By Nate Riggs published January 14, 2011

5 Ways to Measure Facebook Fan Engagement

As a CMI reader, your business is probably considering building out a  Facebook fan page.

Although Forrester Research predicts 2011 will be the year when marketers will begin to “think outside the Facebox,” C-suite business leaders and content marketers alike can’t deny the attractiveness of establishing a presence inside the social behemoth that is now an online home to more than a half-billion people.

The reasons for building out your company’s Facebook page will depend on your unique business objectives. However, I believe a more universal standard can be found in terms of measuring the success of your efforts on Facebook.

This post outlines five ways to interpret the free data provided by Facebook Insights. We’ll also explain how to establish an engagement dashboard that displays increases or decreases in activity against established baselines.

What tool do we use to compile the data?  You may be surprised to learn that in a lot of cases a simple and cost-effective Google or Excel spreadsheet built with the right basic formulas will do the trick.

1.  Week-over-week percentage of change

For Incept’s Facebook Page (a client), we’ve found that using Insights data to track the percentage of change has provided a good lens into the results that specific types of content generate.

Because of how quickly real-time conversations occur, we found that month-over-month analysis created challenges to adjust the content strategy quickly when fan feedback indicated that change was needed.  Tracking Insights data as a percentage of week-over-week change, however, gives our content creators the agility to sustain long-term growth in all areas.

Measure-Facebook-Fan-Base-Growth

2.  Percentage of fan base growth or decline

As the saying goes, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one  hears it, did it really make a sound?”  Unfortunately, this is a situation that content marketers often find themselves in.

The most creative and community-relevant content will not be heard if there are not enough people in your target audience who “like” or follow your fan page. Today, Facebook Insights provides the following data:

  • New likes
  • Lifetime likes

By simply tracking the percentage of new likes against lifetime likes, it becomes much easier to determine your fan base’s average rate of increase or decrease over time.  You can also track the growth of your fan base building efforts during the course of your campaign by measuring the number of fans at the start of your efforts compared to the most recent weekly number of fans.

3.  Percentage of active fans against percentage of hidden fans

Moving back to the trees in the forest analogy, adding fans to your Facebook page who simply never return, or in the worst case, hide your page activity from their wall, will not help you reach your objectives. For this reason, it’s important to consider the baseline percentage approach in this metric as well.

Facebook-fan-base-measurement

To develop your own tracking dashboard, simply look at the following comparisons:

  • Percentage of increase or decrease of active fans against the previous week
  • Percentage of increase or decrease of hidden fans against the previous week
  • The number of active fans against the number of total fans, and
  • The numberof hidden fans against the number of total fans.

By establishing these baselines, you can begin to track the average percentage of activity versus hidden content among your fan base.  Ideally, you will want to maintain a higher percentage of fans who are participating on your page over those fans who choose to hide your page content.

4.  Fan base geo-location

More companies are targeting their Facebook page efforts locally or even regionally.  However, for content marketers focused on recruiting new talent or attracting retail shoppers, building a base of fans who do not live near their business will not yield a positive return for the time and work invested.

facebook-fan-base-measurement

Facebook Insights provides a breakdown of the raw number of fans added based on the top 10 countries and cities they come from and the language they speak. These numbers can be positioned as weekly percentage increases or decreases as well.  This provides your content marketing team with actionable data to target your content to specific areas of importance.

5. Likes, comments and wall posts scorecards

Another approach worth testing is the amount of time it takes a fan to produce one of the various forms of activity on your Facebook fan page. By assigning a numeric value where the lowest number is applied to the activity that takes the least time, you can develop a scorecard total that will give you an apples-to-apples comparison.

Here are some examples:

  • Likes on wall posts  (least amount of time committed by a fan) = 1 point
  • Comments on wall posts (moderate amount of time committed by a fan) = 3 points
  • Fan posts on your wall (greatest amount of time committed by a fan) = 5 points

Every week, you can count the total number of occurrences of each content type and tabulate the total score.  This enables  you to track the increases or decreases of the scores over time.

Your homework

As a short homework assignment, I challenge you to develop your own Facebook engagement spreadsheet and  fill it with your data. Spend the rest of January and February plugging in your weekly numbers from Insights and answer these questions:

  1. Is the activity on your page increasing parallel to the growth of your fan base?
  2. Are you maintaining more page activity than content hides on a consistent basis?
  3. Where is the strongest concentration of your fan base geographically,  and is it where it should be?

Author: Nate Riggs

Nate Riggs is one of the top strategists in the Midwest specializing in content marketing for multi-unit restaurant chains.  Over the past decade, he's helped brands that include Bob Evans, Donatos Pizza, Wendy’s, Claddagh Irish Pubs and numerous others adopt new processes, tools and the habits that help them reach audiences, increase guest counts and comparable sales. Nate also produces The Social Restaurant Podcast, the industry's most popular weekly talk show for restaurant marketers. You can follow him on Twitter @nateriggs.

