With Advertising Week beginning in a matter of hours, Facebook today is unveiling an overhaul of its Page Insights product as well as a new ad unit called "Premium Ad Product." And whether your brand's Facebook posts inspire consumer engagement is about to become transparent for essentially all to see.
Among a slew of new Facebook Insights metrics sure to interest brand managers, "People Talking About This" is perhaps the most intriguing. It's a raw number - not a percentage - that adds up various engagement types that a page post generates for a brand. The stat will include number of likes, number of Facebook user comments involving the brand, RVSPs, "@mentions" of a brand, Facebook Places check-ins, and photo-tags.
What's more, it will publicly appear on all brand pages, just underneath the "Likes" count. David Baser, Facebook product manager for Page Insights, said marketers and consumers will begin looking at the "People Talking About This" the way they do the "Likes" tally.
He expects brands to keep an eye on each other with the engagement metric, perhaps even competitively. "Over time, marketers and consumers will have expectations (on what that number should look like for brands)," the product manager said. “A brand’s business objective will help define what the appropriate level is for their page.”
Baser and his colleague Ami Vora, Facebook product marketing manager, last week briefed ClickZ News about updates to the Page Insights product. To understand the changes, let's start with what page metrics have been available to marketers: New Likes, Lifetime Likes, Monthly Active Users, Post Views, and Post Feedback.
In addition to "People Talking About This" metric, here is a sample of what is now available with Page Insights:
Friends of Fans: Another raw stat, it calculates the number of Facebook likers/fans times how many friends they have, excluding overlap. For instance, if your brand has 472,000 likers/fans, it may have in the neighborhood of 145 million Friends of Fans. "We want to focus on reach and how they achieved it," Baser explained.
Weekly total reach: This data-point accounts for the reach of Facebook posts, ads pointing to the page, user–generated stories, etc. when it comes to how a brand lives in the social site's ecosystem.
Analytics for up to 500 recent brand posts: Marketers can now see what kind of engagement they are creating with a fairly granular breakdown. There's an engagement metric that shows how many unique clicks a post gets. A "Talking About This" stat that measures the number of unique likes, comments, shares, questions answered, and event RVSPs. There's a "Virality" metric, which quantifies with a percentage how effective a post performed when it comes to word-of-mouth. It takes the number of people "talking about this" and divides it by the actual number of people who viewed the post. Lastly, marketers can sort the types of posts they want to see metrics for.
Vora explained that the new numbers should help brands optimize their Facebook messaging strategy. "They can see how well the posts are performing," she said. "They can see what works vs. what doesn't."
Baser said his team is far from done tweaking and improving the depth of Page Insights. "We are going to have cooler features for marketers in the not so distant future."
Facebook consulted with Context Optional, Webtrends, and Wildfire to improve Page Insights. Those companies and their competitors will be able to customize metrics for their clients on the Page Insights API.
"We're moving away from the era of 'likes,'" said Craig Stoe, Context Optional VP of product. "We're now measuring what people discuss on Facebook and a brand's total reach."
The enhanced Page Insights product will be rolled out globally in the coming weeks. For now, it's only available in English.
New Premium Ads Dive Deeper Into Social Context
Today, Facebook is also debuting its "Premium Ad Product" (see image) that's designed to promote page posts. Content from a brand's page sits at the top of the unit. The ads should intrigue marketers who have had success with the Sponsored Stories units, which launched in January.
Here's how they work: A brand posts a message or a video to its Facebook page. Then it decides to promote that particular post in the form of this ad. If one of a Facebook user's friends is already a fan/liker of that advertiser's page, the ad unit automatically expands to show that the user's friend has fanned/liked that brand.
Unlike Sponsored Stories, which can be purchased on Facebook's self-service system, the new ads must be obtained through the social site's direct sales team.
Facebook has offered ads with social context since 2008, when it debuted what were called "Engagement Ads." Part of the social site's premium ads portfolio, the ads allowed viewers to see social context - such as their friends "liking" a page or RVSPing an event - in the ad.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.