A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights is an analytics tool for your Page that helps you make better marketing decisions with Facebook. It shows you what your fans like to talk about so that you can publish content that continues to engage them. Insights also helps you spend your Facebook advertising dollars more wisely by targeting Facebook users who are similar to your most engaged fans.

Most important, Insights helps you discover the strategies that work for your specific Facebook Page community. These strategies are better than any you’d get from relying on your gut or, worse, the best practices you read on some blog.

In this sense, Facebook Insights is your personal GPS for your Facebook Page, telling you exactly what you need to do to arrive at your destination. The destination, of course, is each marketing campaign objective.

In this guide, I show you how to improve your Page by using the information Facebook Insights provides. I explain what the metrics are and how to use them to reach your goals. I also offer tips on how to integrate third-party analytics into your Page.

Getting Analytical with Facebook Insights

As you proceed with your Facebook marketing journey, you begin to get a sense of what’s working and what isn’t working. You see that some of your Page updates get a lot of Likes and comments, while others get only crickets.

Based on these simple observations, you’ll get hunches about what kind of Page stories work, and you may eventually get better at posting stories that effectively engage your fans.

Although this type of nonanalytical analysis — thinking with your gut — is an effective way for beginners to see how Facebook users respond to content, it doesn’t provide the data you need to be truly successful as a Facebook marketer. The following list, for example, includes some questions you won’t be able to answer with your gut:

  • What were the most engaging updates within a specific period?
  • Do your fans prefer videos or photos?
  • How many times are you reaching fans each week?
  • What other websites sent traffic to your Facebook Page?
  • How many fans hid your Page stories on their News Feeds?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to your intuition, because we both know that following your gut can give you great information. Confirming your intuition with statistics, however, is just smart business.

Additionally, with Insights you can identify trends within your Facebook Page — such as where most of your engaged users are located, their ages, and their genders — that you’d never see by scrolling down your Page Timeline. Understanding trends helps you adjust your content strategy based on what’s really working instead of basing it on best guesses and random shots in the dark. Additionally, this information can help you target Facebook Ads much more effectively.

Using Facebook Insights

The next few sections show you how to access and use Facebook Insights.

Keep in mind that only Page admins (all roles) can access Insights.

Understanding the two types of Likes your Facebook Page receives

Before you dive into analyzing how effective your Facebook Page efforts are, you need to understand that your Facebook Page can have two types of Likes:

  • People liking your Page by becoming fans or connections of your Page. Facebook users can Like (become a fan by clicking the Like button) and Unlike your Page.
  • People liking your content by clicking Like after reading a specific post or Page story that you publish on your Timeline. Facebook users can also stop a single story or all stories from your Page from appearing in their News Feeds.

Accessing Page Insights

You can access Facebook Page Insights in three ways:

  • Directly on the Page: To access Facebook Insights, log in and then click the Insights link on the admin navigation bar at the top of your Facebook Page
  • From the Facebook Insights web page: If you manage more than one Page, you can bookmark the All Pages screen — where all your Pages are listed — for future reference.
  • From the Pages Manager app: If you use the Facebook Pages Manager app (for Android and iOS), you have access to a scaled-down version of Insights right within your mobile device.

Exploring Facebook Page Insights

Facebook Page Insights provides critical data about activity on your Page, such as people liking your Page, and about activity related to your Page updates, such as when users comment on or like one of your Page updates.

Facebook Insights displays data on seven tabs:

  • Overview: An overview of how your Page is performing day to day
  • Likes: Reports about the Facebook users who like your Page
  • Reach: A report about the Facebook users who see your Page content
  • Visits: A report about the tabs on your page that Facebook users visit, as well as the sources of web traffic
  • Posts: A report about how Facebook users are engaging with your Facebook Page updates
  • People: Demographic reports on the people you reach, the people who like your page, and the people who engage with your content
  • Check-ins: A report on people who check in to your business via the Facebook mobile app

In the next few sections, I discuss these tabs in greater detail.

Understanding the Overview Report

The Overview report is the first tab you see when you click Insights. This report shows the total Page Likes (fans) you’ve acquired over the past week, how many people saw your posts over the past week, and how many people engaged with your updates over the previous seven days. You can see stats about your most recent posts, as well as stats about other Pages you watch, which allows you to compare the performance of your Page and posts with similar Pages on Facebook.

The default date range for the Overview report is a seven-day period ending with the present date.