Other posts by Nate Riggs

  • http://twitter.com/gregjordan Greg Jordan

    A suggestion that I can put to immediate use. I will suggest this to a couple of my clients. Thanks!

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Glad you can use this, Greg and thanks for the comment. :) It will take a few weeks of tracking to notice trends, but they will being to pop out.

      One thing I forgot to mention in the post was related to trends. in the first 6 months at Incept, we began to notice huge spikes in page activity the weeks following live company events like “employee of the month” meetings. The spikes were sometimes upwards of 150%.

      What’s interesting is that while the activity did die down the next week, we always kept around an additional 20% of the newly engaged fan base. The lesson we learned is that fan base engagement is very well supported by creating IRL experiences at regular intervals. Just additional food for thought…

  • http://twitter.com/KatieMcCaskey Katie McCaskey

    Excellent post, Nate!

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Thank you Katie. I appreciate that :)

  • Anonymous

    This is an excellent article on Facebook engagement metrics. Marketers that are seriously committed to using Facebook should heed these suggestions. Casual Facebook marketers will probably not.

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      I think you are spot on with that – and that creates an opportunity for competitive advantage ;-)

  • sandeemiller

    The article is great. Have a facebook page just because others have one isn’t a good enough reason. This really gave ways to determine if its working for you. Thanks!

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Glad you found it helpful :)

  • http://twitter.com/Annephilia anne rajkumari

    this is a great post. As a newbie social media marketer, I was wondering if one creates a new Facebook page for a small or medium-sized company less known to people, how would you suggest launching the Facebook page for people to start liking it. Off the top of my head, I am thinking employees and friends would be a great start and also, including a link to facebook page on the company website would be a good start. Is there a way to make it more visible?

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      I think you hit the head on the nail. Focus on the people who work there first. In reality, those are the folks who have the strongest affinity to the brand rooted in their experience as employees. Target them with a series of internal emails asking them to like a comment on the page.

      It’s important that prior to doing that, you have some type of engaging content that really matters to them already on the page. Contests are great, but think in terms of things that are entertaining to that audience. At Incept, we’ve had great success with trivia and polls related to the culture and business.

      You could also try using in office signage that reminds people to pay some attention to the page. Location is key. Drinking fountains, the back of bathroom stall doors, somewhere in the lunch line – all these places are idle time for you employees (i.e. when they have nothing better to do than wait.)

      Does that help?

  • http://twitter.com/copywritemattrs Belinda Weaver

    Thanks for the post Nat. I have to admit I’ve become a bit slack on my Facebook Insights so this article was a well timed reminder to not only check them, but to dig a little deeper as well.
    Your comment about IRL experiences was real food for thought as I have a relatively small group of consistently active fans and I’d like to broaden that. Something to start 2011 with I think!

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Glad it motivated you to begin to take some more action. The offline events will work. Remember, the key driver of social media and the content that is distributed there lies in our inherent desire to build connections with other humans… :)

  • http://www.SocialRabbit.net Social Rabbit

    Great article Nate,

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      I appreciate that, and I’m glad it was helpful for you… :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Lawyer/1069977087 David Lawyer

    This type of information is so critically important to the future of Facebook and the future of business interaction with the social network giant. Well done.

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Thank you, sir.

  • Michael

    Very good stuff here. I didn’t think you could actually determine hidden fans. Please correct me if I am wrong. Can’t someone still be considered an active user if they Like your page and have a Facebook account yet still not interact with your page? They may not even read the page posts that are on their wall or they may – you have no way of knowing that correct? Anyway really nice article.

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Michael,

      FB insights does provide numbers on the amount of hidden fans, under interactions and titled as unsubscribes. This used to be listed as hidden fans in the older set of Insights and we never changed out term. It’s an important metric in terms of gaging whether the content you published is well received in terms of type and frequency. If to many fans hide you or unsubscribe, it’s a good indicator that something in your content is off.

      As for active users, that score seems to be based in activity on the page, not by whether they initially like you page. Users can “Like” a wall post or comment and that is considered one of the activity metrics. By that time, the user has already Liked the page in order to participate.

      Does that help?

      • Kevinw

        I’m in the middle of your homework suggestion and have a question regarding active users. Does that number come from “weekly active users” on the page overview or from the individual “interactions” such as “like” or “comment”?

        Thanks for your help.

        • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

          For the chart above, it’s coming from weekly active users…

          • Kevinw

            Thanks sir!

  • Eric

     Ummm…your bio states you are a “lucky husband who enjoys music, photography and distance racing.”  Are we to understand that because your wife LETS YOU enjoy music, photography and distance racing that that is what makes you LUCKY?

    Just asking because this TV season there will be a lot of shows with controlling women and wimpy husbands.  Remember, Everybody Loves Raymond…except his wife.

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Hahaha… Glad you got a lot out of the post, Eric…

  • http://www.marmaladecopy.co.uk/ Sarah

    Great post, Nate, definitely one to be bookmarked for later!

  • Andy

    Any spreadsheet to download ?

  • Andy

    Nice content, however, where’s the spreadsheet ? I was searching for it.