Learning how to measure Facebook marketing ROI
Marketing Social Media

What, How, and When to Measure Your Facebook Marketing

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Facebook will be a teenager in 2017; the big 1-3. This thirteenth birthday, however, won’t be characterized by awkward voice changes, slow dances at arm’s length, or smiles decorated by lime-green braces. That’s because in social media years, 13 is more like 130.

In that time, you’ve become adept at Facebook marketing. You’re a genius when it comes to crafting beautiful, catchy posts and pairing them with images and videos that perfectly capture your brand’s essence. You’ve built an audience and you can tell, through the quality of the discussions you have with your audience via the platform, that you’re doing a great job.

But your boss doesn’t have the same intuition for your audience that you do. And she’s asking for data to back up your social media marketing efforts.

Over the years, Facebook has navigated innovative technological advancements and experimented with various business models. This is good news for your Facebook efforts: unlike newer platforms like Snapchat, Facebook has developed robust reporting features over time in order to best service brands on its platform. Of course, the platform’s data is not without their flaws: as recently as this past Wednesday, the platform was reporting glitches in its performance metrics—though it is working to improve its systems and measurement-related partnerships in an effort to quell potential issues in the future.

As noted in the first article of this series on the Content Standard, there are two major brand basics that have persisted throughout Facebook’s history: the Facebook Page and Ad Campaigns. Reach, engagement, and conversion can be applied to both of these basics, but we’ll focus most specifically on Ad Campaigns in the below Performance section.

And with that, we kick off our third article in this series and address what your boss cares the most about: numbers.

1. Reach

What: Simply put, reach demonstrates how many Facebook users you’re reaching with your posts. An ever-important marketing metric, reach contributes to brand awareness and, ultimately, the further nurturing of an audience.

How: When it comes to your Page metrics, reach can be measured by simply navigating to the Insights tab at the top of your Page.

Facebook Insights Overview Screenshot

The Reach section allows you to investigate how many people saw a given post, broken down into organic and paid (or “boosted”) efforts. This section further shows which posts solicit different levels and types of engagement, but we’ll dive deeper into that in our Engagement section. The reason this is included under Reach on Facebook is because posts that have more engagement show up more often in News Feed based on Facebook’s algorithms. This, in turn, positively affects reach. Conversely, posts that are hidden, reported as Spam, or Unliked have a smaller chance of showing up in News Feed and negatively affect reach.

The Page Views section on the Insights Tab measures a more passive reach by speaking to online presence. By knowing who visits your page, from where, and on what device, you can better analyze the audience your Facebook presence is reaching. The Page Views section breaks your page views down by section (timeline, photos, information), age, gender, city and device. Page Views, though, additionally shows who your external referrers are via Top Sources. Top Sources indicates how people are finding your page outside of Facebook, which is often through search engines or other business pages.

When: While Facebook posts don’t do any disappearing acts the way Snapchat posts do, their lifespans are relatively short. A few years ago, a Wisemetrics study showed that a post on Facebook typically achieves 75 percent of its reach in the first two hours and 30 minutes of its posting. So, depending on where you are in the process of developing a strategy, this is an area of measurement that can be evaluated at different cadences. When first experimenting with a specific strategy, for example, you might want to monitor each individual post on a daily basis to analyze reach results.

You can optimize your posting schedule and reach potential through another tool on Facebook reporting: Posts. This section of your Insights tab allows you to see when your fans are online, which can ultimately serve to inform peak times to post. Use this tab when analyzing your reach and strategizing how you can improve upon it.

Use the Page Views section when analyzing the quality of content in sections people are often visiting. Top sources is a great resource to use when informing how to best optimize your Facebook page for search.

*In Ad Manager, reach is clearly broken out for each campaign. Impressions are also collected to help calculate potential views and CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions).

2. Engagement

What: Engagement is the next, and most informative, level of measurement to consider. While you may have reached a certain amount of people with your Page, a post, or an ad, it’s more important to analyze if you are soliciting a reaction. Or better yet: an action. Liking, sharing, and commenting are all types of engagement that indicate your marketing efforts on Facebook are resonating with your audience.

