now you can go ahead and create a visual representation of your two key metrics to understand the full picture of what is going on.

First, highlight the "Date" column as well as the "Daily Total Reach" column. Click Charts --> Line Chart --> Stacked Line. You should get something like this, which will indicate the growth of your total Facebook reach:

Chart A: Total Facebook Reach Growth

facebook reach resized 600

Now repeat these steps, instead highlighting the "Date" column as well as the "Total Post Consumption" column. The resulting chart should be much more interesting, as it represents trends in how people are either increasingly or decreasingly clicking on and consuming the content you're publishing to your Facebook page.

Chart B: Daily Post Consumption

facebook engagement resized 600

5) Extract Conclusions

While pretty charts can also help you impress your boss in marketing meetings, what you really need to do now to make this all worthwhile is to look at the data and correlate it with what you're posting on Facebook. For example, analyze why there are instances of your line decreasing (this indicates a drop in engagement) on one day, and why is there a spike on another day (which indicates an increase in engagement)?

Using HubSpot's Facebook page as an example, from Chart A we generated in step 4, we see that there is a constant increase in our total Facebook reach. We don't have much to be concerned with since the reach number is steadily increasing, but if that chart was inconsistently jumping up and down, showing a decrease, or showing no change, then we would probably want to test new Facebook campaigns and try posting different types of content to figure out how we could positively impact our reach growth. Ultimately, the more expansive the reach you have, the more opportunities you'll have to convert Facebook fans into leads and customers for your business. And isn't that the ultimate goal?

This leads us to the "Daily Post Consumption" chart (Chart B) we also generated in step 4 -- the actual number of people who were reached and are consuming our content. As you can see, something happened that led to a slow decrease in HubSpot's click-through rates (CTR). As a result of this analysis, the HubSpot social media team looked through the content we published to Facebook on certain days to identify which content posts were not being clicked or engaged with on our page.

By taking the time to relate individual posts with their clicks, you can analyze which types of content perform well on your page. In HubSpot's case, by doing so, we were able to get our act together, cut out what wasn't working, and post more of what was working, helping us to spike up our engagement rate once more, as illustrated in the graph.

6) Constantly Analyze

Now you have a system in place that will allow you analyze your Facebook content strategy daily, weekly, or monthly -- whenever you choose to check in on your metrics (we suggest often!). Save your original exported sheet, and add to that every time you update. By tracking your progress, you'll never be caught off guard when you start noticing that traffic and leads from Facebook are suddenly on the decline. Remember, more engagement with your Facebook content leads to better potential for traffic and leads from Facebook.

There you have it! Hopefully the daunting task of understanding Facebook Insights to improve your content strategy is now a valuable process for your marketing team.

Further Facebook Marketing Help exclusive webinar with facebook.jpg resized 600

If you need help figuring out what content you should be posting to increase engagement and how you can use that to reach those "Friends of Fans," be sure to attend workshops three and four of our upcoming webinar series with Facebook, Facebook for Business: 4 Steps to Success. Then you'll have a complete system in place to not only analyze, but to also make improvements to your Facebook content strategy!

How else are you using Facebook Insights to improve your Facebook marketing strategy?

Image credit: TabJuice

generate leads with facebook

Originally published Mar 28, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


Social Media Strategy