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June 1, 2011

Beginners Facebook Metrics for Measuring Engagement

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Facebook Insights can be a confusing place for those who haven’t dived into them yet. What to track and how are common questions companies have when trying to measure their return on investment.

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According to SEMPO’s State of Search Marketing report for 2011, measuring customer engagement was among the top three metrics companies use to gauge the success of their social media efforts.

So today, we’re going to talk about different metrics that can be used to measure engagement on your Facebook page.

Feedback Percentage as a Metric to Measure Engagement

The first, more popular metric to measure engagement is Insight’s “feedback” percentage. This can be found underneath a post 24 hours after it goes live. The percent feedback is the total number of comments plus likes divided by the number of impressions on a post. This also includes likes and comments from the admin of the Facebook page.

As a reminder, the definition of an impression by Facebook is:

“This is the raw number of impressions that have been shown to users. These impressions can come from a user’s news feed, a visit to the Page, or through an Open Graph social plugin.”

Last week, we touched on the Insights feedback percentage as an indicator of a post’s success and how it works in conjunction with Facebook’s EdgeRank – the algorithm that determines the “top news” in a person’s home page feed.

The more interaction with a post, the likelier it is to be rated as Top News. So, it’s a cyclical chain of events where more interaction equals more exposure equals more engagement.

Depending on who you ask, the ideal percent feedback varies. One way to approach it is to first steadily match the highest percent feedback you’ve had, and then try to improve it. I started by aiming for 1 percent on the Bruce Clay Facebook page.

Here are some ways to approach increasing the feedback percentage metric:

  • Take stock of the posts that have the highest feedback percentage over a period of time and analyze the crap out of them. What type of media was it? How did you word the status update? What type of conversation occurred under the update? Is there a common like to comment ratio on certain updates?
  • Experiment using those elements that have been successful in the past and compare results.
  • Try new methods to increase engagement using ideas from published research by others. Dan Zarrella suggests certain words in status updates are more favorable than others. Check out Dan’s data on Facebook updates.
  • Like and comment on your own posts and status updates. While this can help boost your place into the Top News feed, some argue it’s not a true indicator of success when the admin is skewing results.

If you side with that last point, you can figure out the percent feedback is without admin engagement. Subtract the number of likes and comments posted by the company and divide that number by impressions. That will give you the percent feedback without admin interaction.

However, when we’re talking “engagement,” it’s never one sided. It’s not like wanting to discount traffic to a site from certain people who work for that company. It doesn’t really skew the data because engagement is a two-way street. So to me, counting the company’s engagement with its community as part of the feedback makes sense.

Using Metrics Together for a Big-Picture Snapshot

Aside from the feedback percentage, you can use other Insights metrics to get a big-picture look at the success of a post. This includes:

  • Daily Story Feedback
  • Daily Active Users
  • Post Views

Let’s take a look at the most successful Bruce Clay Facebook post for May 2011 based on feedback percentage:

May High Feedback 2

The nature of the update was a question to the community on March 12. It had two likes, 14 comments and 1,180 impressions. Both participants and the admin commented on the post. Both participants and the admin also “liked” others’ comments within the conversation. The total feedback percentage for this was 1.36 percent – more than the target goal of 1 percent.

But, was it a total success? Well, if my only metric for measuring engagement was to reach my target feedback percentage for posts, then I would say “yes.” But, there are other metrics we can use to get the big picture.

For example, the “daily story feedback,” found under Insights > Interactions shows us likes, comments and unsubscribes on a graph. The official definition from Facebook is:

“Daily Story Feedback: When you post stories to people who like your Page, they can engage with your content by liking or commenting. They can also choose to unsubscribe from your Page so that stories will not appear in their News Feed in the future.”

Unsubscribing is not the same as unliking a page (having a hard time with all this new Facebook terminology in our language, BTW), but if you’re measuring engagement, it might as well be, because this person does not want to receive any more updates from your Facebook page.

So, back to our May 12 post with the high percentage feedback; looking under our daily story feedback metric, I see one person who unsubscribed to our updates that day:

Daily Story Feedback

I took a look at the other activity on May 12 to try and make an educated guess. Looks like on that day in particular, the page was particularly active, with three posts, two of which had several comments each:

May 12

So it could be that this person felt we were spamming their news feed that day, and it just became too obtrusive. Either that, or the last post that announced our servers were down that day pushed them over the edge (I know it was driving all of us crazy).

Checking the graph that shows “new likes” and “unlikes,” found under Insights > Users, I see that the no one actually unliked us on that day in particular, so that was a win even though a person unsubscribed, which was a lose.

Like to Unlike Ratio

Another metric we can look at for the May 12 post is “daily active users.” Active users as defined by Facebook are one-day, seven-day or 30-day counts of people who have interacted with or viewed your page or its posts.

This can be a telling metric of success versus just counting your fan base. If you haven’t checked out our recent post on the value of a Facebook fan, take a minute to do so. High numbers of fans don’t always equal more success.

The active user metric can tell you how many in your fan base are actually engaging. In the case of the May 12 post, we can see there were 182 active users – among the highest count in the month.

To figure out what percentage of fans are engaging, divide the daily active user number (or weekly or monthly) by the total number of fans and multiply it by 100. In the case of the May 12 post, our engagement percentage was about 28 percent.

Daily Active Users

So, is that good? It’s subjective. I don’t know if it was a successful percentage rate because I have not yet set goals for this metric. Each individual business needs to target percentage rates that make sense for them.

Another useful metric is the “post views” metric. Some people are wooed by the number of impressions in their feedback percentage. While number of impressions factors into that percentage, remember that an impression is just a count of the number of times the post was rendered in a news feed.

Facebook’s definition of post views is:

“Post Views: The number of times people (Fans and non-Fans) have viewed a News Feed story posted by your Page, during the date range you specified.”

Post views can be seen in Insights > Interactions, and you can drill down by month, week or day by setting the specified date. On the date of May 12, post views were at 1,409 (both posts on that day have a total number of 2,062 impressions).

Post Views

You could then divide the post views for that day by the total number of impressions multiplied by 100 to guesstimate the percentage of people viewing a post from the total number of times it was rendered in a news feed. In the case of the May 12 post, it was at about a 68 percent conversion rate.

Sounds pretty good to me, but again, have not set goals for this metric. That’s something that must be done ahead of time to measure success.

Making Sense of All the Metrics

Getting to know your Facebook Insights on a more intimate level can help you to set goals for your Facebook page. Remember, social media is subjective to the business.

As much as people want to create benchmarks for best practices in social media metrics, it’s up to individual companies to decide how their success will be defined based on metrics and how the social medium plays into the higher objectives of the company as a whole.

Got tips for measuring Facebook fan engagement? Feedback on this post? Please share below, thanks!

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4 responses to “Beginners Facebook Metrics for Measuring Engagement”

  1. Kent writes:

    Hi Jessica, there is another popular social media management tool called Sprout Social, have you compared the metrics between Sprout Social and Facebook Page Insight? I tried few social media management tools, some of them give me different results.

  2. Smith Search Eccentric writes:

    I am really agree with you Bruce. Most of the times facebook is not showing accurate data and misleading the data can be create problem for reporting purpose also and client also .

  3. Jessica Lee writes:

    Hi, Kent! I have not, interesting — which do you feel is a better indicator?

  4. Kent writes:

    I am trying to figure out as well. Will get the answer soon. :)



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