Lost in all the excitement over timelines and tickers have been 2 small but significant announcements from Facebook in recent weeks.
The first relates to a complete overhaul of Facebook Insights, the tool that page owners use to judge the success of their page.
For starters, three new metrics have joined the familiar count of overall ‘Likes’ at the top of the Insights page. These are:
Friends of Fans – a count of all the friends on Facebook of your current fans, taking into account any mutual friends that those fans might have. It’s a good way for brands to understand what the viral reach of their Facebook campaign could be, whether that be an ad campaign like Sponsored Stories or a viral content campaign.
People Talking About This – this is the number of people who have engaged with a page over the past week. In this case, engagement is defined as Facebook users liking the page, RSVP’ing to an event, commenting on or sharing a post, tagging the page in an update or in a photo or posting to the page’s wall.
Weekly Total Reach – this is the number of people who have seen any page content or ads pointing to the page over the past 7 days.
All of this information is useful at a macro level but it’s the next level of detail down that makes the new Facebook Insights really interesting – the performance of individual page posts.
For the most recent 500 posts to their pages, marketers will be able to see:
- The Reach of that post – the number of people that saw it.
- The Engagement level – the number of people that clicked on that post, including those that viewed videos or pictures.
- The volume of people that Talked About the post – the number of Facebook users who actively engaged with the post, including liking, commenting, sharing, tagging or RSVP’ing.
- The ‘Virality’ of the post – a new metric which will soon enter marketers’ lexicons, ‘Virality’ is merely an expression of the number of people who have ‘Talked About’ a post as a percentage of the ‘Reach’ of that post.
These new metrics mean that not only will marketers fully understand what proportion of their fan base is seeing their posts, they’ll also understand how much impact those posts are having, and what sort of impact.
By reviewing and analyzing this data, marketers will be understand better what sort of content their fans like to consume and what sort of content their fans like to interact with and pass on to their friends.
In addition, a new ‘arms race’ will begin amongst rival brands as the ‘People Talking About’ metric will also be viewable by any Facebook user who visits a fan page, published below the number of page ‘Likes’. Rival brands will be vying with each other not only for popularity but for talkability.
At present, the new Insights is available by clicking a link at the top of the existing Insights page.
The second significant development is the introduction of a new ad format – the Premium Ad Unit. In a similar way to promoted tweets on Twitter, brands can turn a page post – be that a message or a video – into an ad.
Echoing the highly successful ‘Sponsored Stories’ format, if a Facebook user’s friend has ‘liked’ the brand advertising, the ad will expand to incorporate that information in addition to the post information.
At present, the new format is only available via Facebook’s direct sales team but we expect it to be popular with advertisers because it combines the advertiser’s message with a social element. It also a larger format ad format which will display on the right hand side of a user’s homepage with no other ads present – hence attracting more attention from users.
When you consider the major changes announced at the f8 conference alongside these recently announced innovations, there’s certainly much for Facebook marketers to consider in the coming weeks.
But for us, the key learning is that brands shouldn’t just focus on building a following amongst their target audiences, they need to have strategies to engage those users, to get conversations going about their brands, in order to recruit new fans and new customers, be that via engaging posts or social advertising.
And as Facebook wants an increasingly engaged user base to boost ad inventory and to sell premium ad formats, it’s doing all in its power to ensure brands have the tools to play their part.