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:

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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:

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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…

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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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Forcing Facebook Page Engagement: An Experiment

With Facebook Page reach ever on the decline, I wanted to see if I could boost engagement without paying Facebook.

As an experiment, I changed all of the URLs in my weekly newsletter to redirect through my Facebook Page. The point of the experiment wasn’t to annoy my readers, of course, but to see if doing so changed the stats of the Facebook Page posts in any meaningful way. The premise was simple: get all of the clicks and views from the newsletter flowing through my Facebook Page to boost impressions and subsequent traffic-based metrics.

Let’s take a look at the data.

Average Facebook Page engagement numbers prior to the experiment

  • The average post impressions was 432 overall.
  • Of the posts that were subsequently featured in the newsletter, they averaged 439 views.
  • Of the posts that were not featured (the control group), they averaged 409 views.

So far, so good!

Microsoft Excel

Average Facebook Page engagement numbers after the experiment

  • For the exact same posts the week after being featured (forced through my newsletter), the overall average post impressions was 444, an increase on average of 11 more impressions the week after.
  • Of the posts that were featured in the newsletter, they averaged 451 impressions, an increase of 12.
  • Of the posts that were not featured in the newsletter, they averaged 419 impressions, an increase of 10.

The difference between number of impressions week over week for posts featured vs. not featured? 3.00% for featured posts, and 3.03% for non-featured posts. As a popular TV show would say, this hypothesis is busted. Making everyone jump through an additional hoop of clicking through a Facebook post did nothing for the numbers on Facebook and annoyed my readers. We can officially call this experiment a failure for my audience.

Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? It means that if you’re thinking about it, you need to run the test for yourself. Your audience may behave differently than mine, but be prepared for potentially lackluster results.


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