The following list goes over the various parts of this report in detail:

  • Page Likes: The Pages Likes section shows the total number of people who like your Facebook Page and the percentage increase or decrease of this number compared with the previous week. An increase is shown in green, and a decrease is shown in red.
  • Post Reach: This section shows the number of people who saw any content associated with your Page (including any Ads or Sponsored Stories pointing to your Page) over the past seven days. The percentage to the right of this number is the increase (green) or decrease (red) over the past week.
  • Engagement: This section shows the number of people who engaged with your Page over the past seven days. This number includes the users who liked your Page; the users who liked, commented on, or shared a post from your Page; the users who answered a question you asked on your Page; the users who tagged your Page in an update or in a photo; and the users who responded to an event on your Page. The percentage to the right of this number is the increase (green) or decrease (red) over the past week.
  • Your 5 Most Recent Posts: This section shows you statistics on your five most recently published updates. I discuss these stats in greater detail in the section titled “Evaluating Posts with the Posts Report,” but for now, just know that the data in this report covers reach and engagement for your five most recent posts.
  • Pages to Watch: This section shows you how the Pages you watch are performing. You can select any page to add to this list. Simply click the Add Pages button and search for the Facebook Page you want to include in your “Pages to Watch”.

Note: Each summary section within the Overview report allows you to click through to each full report to see more comprehensive data.

Although the Overview report lacks the data you need for a comprehensive analysis of your Facebook marketing, checking it each day allows you to see quickly whether your audience and its level of engagement is growing or shrinking.

Using the Likes Report for Smarter Fan Acquisition

The Likes report shows your fan growth, as well as the locations from which Facebook users have Liked your Page (that is, from the News Feed, Like Box, or another source).

To view the Likes report, click Insights on the navigation bar and then click the Likes sub-tab.

At the top of the Likes report, you can select the date range for the report. Select a custom range to analyze, or choose one of three predefined segments of time: one week, one month, or one quarter. (The Visits tab and the Reach tab also include this feature for customizing the date range.)

Make sure that you select a period of time before and after any changes you’ve made in your strategy. This way, you can see whether the strategy is working. If your campaign starts on July 1, for example, make sure that you include data from June in this report so you can compare your fan-acquisition strategy in July with your fan-acquisition strategy in June.

The following list gives you a deeper look at the various sections of the Likes report:

  • Total Page Likes As of Today: Immediately below the date-selection tool is the Total Page Likes As of Today section, which shows you the running total of accumulated likes over the periods you selected. To the right, you can compare your average growth this period with your average growth in the previous period. You can see this benchmark data simply by clicking the Total Page Likes link below Benchmark.
  • Net Likes: What Changed: In addition to seeing fan growth, Facebook shows you how many people have unliked your Page, how many people have liked your Page from an ad, and the resulting net Likes. You can also benchmark Unlikes, Organic Likes (acquired without ads), and Paid Likes (acquired with ads). Often, you can discover your best fan-acquisition strategies by paying attention to the peaks in this graph for organic and paid Likes. These spikes indicate successful strategies and tactics you’ve already employed to acquire Facebook fans. Repeat these strategies as long as they continue to work.
  • Where Your Page Likes Came From: The last section of the Likes report, Where Your Page Likes Came From, shows you the sources of your new fans.

Reaching Fans with the Reach Report

Facebook defines reach as the number of people your post was displayed to. Facebook users see your Page posts in three ways:

  • Organic reach: When someone visits your Page or sees a post from your page in the News Feed, he’s reaching your Page organically.
  • Paid reach: When someone sees your updates because you paid for her to see it, you’re getting paid reach. Paid reach, of course, is generated with Facebook Ads and Boosted Posts.
  • Viral reach: When people like, comment, and share your Facebook Page updates, their friends see that activity in their News Feeds. This type of reach is called viral reach.

The Reach report within Facebook Insights shows you how many people you’ve reached with your Facebook marketing efforts.

To view the Reach report, click Insights and then click the Reach sub-tab. The Reach report shows the number of unique Facebook users who viewed your Page stories, Events related to your Page, and Ads promoting your Page or its posts.

As with the Likes report, you can adjust the date range at the top of the Reach report.

Again, reach means the number of individual people who saw your content. Four sections are available on the Reach tab:

Post Reach: This section shows you how many people saw your Page updates in News Feed, on your Page, or in a Facebook Ad. The graph shows two types of reach:

  • Organic: Shows the number of unique Facebook users who saw content related to your Page in News Feeds, in the ticker, or on your Facebook Page.
  • Paid: Shows the number of unique Facebook users who saw a Facebook Ad or Boosted Post for a Page Post.

You can also view how your current reach compares with your reach during the previous period, which is extremely valuable, because it serves as an important alert to optimize or adjust your marketing strategy.

