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Measure success on Facebook

To assess whether a Facebook page is successful and the target group is active, the number of fans alone is not enough. This only tells you how many people have clicked on "Like" over time and thus potentially also receive the status updates of the page. Even the successes in Facebook fundraising are sometimes not enough.

However, you unfortunately do not reach all "fans" with every message. Fans can simply hide your posts in their home page feed, or they will no longer receive them from Facebook without being asked. Facebook has its own algorithm for this, which ensures that only “relevant” content reaches Facebook users.

So what metrics are available to measure the success of a page? And can these numbers also be generated for other organizations? A brief introduction to five Facebook metrics:

1. "Like" information or subscriptions

Probably still the most used is the number of people who like a page, the "fans". This value is something like the overall rating of the page, but does not say anything about the current quality of the page. New fans and subscriptions are added and added up, negative growth only occurs very rarely.

The number of subscribers is more relevant, as they at least potentially get to see new posts. Why Facebook still gives both metrics here is a mystery to me. From a range perspective, however, I would always pay attention to the number of subscriptions.

The total number of subscriptions says little, but is not unimportant. It shows the potential that you can activate, for example, in large campaigns. Likewise, the total number can also show which goals you have not achieved. If you have a large fan base but very few interactions occur, you are wasting your potential. This is particularly noticeable in the case of sites that have reached their fans through competitions or individual campaigns, but have not succeeded in retaining them.

It is more exciting to take a look at the growth of a page. With high growth, a page succeeds in attracting new people with its content, which is a good sign of quality. However, growth can also be achieved through advertising, fan buying or competitions.

You can find the number of fans on each page (as the only metric also on external pages) in the left column or mobile under the header image. Subscriptions are also in the column on the desktop. In the Facebook statistics you can find the growth under "Subscribers" or "Like".

2. Range

If your site has a lot of fans, ideally you also have a high reach for your content. However, this is not automatically the case. Facebook is not able to display all content to all Facebook users because the attention of the individual people is insufficient. So Facebook chooses which content is relevant for whom. With many contributions, this can mean that a single-digit percentage range of your own fans is reached.

In the Facebook statistics you will therefore find the “Total reach” tab in the “Reach” tab, which tells you how many people your content has been delivered to. In addition to this general overview, the reach of each individual post on the page is also calculated for "Posts". Based on this reach, you can find out which content has spread on Facebook, which media are well received or at which times posts are widely spread.

The range analysis can be found in the Facebook statistics under "Range". Administrators can also see the number of people reached under each post on a page.

3. Activity

Just because many people see the posts on the site, it is not possible to say how many people have read these posts or found them interesting. To do this, you can measure different forms of activity.

Interactions

For each post, Facebook lists how many interactions there were over the entire period. Facebook differentiates between reactions and clicks.

Reactions include likes, comments, and shared content. This is where you really interact with the post and these reactions are visible to everyone.

Clicks are photo views, link clicks and “other clicks”. Other clicks are clicks outside the content, e.g. on "Show more". While link clicks are often particularly relevant, other clicks only show that the post has actually been consumed.

Depending on the goals, it is important not to be impressed by the summarized figures, but to take a closer look at the statistics. 1000 likes testify to a different reaction than 1000 comments.

The number of interactions can be seen under each post and in the Facebook statistics under "Posts". If you want more details, you can do an Excel export in the statistics (top right). Here you get the number of "28 Days Page Engaged Users". Advantage of this accumulated Number is that people on Facebook are only counted once, even after interacting with many different posts.

Activity rate

Facebook does not put the number of people involved and those who talk about your own page in relation to the number of fans on a page. If you want to compare the activity rates of different sites, you need your own measure. The following simple formula is recommended here:

Please note that this activity rate is also not suitable for a universal comparison. Small pages tend to have a higher activity rate than large pages, and newer pages tend to have more activity than older pages. In addition, it is worthwhile to use at least the interactions per 28 days from the Excel export, since shorter periods of time quickly lead to poor comparisons.

4. Clicks

Whoever posts links to his or her other pages not only wants to have "like" feedback, but usually wants the link to be clicked and the linked content read. There are three ways to find out how many people followed a link.

Analysis on the landing page

If you set a link on your own page, you can see in your analysis program (e.g. Matomo or Google Analytics) how many people came to a certain page via Facebook. All visitors who come to the page from other posts on Facebook are also counted here.

Analysis in Facebook statistics

Facebook also indicates how often a link was clicked per post. Due to the different counting methods, larger deviations can sometimes occur here.

Analysis using URL shorteners

If you prefer to have independent statistics for external links, you can convert the link beforehand using a URL shortener such as bit.ly. These services were originally intended to convert long links into short links (especially important on Twitter). Since many services also include a small evaluation, they are also suitable for a click analysis. On the information page of the link you will then get an evaluation of how often the link was clicked at what time and from which source.

5. Conversions

The final measure remains the key figure of conversions, which is particularly important for fundraisers. How many people have been persuaded to make a donation, become a member or give their address via Facebook? Facebook cannot provide sufficient numbers for this.

On Facebook

If you use forms that are only integrated on Facebook, the analysis is easy. Every conversion on Facebook can be attributed to the network.

On your own side

If the conversion takes place on your own homepage, you can give a tracking code with every outgoing link and then look in your analysis program to see which events were triggered by the people coming from Facebook.

Often the first contact takes place via Facebook, but the conversion takes place via the classic homepage without you being able to see whether the person has already been informed via Facebook. Since Facebook does not provide a list of all fans of a page, you cannot compare here either. With a lot of effort (and data protection problems) you could note where the person came from every new website visit. But this is also prevented by deleting the cookie. The conversion measurement therefore always remains at an unreported number.

Conclusion

There is no general answer to which measures are the most important. This depends a lot on the strategy you have for your site. This strategy also includes the factors by which you measure your success. If the site is purely an online fundraising site, how much revenue the site generates is certainly of importance. If, on the other hand, the site is to retain members or even map existing structures, interaction is particularly important.

Which metrics do you use for reporting within your organization?

// If you work in a non-profit organization and need advice, training, workshops or lectures on the subject of social media, please contact me. This post was updated in December 2020 and is originally from February 2012. //

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