Understand Facebook Insights: The 5 Numbers to Know

May 17, 2016 • 8 min read

You’ve created a Facebook campaign. You’ve checked out the organic reach of your posts. Maybe you’ve eyeballed the number of shares. But if you don’t understand Facebook Insights, (what Facebook calls their analytics) you’ll never really know whether or not the time you’re spending on Facebook is generating a return for your business. You’ll never know which posts or campaigns to replicate and which to dump.

Yet, wading through all the data that Facebook generates to figure out which numbers matter for your business can be challenging, if not frustrating. If you export your data from the Insights page, you’re treated to an Excel file with six different sheets that can have over 80 columns of data each. Not exactly inviting.

It’s no surprise that Social Media Examiner found that, out of 3,720 mostly small businesses surveyed, only 42 percent are able to measure the ROI of their social media marketing efforts. Surely the small business owners who open shop looking forward to what the rest of us consider the nightmare of social analytics are few and far between.

Small businesses in particular need to understand Facebook Insights because Facebook is the platform most often used by small businesses to connect with customers, gain visibility, and promote their brands. Last year, Facebook claimed there were 40 million active small business pages on its platform. If only 42 percent of those businesses are measuring their ROI, that’s 16.8 million small business owners who are taking the time to market on Facebook and may not be getting enough—or as much as they could—out of it.

So, how do you determine if your Facebook endeavors are working or just eating away at your marketing budget—without facing all those Excel sheets?

The good news is that Facebook Insights does offer the information that is essential to deciding how to spend your time and money on the platform. The bad news is that the data you want tends to be mixed in with a lot of repetitive and unhelpful information. We’ll walk you through the relevant numbers and show you how to turn them into actionable marketing insight—in other words, how to understand Facebook Insights.

Understand Facebook Insights: Analytics to Know and Love

Gaining insight into how people react to your marketing campaign is crucial. Facebook Insights provides a breakdown of customer data that allows you to track your Facebook Page or a particular campaign’s performance. The analytical tool was revamped recently to include more behavioral and demographic data about your audience.

Facebook admin menu

You can access Insights from the menu below the search bar on your Facebook business page or the dropdown menu at the top right.

view facebook insights

The 5 Insights That Matter

insights menuOnce you’re on the Insights page, you’ll see a menu on the left. These are the categories Facebook breaks their data into.

To best understand Facebook Insights, here are the most important analytics for a small business owner:

1. Posts

Post analytics show when your fans are online, types of posts you’ve made (photo, link, video), and top posts from the pages you’re following. The first metric, “When  Your Fans Are Online,” tells you just that; this information should help you create a posting schedule most likely to increase your engagement.

The second metric, “Post Types,” shows which post types perform well on your page—status updates, images or just links. You’ll also see post reach, engagement, if the post was targeted to a specific audience, and whether or not it was promoted.

Like the first, the last metric is pretty self-explanatory, too: “Top Posts from Pages You Follow.” When you know what posts perform well for your competitors, you can see if there’s some aspect of those posts that you can replicate to increase your own visibility.

Facebook audience

Scroll down and you’ll see data for each individual post. Clicking on a post will pull up more detailed information, including any negative feedback the post received.

2. Reach Analytics

The Reach analytics show how you’re reaching people, who you’re reaching, and if your target audience is engaging with your posts. It also allows you to compare organic reach with paid reach, see what actions or inactivity contribute to your engagement, and if followers are hiding, unliking, or reporting your content as spam.

If you understand Facebook Insights Reach analytics, you’re able to determine what strategy works best for engagement, reach, and opt-outs. In addition, you can see the impact of post timing, paid ads, contests, and a lot of other tactics. Overall analysis gives you an opportunity to modify your approach so that you get a better response from your fans.

Facebook engagement

The Likes, Comments, and Shares graph shown above showcases post engagement. You can click on the valleys and peaks in your graph to see the targeting, impressions, and engagement for the content posted on those dates.

