Ah, Facebook, the one social media platform that offers the Holy Grail of marketing opportunities, while confounding you by being the most illogical, fickle, and overly complex platform to understand. Sure, there are a bucket load of Facebook Insights to help you figure it all out, but what does it all mean?
With Facebook engagement rates plummeting to an all-time low, and the platform consistently pushing users towards paying to get their content seen, or at presenting it in video format, it’s harder than ever to get tangible results from Facebook, let alone achieve a good return on your investment.
And it’s a big investment.
There’s no getting around it:[Tweet “Effectively using Facebook to market your business requires one of two things: time or money.”]
Whichever you pick you’re also going to need a lot of patience, and an effective way of measuring your success. For that, you need to figure out Facebook Insights.
The good news is, if you can crack Facebook’s advanced metrics you’ll gain an unparalleled level of…well, insight, into your tribe, audience demographics, and campaign tracking.
The bad news is that cracking that nut can easily give you a headache.
To save you the migraine, and to answer a slew of questions about Facebook Insights that people ask me all the time, I’ve created an easy guide to advanced metrics…
The Key Metrics You Should Be Tracking
To keep things as simple as possible, I’ve split it into three sections:
- General Facebook Insights
- Facebook Ad Insights
- Facebook Video Insights
We’ll start with General Facebook Insights…
What Is Facebook Engagement And Why Do I Care?
Engagement measures the number of times someone took action on your posts. That could mean clicking a link, sharing your post, making a reaction, or leaving a comment.[Tweet “If you only have the energy to care about one Facebook metric, engagement is the one to obsess over.”]
Your engagement tells you whether or not your audience likes your content.
Literally; there’s a button they push that says ‘Like’!
There was no more direct form of approval from your tribe than getting the thumbs up on Facebook…until they added the option for people to ❤ your stuff!
Beyond telling you exactly how your audience feels about the content you’re creating, engagement has a direct and positive impact on the number of people who get to see your content.
It’s really simple: the higher your engagement, the more people will see your content.
The more people seeing it, the more opportunities there are for people to engage with it, pushing your reach higher still.[Tweet “Facebook Engagement is the mother of all digital snowballs.”]
So while the one Facebook metric that is arguably more important than anything else is engagement it’s also the most problematic thing to achieve. And it’s only getting harder. There was a time when all you had to do was post a couple of times a day and your audience naturally engaged with your content.
Those days are long, long gone.
If you have terrible engagement (and believe me, everyone does at the moment!), the problem isn’t that your audience doesn’t like your content.
The problem is that they aren’t seeing it.
If your tribe don’t see your Facebook posts, they can’t engage with them.
Facebook have become incredibly selective about the content they show to people for two reasons:
- The amount of stuff on Facebook has reached insane levels. If they showed everything to everyone, nobody would be able to use the platform – it would be utterly overwhelming.
- Facebook began as a completely free enterprise but has gradually shifted to a more profit-driven model.
These days, if you want people to see your content, you have to either:
- Advertise it, or…
- Prove to Facebook that it’s so valuable they should be showing it to people over and above the massive amount of other content being published.
To demonstrate that you have great content, you have to have a high level of engagement on that content. Your engagement measures how many times people have directly interacted with your post by taking an action (liking it, commenting on it, clicking a link, or sharing it).
To find your engagement, go to your business page, click ‘Insights’ at the top, and select ‘Posts’:
Essential Reading: How To Boost Your Engagement And Organic Reach On Facebook
What Is Facebook Reach And Why Is It So Important?
Another intricate part of the Engagement snowball is Reach. Your reach on Facebook is largely driven by engagement (organic reach is pretty much entirely driven by engagement, while paid reach is also driven by advertising).[Tweet “Facebook Reach is the metric that tells you how many people are actually seeing your stuff.”]
At its simplest, the higher your reach, the better. That being said there are a couple of caveats:
- If you have high reach and low engagement your audience aren’t connecting with your content. They see it, they just don’t care!
