Timeframes, analytics, and objectives

One of the most misused parts of marketing analytics is the timeframe. Whether it’s daily/weekly/monthly views in Google Analytics or People Talking About This in Facebook or the metric of your choice, we tend as marketers to use the timeframe (no surprise, we’re marketers) that makes things look the best, or at least look meaningful. Most of the time, this is unintentional and not malicious. We look for patterns, trends, and information that is meaningful. Sometimes it’s just what we’re given by the tools we use.

Here’s why timeframes matter in analytics. The timeframe tells you what results you are capable of generating using any given marketing method. For example, let’s say your focus is on audience and awareness building, core functions of things like advertising and public relations. Monthly or even quarterly metrics timeframes are perfectly okay to work with because you’re looking more at the cumulative effect of all of the communications with your prospective audiences. You don’t necessarily need to be top of mind 24×7, just enough that you maintain share of mind.

However, if your focus is on something like direct response, you might want to work in a weekly or daily timeframe. Direct response marketing and lead generation typically have much shorter timeframes, timeframes in which you must meet certain numbers. You might, for example, need to generate a certain number of leads before the end of the month to meet a quota. Working in weekly or daily timeframes in your metrics will tell you how likely you are to achieve your goals.

Here’s an example using Facebook’s People Talking About This. By default, Facebook reports PTAT as a weekly timeframe metric. In your Page’s insights, you can also get daily and 28-day PTAT:


If you’re in charge of growing audience and growing awareness, looking at the monthly PTAT vs. Total Likes is a reasonable thing to do. What chunk of your audience did you reach in the last 28 days?

If you’re in charge of lead generation, looking at the daily PTAT vs. Total Likes is important, because it will help guide your expectations about how many people today will see your offer in a very short period of time.

When you mix the two is when disaster can strike. If you’re a direct response marketer and you see the monthly reach numbers, you might expect that up to 100 people could respond to your offer on any given day, when the reality is that at best, 20 would be the maximum number of people in a given day. Conversely, if you’re a PR professional, you might be distraught at the idea that 3 out of 1,300 people are seeing your work today, when the reality is that your content is being seen by a hundred in the month. Today’s post might be invisible to an audience member, but tomorrow’s might be quite prominent.

Know the timeframes that your marketing methods operate in, and measure accordingly!

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The simplest Facebook metric to remember

Quick, what Facebook metrics actually matter? Likes? Comments? Shares? The answer is… all of the above, and yet none of the above. What actually matters is engagement, which is a composite number of likes, comments, shares, re-shares, etc. Facebook sums all of this up in a number in your Page Insights called People Talking About This. Here’s what the official text says:

“Daily: The number of people sharing stories about your page. These stories include liking your Page, posting to your Page’s timeline, liking, commenting on or sharing one of your Page posts, answering a question you posted, responding to one of your events, mentioning your Page, tagging your Page in a photo or checking in at your location. (Unique Users)”

Facebook’s algorithms pay close attention to these behaviors, these activities. If you’re a Page manager, you’ll find this in the Insights download:


Download your spreadsheet of Page metrics and open it up in the spreadsheet software of your choice. Look for two columns, Daily People Talking About This (PTAT) and Lifetime Likes:


Think of these two columns as the number of people you did reach and the number of people you could have reached. Divide Daily PTAT by Lifetime Likes and you get a sense of how much engagement you’re actually getting on a day to day basis…


Take a look at those numbers. On my best day, my Facebook page is getting 1.47% engagement. Now you might say, well, that’s because maybe I just suck at Facebook. I did a bit of digging, though, and looked at a well-respected non-profit: 0.14% engagement on day to day engagement vs. total potential audience. Major consumer brand with big audience and a beloved product? 0.95% engagement. Super-hot consumer startup with a product that’s on fire and getting major coverage? 1.65% engagement.

Is it any wonder that brands simply have resorted to getting out the credit card and paying to play?

If Facebook isn’t delivering results for your brand any more, if your numbers look like these, you have two basic choices: you can either reduce the resources allocated to it, or you can pay to play. Either way, what you’re doing right now probably isn’t working as well as you’d like. Run this simple engagement math on the Facebook Pages you manage and see how your day to day engagement is really doing.

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Three simple charts explain Facebook and WhatsApp

A lot of people seem mystified about Facebook’s $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp. For some folks, it’s about breaking free of an America-centric view of the Internet, as WhatsApp is larger than Twitter or LinkedIn by about 100 million members. For others, it’s not understanding why Facebook would spend that much. Here are three simple charts that should explain the logic of the deal from Facebook’s side.

First, let’s look at Facebook’s growth by region, in monthly active users.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Facebook has tapped out the US/Canada and even the EU to a degree. When we convert this to growth rates in percentage change, we get:


The declines shouldn’t fool you – Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are Facebook’s fastest growing regions, at double the US/Canada and the EU. That’s part one of the puzzle. Facebook needs to continue its growth in its strongest regions. Here’s part two.


Facebook’s largest, fastest growing regions aren’t driving revenue the way the US, Canada, and the EU are. There’s a 3.5x gap between the US and the growth regions. If Facebook could fix its revenue problem in those regions, it could add another billion dollars or more of quarterly revenue. That’s why WhatsApp makes a lot of sense. It already charges users $1 per year. It’s got revenue that is diversified, that isn’t advertising-based. That makes it super appealing for Facebook, which is incredibly reliant on advertising dollars. A diversified revenue source in the fastest growing regions has the deal make total sense.

The logic from WhatsApp’s side shouldn’t need a lot of explaining.


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