There’s another graph on this page that shows the total reach of your post, meaning it shows the number of users who saw the activity on your Page, including mentions, check-ins, posts,

total post reach

posts by other users, and Page like ads. It’s an overview of your Paid vs Organic mix. This graph can help you understand why peaks (or valleys) occur. This way, when a post does really well, you can replicate that strategy for similar results in the future.

3. People Analytics

This section gives you a breakdown of your fans’ demographics—gender, geographical location by city and country, language, and more. You can also see a breakdown of people who have seen your posts (reached) by country, city, and language. This data tells you whether or not you’re really reaching your target audience, or receiving traction from people outside your target zone.

Facebook audience demographics

The last thing you can see is a breakdown of audiences who engage with your content based on language, city, and country. If you’re not hitting the mark when it comes to engaging your target audience or you’re engaging the wrong audience (yes, there is such a thing), it might be time to revisit your ad targeting, posting strategy, and other marketing efforts to improve engagement.

4. Page Views

Scrolling down to the bottom of this screen will reveal a graph called “Top Sources,” which shows you where your Facebook traffic is coming from.

5. Local Analytics

Local analytics are naturally quite useful for small businesses that sell within their communities. These analytics aggregate trends and demographics related to nearby users to give you a picture of who those users are. Businesses can see the busiest times of the day or week on Facebook for their neighborhood, so you have an idea of when your target audience is likely to visit. Aggregate demographics of nearby people include gender, age, and distinguish between tourists and local residents.

local analytics

Additionally, local businesses that use location awareness ads can see the percentage of local people their ads reach. An important caveat about Local analytics is that the data comes only from people who have activated location services on their smartphones. Also, that data isn’t shown in absolute numbers; it’s shown in overall trends and percentages and is anonymized.

The One Facebook Insights Chart You Need

Ultimately, what you really need is a way to determine what’s working and what’s not on your Facebook page. If you’re only going to look at one thing, it should be a visualization of precisely that. Hubspot suggests using the data you can export from Facebook to create a couple of charts that show the total reach of your posts over time.

Here’s how to make it: From the Insights Overview page, click on Export to download your data into that unwieldy Excel spreadsheet. Make sure you’re looking at the “Key Metrics” sheet, and delete every column of data except the date and Daily Page Consumptions. To create a chart that will help you determine what you’re doing on your page that increases (or decreases) that number, highlight the date and Daily Page Consumption columns. Click on Charts in the menu bar. Hubspot recommends creating a stacked line chart. Presto! This is what’s happening on your page, and the easiest way to understand Facebook Insights. Clearly identify when the peaks and valleys are happening and compare that with your feed. Now you can see what you need to replicate—and what you need to avoid.

Getting More: Tools to Understand Facebook Insights

Facebook Page Insights will help you benchmark the performance of your Facebook Page. But if you want to dig deeper, the following tools can help you analyze your marketing strategy further.

  • AgoraPulse: This tool provides easy-to-understand insights about your page’s engagement and growth. Apart from monitoring your own Facebook page, you can add your competitors’ pages to see how you’re doing in comparison, in terms of interactions, audience size, page posts, admin posts, and engagement.
  • Simply Measured: Small businesses can use the free reports generated by Simply Measured to measure certain areas of their Facebook presence, though you will need to post an update about their service to get those reports. Once you do, you’ll have access to a Competitive Analysis report, a Facebook Insights report, a Facebook Fan Page report, and a Facebook Content Analysis report.
  • Sprout Social: This tool generates a fan page report on 90 days of data. The report includes page impressions, visitor demographics, post content engagement, likes, unlikes, and sharing statistics.
  • Cyfe: Small businesses can use Cyfe to create a dashboard based on preferred insights from their own Facebook page. It has over 50 Facebook widgets, and businesses can customize the data to display only the data that they find useful. It’s possible to see page metrics, views, likes, impressions, users by country, and more.

Know It’s Working

If you understand Facebook Insights, you have the chance to see the most important data about your Facebook page and revamp your Facebook marketing strategy accordingly. Finding the right data will help you ditch the “I think it’s working” feeling and allow you to make sound, data-driven decisions.


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