- Low reach isn’t an indication of bad content or too-few followers; Facebook’s algorithms have changed drastically in recent years and everybody is experiencing astonishingly low reach as a result; both engagement and reach are currently at an all-time low!
To find your reach, go back to Insights and click the Reach tab:
While it’s true that organic reach on Facebook has massively decreased in recent years, it’s still super-important that you measure it. It’s also not a completely lost cause. There are still ways to boost your organic reach and engagement on Facebook, despite having to work against the algorithms!
What Are Facebook Impressions And How Do I Measure Them?
One metric that’s often overlooked despite being really useful is Impressions. While your Facebook Reach tells you how many people have seen your content, your Impressions indicate how many times your content was viewed.
What’s the difference?[Tweet “Really good content deserves a second viewing.”]
Say you stumble across a hilarious gif in your news feed…are you seriously only going to watch it once?
What if there’s an awesome video, but you get ten minutes in and realise you’re late picking the kids up. If it’s truly spectacular, you’ll come back to it another time!
And how often do you start a conversation with, “I saw this great thing on Facebook….” and immediately reach for your phone to show everyone the post?
One person can view a piece of content multiple times, either by looking at it themselves, or showing it to other people. But your Reach doesn’t understand this. Your reach only counts the users looking at it, not the number of times that user views it.
So someone could show your post to every single person they know, and while a couple of hundred extra people had seen it, your reach would still only be 1 for that person. (Okay, so it’s not likely to be in the hundreds, but you get the point…)
Simply compare your reach to your impressions to see if content is being viewed multiple times.
You can check your Facebook Insights by going to the posts tab and selecting ‘impressions’ from the dropdown menu:
If you’re looking to create ‘viral’ content, impressions are the metric to keep an eye on. Most people assume that reach is the go-to for this, and to some extent that’s right, but consider that a single person can see the same post multiple times organically.
So it’s not just the guy who keeps coming back to the same post and showing it to his friends that doesn’t appear in your reach, it’s also the girl who sees the same post pop up in her news feed multiple times over the course of a few days, because numerous friends share it.
The post is being viewed repeatedly for a prolonged period, but your reach doesn’t reflect this because it only counts users, not the number of times viewed over time.
And here’s the really important thing about impressions:[Tweet “People often need to see the same piece of content multiple times before they take action on it.”]
Just as it often takes people seeing a piece of marketing seven times or more before they act on it, and multiple ‘touches’ (points of contact) between you and a reader before they convert, content often requires multiple views before someone finally hits like, share, or clicks the link.
Why Facebook Page Likes And Follows Aren’t Just Vanity Metrics
As much as engagement is the go-to for Facebook metrics, Page Likes are often the one insight most often dismissed by modern marketers. When Facebook first started, all you needed for a wildly successful Facebook page was a massive number of likes, and they were super-easy to get.
One coach I know started her Facebook page waaaay back when Facebook was brand spanking new. She had 30K+ followers in a couple of months, her engagement was sky high, her conversions were insane, and she did it all without any paid advertising.[Tweet “When people talk about the ‘good old days’ of Facebook, they’re not kidding around.”]
Since the algorithms changed and Facebook started driving people towards using paid advertising and video content as much as possible, the correlation between the number of Likes on your page, and your engagement, reach, and conversions has plummeted.
That same coach now really struggles with her engagement and can’t wrap her head around how tough it is for her clients to build a large online following.
As a result, Facebook Likes are now seen as a ‘vanity’ metric. It boosts your ego to know you’ve got a lot of followers, but it doesn’t actually matter to your marketing nearly as much as your engagement and reach.
This is true.
BUT there is still value in tracking the number of Likes you have on your page. And by extension, knowing how many Followers you have (people who Liked your page, then opted in to receiving updates from you).
Think of people who like your page as readers on your blog, while followers are readers who have subscribed to your newsletter.