Likes, Comments, and Shares: This section shows you the rate of comments, likes, and shares over the selected period. As in the Post Reach section, you can compare your current performance with performance in the previous period. Benchmarking comments and shares can help you discover ways to create more viral reach through comments and shares.

Hide, Report as Spam, and Unlikes: All Facebook users can give Facebook feedback about the content they see in their News Feeds. This section shows you the rate of people hiding, reporting, marketing as spam, and unliking your Page.

You can also benchmark (compare the current period with the previous period) Hides, Report as Spam, and Unlikes for your Page content.

Total Reach: This section is similar to the Post Reach section, in that it compares paid and organic reach. But Total Reach includes any activity on your Page, including posts, posts by other people, mentions, check-ins, and any posts you promote with Facebook Ads.

Monitoring Site Traffic with the Visits Report

The Visits report within Facebook Insights shows you how many Facebook users have visited your Page’s Timeline and tabs. It also shows you the number of posts on your Page and the number of mentions, as well as the top external referrers.

To view the Visits report, click the Visits tab within Facebook Insights.

As in the preceding reports, you can select a date range to analyze. Also, as in most Insights reports, you can compare current performance against performance in previous periods.

Below the date range are two sections:

  • Page and Tab Visits: This section shows the number of times each of your Page tabs was viewed each day during the period specified. You can also benchmark the performance of each tab, compared to the previous period. It’s important to understand that the Page Views option includes people who have viewed your Page more than once; the Unique Visitors option doesn’t. If John Smith visits your Facebook Page three times in one day, you’d have three Page views but only one visitor.
  • External Referrers: This section lists the top external websites (external to Facebook) that send visitors to your Facebook Page. You can compare websites’ performance with the previous period to see whether they’re sending more traffic or less traffic. Chances are that you’re already familiar with these websites. If not, explore the benefits of partnering with them in some way, such as guest blogging.

Evaluating Posts with the Posts Report

The Posts report shows you the ways that Facebook users have engaged with each posts, when your fans are online, and how each type of post (image, status update, and so on) performs.

To view the Posts report, click the Posts tab within Facebook Insights.

At the top of the Posts report are three tabs that contain additional data:

  • When Your Fans Are Online: This tab shows you how many Page fans are online for each day during the most recent week and for each hour of the day. You can view the hours for a specific day by mousing over that day of the week at the top of this tab. If you want to increase engagement with your fans, post your updates during the peak times shown on this tab.
  • Post Types: If you want to know how photos, videos, status updates, and links perform, you’ll love this tab. It shows you average reach and engagement for photos, status updates, videos, and links. Post types include link clicks, photo views, video plays, in addition to likes, comments, and shares.
  • Top Posts from Pages You Watch: This tab shows you the top-performing posts on the Pages you watch. You can add Pages to your watch list simply by clicking the Add Pages button. If you want an easy way to source great content for your Facebook Page, add Pages from similar businesses that you admire.

Scroll down in the Posts report, and you see the All Posts Published section, followed by a 90-day date range. This section contains a table that describes how Facebook users engaged with each of your Page updates published in the previous 90 days. You can sort the Reach and Engagement columns and select various data to be displayed in each column.

This report can help you understand what types of stories increase engagement. In other words, it shows you what your fans want to talk about, which is half the battle!

The columns in this report are as follows:

  • Published: The date that your post was published (Pacific Standard Time).
  • Post: The content of the post. Clicking any of the links in this column allows you to see detailed analytics for the post in a small pop-up window.
  • Type: The type of post published (status update, video, photo, or link).
  • Targeting: How each post was targeted (location and language).
  • Reach: The number of people who saw your post. You can break this statistic into paid/organic reach and fans/nonfans by choosing the desired option from the Reach drop-down menu.
  • Engagement: The ways Facebook users engaged with your content. You can view engagement in several ways including Post Clicks, Likes/Comments/Shares, Hide/Spam, and Engagement rate. Engagement rate is the percentage of people who commented on, liked, shared, or clicked a post. It’s essentially a score for the quality of your post — the higher the percentage, the higher the quality.
  • Boost: You can choose to Boost a post from this column. A megaphone icon indicates that a post hasn’t been promoted but can be.

You can view more details for each post by clicking the link for the post in the Post column. When you do so, you can see the number of Likes, comments, and shares for the post, and shares of the post.

By analyzing post-level data, you can understand what type of content your fans engage with most. You also begin to see what type of content gets the most comments, likes, and shares. In other words, the information in this report improves your ability to engage existing fans, attract new fans, and create more awareness of your business throughout Facebook.

