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September 21, 2011

A World of Insights – Google Analytics and Facebook Tabs

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As social media continues to grow in popularity and more time and money is invested into it, pages continue to be placed on Facebook with little thought into analytics and measurement.

With the death of the Static FBML page and the ability to now use iFrame’s to display tabs, analytics software – such as Google Analytics – can now be used to track visits, engagement and – where tabs include specific tasks – conversions.

At Bruce Clay Australia you’ll notice there’s been a lot of talk around conversion rate optimisation. This thinking shouldn’t stop at your website, but should be carried over into other areas such as Facebook. You want to know that when people hit your Facebook page, they are being given the greatest incentive to convert as possible – be that hitting the ‘Like’ button, watching a video or signing up to a newsletter.

So what can, and should, you be tracking on your Facebook page?

As with anything the answer to this will largely depend on the content of the tab and the goals your business has for Facebook. This post will aim to give you a “first steps” guide to getting everything in place, and will also cover some topics you should be thinking about before pushing tabs live.

Adding Google Analytics to Tabs:

This is the easy bit, but will depend on what kind of tab you’re using.

The recommended approach is to develop your own Canvas App, which can be done here on the Facebook Developers site.

The benefits of developing your own Canvas App include being able to customise the logo used in navigation and ensuring the iFrame is hosted on a server which is big and fast enough to handle perceived bandwidth; particularly if you’re running a promotion and are expecting large volumes of traffic. The last thing you want is the tab to crash because it can’t handle the traffic.

I’ve found the standard Asynchronous GA script works fine with this setup as long as the URL that is associated with the iFrame is the same as the URL associated with the primary Google Analytics site.

So if your Google Analytics account sits on the site:

  • http://www.mysite.com/

and the Facebook tab sits on a URL such as:

  • http://www.mysite.com/facebook-tab/

The code you’ll be using would be:

Google Analytics Asynchronous Script

As with adding Google Analytics to normal sites, the above code would be placed just before the < /head > tag, and you would change the UA-12345-1 number to the one associated with your GA account.

If you’re not creating an app of your own and are using a free tool such as Static HTML: iframe tabs, or if your iFrame is referencing a different domain than the one associated with your Google Analytics account, you’ll need to add two extra lines to the GA script to track between multiple domains.

The new lines you’ll be adding are:

Google Analytics - Lines of Code

And they fit into the GA script as per the bolded lines below:

Google Analytics code for subdomains

If you’re linking between the Facebook page and your website it can also be helpful to add the _link function to any links between the two. This is gone over in greater on Cross-Domain Tracking page on the Google Code site, however in a nutshell it involves adding the following code to links:

Cross-Domain Tracking

Once tracking is setup it’s a good idea to create profiles within Google Analytics to avoid counting Facebook traffic as website traffic and vice versa.

Using the new version of Analytics, profiles can be added by clicking on the Cog in the top right hand corner of the site as per the image below:

Google Analytics - Edit Profiles

If you haven’t worked with profiles before, more information can be found on Google. One thing to remember is that it’s important to keep a master profile with no filtering to ensure no data is lost if a profile is creating incorrectly.

Tracking Interactions between your Site and Facebook:

It’s also possible to keep an eye on how people are interacting between your website and Facebook. This can provide insights into which content is shared and how many impressions these shares are getting, as well as how many people are interacting with widgets.

Knowing which content is getting shared can be a goldmine for future content creation and can also help with existing content. If certain content is being shared and other content is not, what is missing from the content that’s not being shared and what changes or additions can be made to make it more sharable?  It’s essentially free marketing information – what’s not to love?

Tracking these interactions requires a piece of metadata be added to the head section of your site.

What metadata you use depends on who you need to give access to the Facebook Insights. This can be a single person, a page or an app.

Of note here – while Facebook doesn’t specifically say anything about not adding all three, I have seen various comments in forums saying only the first one you add to a page will work. If you need to add more than one user, your best option is the page_id option below:

Facebook - Website Insights meta tags

Once the relevant meta tag is added to the head section of your site, visit Facebook Insights and click the “Insights for your Website” and enter the domain URL to view insights from that site:

Facebook Insights

From there you’ll have access to a lot of tasty data around the Like button, demographics and more. As long as you have all the correct widgets on your site, insights will include:

Facebook Website Insights

Other Analytics Applications:

What else? The above lists the initial set-up to ensure your tabs have more robust tracking, however this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Take a moment to sit back and think about what would be beneficial to track on Facebook, and what you can track on your own site. Chances are you’ll be able to apply the same tracking functionality across both.

These could include:

  • How people are interacting with your videos on Facebook and your Website to determine which audience responds best. This can help determine the best place to direct people to view your videos for maximum views and engagement
  • A/B or Multivariate testing on forms or sales related pages to get the best conversion rates – what works on your website won’t necessarily work on Facebook
  • A/B or Multivariate testing on landing pages to make sure you’re getting the best landing page view / Like conversion rate possible

A Quick Note on Facebook Policy Guidelines:

As with anything you do on Facebook, it’s essential you keep up to date with the policy guidelines. These can and will change without notice and your page can get slapped with a warning or pulled down for violating these guidelines.

If you’re not sure about a specific guideline, or feel that your page may be occupying a grey area, it’s best to err on the side of caution, particularly if you’re investing a large part of your marketing budget into the platform. The last thing you want to tell your boss after spending thousands on Facebook is that the page has been removed by Facebook because it wasn’t following their policy guidelines!

So now to you – how do you track your Facebook visitors and do you have any tips and tricks to help others get the most out of their data?

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One response to “A World of Insights – Google Analytics and Facebook Tabs”

  1. Béate Vervaecke writes:

    The old crossdomain GA-tracking still functions, but Google has recently updated the “official” way to track cross domain.
    http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/gaTrackingSite.html#multipleDomains



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