You can easily find these metrics using the ‘Likes’ tab on your Insights:
This section is packed with info on how many people are liking (and unliking!) your page on a day-to-day basis. You can track your net number of likes over time, and compare benchmarks. The really clever part though, is that if you scroll down a little further you will find info on exactly where people liked your page:
This is basically a cheat sheet to tell you what is actively attracting more people to like your page. It’s true that engagement is more important than likes, because you need people to take action on your content, not just follow you. But it’s also true that the people most likely to see and therefore take action on your content are people who like your page.
Your audience on Facebook should naturally grow over time. If you find yourself plateauing at the same number of Likes for weeks or even months on end you have one of two problems (both of which are dire in terms of growth, engagement and conversions):
- People are Unliking your page at roughly the same rate they are Liking it, cancelling each other out.
- No new people are Liking your page.
In an ideal world you will retain as many of your current followers as possible while steadily adding new people to the ranks of those who like you.
In short, if the number of people liking and following you isn’t steadily growing, you have a serious issue that has nothing to do with your ego.
Your audience isn’t growing.[Tweet “Without growth your social media marketing will stall.”]
Facebook Advertising Insights: What They Mean And How To Use Them
When it comes to advertising metrics, Facebook is almost too helpful. They offer a somewhat baffling litany of more than 100 metrics for assessing your advertising.
It’s great that so much information is available, but it can be a little overwhelming. The majority of the ways you can measure your ads isn’t going to be of use or interest to you unless (like me!) you’re completely addicted to data.
That said, there are some really crucial ones that you absolutely should be measuring, and need to fully understand in order to get the best ROI possible on your adverts.
To find the metrics for your adverts go to Facebook Insights and select the Promotions tab:
For a more comprehensive view you can also go to Business Manager or Ads Manager on your Facebook profile’s main menu. Here’s what you’re looking for:
Everything You Need To Know About Facebook CTR
Your click-through rate, or CTR, is the percentage of people that both see and click on your advert. It’s more important than the impressions or reach of your advert, because it tells you how many people ended up on your landing page. The general average CTR on Facebook is roughly 0.9%, however it’s a little more complicated than that!
When you have a low CTR it means that the people seeing your advert aren’t taking any action on it. In terms of ROI it’s one of the best ways of measuring how successful a campaign is, because getting people onto your landing page is absolutely essential.
You can’t convert them from the ad itself, they have to move from the ad, to the page, and then buy. This requires at least two actions: clicking the advert, and hitting the buy button.
It can take more than that (for example, someone might choose not to buy, but sign up to your list instead, and buy at a later stage), but it will never take less.
Not in the context of an advertising campaign at least.
So your CTR is extremely useful, and very important from the perspective on conversions, but it’s also vital to the relevance score of your advert.
Just like Facebook cherry picks the content they show people based on its engagement rate, they penalise adverts with a low CTR.
The lower your CTR the more you will pay per click!
Essential Reading: How To Assess The Success Of Your Facebook Advertising Campaign
How To Understand Facebook CPC And CPM
There are different options for how you’re charged for your ads on Facebook, the two most popular being:
- Cost per thousand impressions (CPM)
- Cost per click (CPC)
There’s a tendency to focus on the total spend when you’re running an ad campaign. Rather, use one of these metrics to assess how well your ads are performing; they give you a better idea as they measure efficiency as well as costs.[Tweet “The total spend on a campaign depends on budget. CPC and CPM tell you how much that budget achieves.”]
The breakdown for each looks relatively similar, so make sure you’re seeing the right one:
Assuming you’re generating quality traffic a $600 spend that yields 2,000 clicks is bringing you a far better return than a $200 spend yielding 400 clicks, despite the fact you’ve spent three times as much. And this is not because you’ve generated more clicks in the first example, but because the amount you have spent to achieve each individual click is far less in the first instance than the second:
$600 ÷ 2,000 = $0.30
$200 ÷ 400 = $0.50
The former ad campaign costs you more overall but is far more efficient.
You’re literally getting more bang for your buck.
The difference between CPM and CPC is that the former charges you for every thousand impressions made by your ad, regardless of how many times it is clicked. CPC, on the other hand, only charges you when someone actually clicks your ad.