Viewing Demographics with the People Report

The People reports contains demographic, location, and language information for Facebook users who like your Page, see your content, engage with your posts, and check in to your business.

To view demographic information, click one of the four tabs:

  • Your Fans: Demographic information about people who like your Page.
  • People Reached: Demographic information about people who see your Page updates.
  • People Engaged: Demographic information about people who like, comment, share, or click your updates.
  • Check-Ins: Demographic information about people who check in to your business on a mobile device or browser. The report shows check-in activity for Facebook Places (Local Place or Business). Unless you have a Facebook Place, this report is unavailable to you.

How To Export Insights Data

Facebook displays a limited amount of data in the native Facebook Insights tool. Additional data can be obtained by exporting Insights data into a spreadsheet application such as Microsoft Excel.

You can export either Page-level or post-level data from Page Insights simply by clicking the Export button in the top-right corner of any of your Insights tabs. After clicking Export a pop-up window appears. From the pop-up window, select Page-level data or post-level data, the date range you want to analyze, and the format for your export. You can view the report in Excel. Insights data before July 19, 2011, isn’t available.

The types of information you can get from exported Page-level data include

  • The number of people each day who saw your Page content
  • The number of people each day who engaged with your Page
  • The number of people each week who engaged with your Page
  • The number of people each day who liked your Page and are also friends of current fans
  • The number of times each day or each week that posts were seen in News Feed tickers

Some of the details exporting Facebook Insights data provides include the following:

The Likes report: Exporting this report provides information about the ways people are liking your Page:

  • Page Suggestion: People can like your page via an invite from an admin.
  • Timeline: People can like a Page from the Likes section of their Timeline or someone else’s Timeline.
  • Ads: People can click Like in an ad for your Page.
  • Registration: This shows the people you add as admins to your Page.
  • Mobile: People can like your page from mobile devices.
  • Wizard Suggestion: People can like your Page when first signing up for Facebook.
  • Profile Connect: People can like your Page on your Page itself or in a News Feed story.
  • External Connect: People can like your Page from an external site by using a Facebook Social Plugin (the Like Box).
  • Recommended Pages: People can like your Page when it’s recommended after liking similar Pages.
  • Favorites: This shows other Pages that have liked your Facebook Page.
  • API: People can like your Page via a third party, using Facebook’s API.
  • Page Browser: People can like your Page by using Facebook’s Pages browser.
  • Hovercard: People can like your Page from a hovercard in the News Feed.
  • Ticker: People can like your Page from a story in their News Feed ticker.
  • Like Story: People can like your Page from a story about a friend who liked your Page.

The Reach report: The Reach report’s post-level and Page-level exports include various slices of data based on time and granularity. You can see how many people liked your Page from the Like Box on your website, for example. There is much more information here than most marketers would ever need. Nonetheless, make time to familiarize yourself with this additional data, as it will only make you a smarter marketer!

How To Use Third-Party Analytics

Although Facebook Insights is an invaluable tool for measuring your Page activity, sometimes you want to have additional information at your disposal, such as the keywords users entered to find your Page or the average amount of time people stay on your site.

Facebook made its Page Insights data available to third-party solutions through its Open API (Application Programming Interface). Several companies have already integrated this data into their existing services. Leading analytics companies such as Webtrends and IBM Digital Analytics have begun to roll out new offerings with Facebook data alongside their existing website analytics. The following list includes several such companies:

  • Webtrends: You can use this detailed analytics package via self-installation or the Webtrends services team. This service is paid, and you must contact Webtrends for package pricing based on your needs. You can find more info on this product at http://webtrends.com/solutions/campaign-optimization/facebook-campaign.
  • Post Planner: In addition to various Facebook Page publishing features, this tool includes a simple yet powerful analytics module that allows you to sort updates by comment, like, and engagement rate. For more information, see www.postplanner.com.
  • Hootsuite: This social media management tool allows users to schedule posts on a variety of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on). This tool also includes a reporting module that allows you to select what Facebook Page Insights data you want to track. These reports are perfect for managers because the data is presented in a way that’s easy to understand. You can find more info about this tool at https://hootsuite.com.
  • AgoraPulse: This suite of Facebook Page management tools allows you to export an easy-to-read Microsoft PowerPoint presentation about your Page Insights. Find out more at www.agorapulse.com.

Keep in mind that these companies won’t be able to give you more data about your Facebook Page than what you already access through the Facebook Insights reports and the data export. What they will give you are different ways of presenting that data (graphs, charts, and so on), as well as additional resources for analyzing the data (consulting, educational webinars, and so on).

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