How: The Insights tab on your Page additionally has a section for Likes. Here, you can see how many people have Liked your page over the course of a week, month, or quarter. You can see your Total Page Likes since Page creation as well as Net Likes. Net Likes more accurately represents the current state of your Page Likes, as it shows the number of new likes minus the number of Unlikes. It’s important to note that the new People section displays a breakdown of Page Likes by gender, age, and location. Similar to the Reach graph, the Likes graphs can be broken down into how many Likes are organic (came from friends of followers) and how many are considered paid (generated within a certain time period of advertising boosts).

In the Posts section, Facebook provides insight into the average reach and engagement on types of posts (photos, offers, links, statuses, etc.) to help examine which speak the most strongly to your audience.

For a deeper dive into reactions, comments, and shares on specific posts, let’s revisit the Reach section. This section is preferable for post-engagement analysis in that it breaks out reactions from comments from shares, which are notably different levels of engagement. For example: a Like is undoubtedly a good indicator of engagement, but a user that chooses to share that post to their personal network has taken the level of engagement a step further. Commenting and forming an actual written response to a post (perhaps tagging a specific friend in a post’s comment section) is additionally a level of engagement that can be considered a higher value than liking.

In terms of understanding engagement on a page level, the new Actions on Page section can be consulted to understand how many users (by age, gender, location, and device) clicked on page specifics like “get directions”, your phone number, your website, or action buttons.

Videos and messages are being prioritized with the new Page Insights roll out as well. Video metrics, which were also recently under scrutiny in the news, can now be found in a Video section, which allows you to see how many users are viewing your videos for longer than three seconds and how many are viewing for longer than 10 seconds. With the growth of Messenger for Business, a Messages section now tracks how many conversations you’ve had with your users.

When: Something to constantly monitor, engagement should heavily inform your Facebook marketing strategy. Like other areas of measurement, engagement should naturally be most consistently tracked when developing or assessing how to better tailor your posts for your audience.

If you’re just starting out, the Posts subsection allows you to watch other pages. This is helpful in terms of providing a benchmark. Seeing what type of engagement levels similar brands are working with and which types of posts are yielding the most success can only serve to better inform your own strategy.

*Engagement within Ad Campaigns can also be tracked in Ad Manager and is broken down by engagement, video engagement, app engagement, and carousel engagement.

3. Performance of Ad Campaigns

What: Ad Campaigns are a basic feature of Facebook that brands can take advantage of. When building an Ad Campaign in the Ad Manager tool, audience, schedule, destination, and cost are chosen in relation to an objective relating either to awareness, consideration, or conversion. Because ad building is such an important component of marketing on Facebook, the platform gives its due diligence to tracking how these campaigns perform.

How: Reporting on ad performance can be found in Ads Manager, so that managing, tracking, and measuring can all happen in a central place. The performance tab is the default view, and it shows delivery status, results, reach, cost (the average you paid for each action associated with your objective), and total amount spent on any given campaign. Depending on your objectives, the Ad Manager reporting interface allows you to dive deeper into your marketing funnel by tracking monetary value or any offline conversions from your efforts.

When: Keeping a diligent eye on your ad performance enables you to spot trends over time. These results can help you adjust features of your campaign like images, budget, or targeted audience and make edits to any existing campaigns in Ads Manager accordingly.

It’s Only a Teenage Wasteland

Reach, engagement, and ad performance metrics shouldn’t make you cry, or raise your eye (necessary The Who reference), though, seeing that they’re easily obtainable thanks to Facebook’s veteran social media status. Measuring success on the platform is straightforward and intuitive, allowing you to craft a Facebook marketing strategy that works for your content and brand.

Stay tuned for the final installation of this series: overlooked features of your Facebook strategy.

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Stephanie Ferrell is a Content Coordinator at Skyword and graduated from Harvard University in May 2015. During her time at Harvard, she studied History and Government and was the captain of the Varsity Women's Swim and Dive Team. Prior to working at Skyword, she fulfilled her love for story-telling and start-ups at PIVOT, a company incubated at the Harvard Innovation Lab. 

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