If your ad campaign is good enough to consistently drive a high level of engagement, you’ll usually get more impressions with CPM. But it’s only of benefit if your ad is performing well. If it’s not, you’re paying for people to look at it and do nothing.
I always recommend running a CPC campaign initially, to test the effectiveness of your copy, images, calls to action etc. Split test it to find the perfect combination of everything and fine tune it until it’s giving you the lowest CPC possible. Then, switch to CPM.
How To Tell If Your Facebook Ads Are Paying Off With One Metric: CPA
I mentioned a moment ago that your click through rate was one of the BIG metrics to measure in advertising. This is the other, and if you’re only going to measure one, and nothing else, this is the one to pick: your cost per action (CPA).
CPA tells you in an easily quantifiable manner exactly how much your ads are paying off.
You’re not looking at the amount you’re paying for clicks (CPC) or impressions (CPM), and it’s not about how many people click in total (CTR).
Instead, CPA tells you exactly how much money it costs you for a specific action.
For example, if you’re running a campaign designed to drive email signups, get people to sign up for a call or service, or even buy a product, you can measure how much you spend on advertising per signup or sale.[Tweet “CPA is, hands down, the best way to measure the ROI you’re getting on Facebook advertising.”]
Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Ad Frequency In Facebook Insights
One last thing to check out in Facebook Insights where ads are concerned is your ad frequency. This is one that even seasoned advertisers overlook but it can be super-helpful.
Your ad frequency tells you how many times a particular advert is seen.
Remember what I was saying about people needing to see your content multiple times, or have multiple points of contact with your brand before they take any action? This is as true for adverts as any other type of content, but where ads are concerned it’s really easy to vary the specific form your content takes when it’s viewed.
In other words, people can see the same ad 10 times, but it has a slightly different headline, a different image, and the call to action has been tweaked.
You’ll quickly burnout your audience if they see exactly the same advert popping up on their news feed repeatedly.
They need to see it a few times before they click it, but you need them to be only subconsciously aware of the fact it’s the 10th time they’ve seen it!
Studies have shown that the more frequently the same ad is viewed the fewer people click through, and the higher the CPC becomes.
Your ad frequency will help you prevent this. If people are seeing your ad too much – say, over twice in a given week – you need to do one of two things:
- Add extra versions of your ad to the campaign to ensure what they’re seeing is varied
- Tweak the settings on the ad to decrease your ad frequency
You’re far better off doing former!
Recommended Reading: Online Advertising: Facebook Vs. Adwords Vs Twitter Vs Pinterest
Essential Metrics To Track In Facebook Video Insights
The final element of Facebook Insights that you need to be paying attention to are the Video Insights.
If you’re not using video on Facebook start now! It’s a great way to quickly increase impressions and organic reach.[Tweet “Facebook Live is the only thing that can still achieve really good organic engagement and reach.“]
The more you use video the more aware you need to be of how well it’s performing. Like any element of social media marketing, various things will affect the return you get on the investment you make in creating and publishing videos on Facebook:
- Video length
- Whether they’re published natively on Facebook (uploaded directly to the site rather than shared via a link)
- Time of publication
- Day of publication
- Whether or not there is any movement in the first few seconds of the video (yes, really! Movement in the opening seconds will attract the attention of feed scrollers and make them stop to watch!)
With the exception of the latter, there’s a metric to help you figure out all of this. If you’re aware of which videos have movement at the start, you can figure out for yourself if they’re the ones performing best. Here are the top two video metrics to look out for:
- Video Retention – tells you how long your audience watches a video. Are they playing to the end, or giving up after 10 seconds?
- Video Engagement – measures Likes, comments, shares, and clicks to play (how many times people clicked in order to start playing your video, as opposed to how many time it automatically played without any action on their part).
Getting the most out of the Facebook marketing requires wrapping your head firmly around Facebook Insights and figuring out which metrics work best for you, and what exactly constitutes a reasonable benchmark for you, your business, your niche, and your audience. If you need a hand figuring it all out, I’m happy to help! Book a discovery call now and let’s see exactly how well your Facebook page is performing…