What real-time insights means for Facebook, and
Facebook's billion-dollar (or $100 billion, according its IPO
filings) proposition is that engagement on the massively popular
social network drives business results. The best way to get
engagement -- whether likes, comment or shares -- is for a brand to
take actions that make its page more appealing to users. And the
way to get there, Mr. Baser said, is through a constantly updated
tally of how many people that content is reaching, how many people
are interacting with it, and what form that interaction takes.
"Changes in data can drive immediate action," Mr. Baser said.
"For example, you might want to change a post that 's getting a lot
of distribution but not engagement. A post with a lot of engagement
is maybe one to pin to the top of the page. With real-time, the
underlying meaning of metrics are changed. You see what happens,
and then you take actions. The data itself becomes a form of
Facebook announced this real-time capability on Feb. 29 at Facebook
Marketing Conference, amid mounting complaints over updating delays
on Insights, sometimes in excess of four days. The issue even got
its own website, Why Is Facebook
Insights Not Working
Tweaking your posts on the fly as audiences are seeing them
isn't possible with these kinds of delays, so when Mr. Baser calls
this "a game-changer" it doesn't feel like a stretch.
Asked whether there's a threat of information overload and
possibly sacrificing the long-view with all the immediate feedback,
Mr. Baser said that the performance of posts is dependent on
in-the-moment attention. He added that all historical information
will still be available.
"This is about adding functionality, not removing it," he
While real-time data is vital, having a long-view is important
for benchmarking purposes as we'll see below.
How to think about consumer activity on
As it's grown more sophisticated as a marketing channel, Facebook
has introduced a number of metrics that , aside from the ubiquitous
and self-explanatory "like," can be slightly confusing. But
understanding the difference between concepts such as People
Talking About This and Engaged Users is vital to grasping how
performance on Facebook impacts business results.
People Talking About This counts activities that generate a
story in a timeline. Examples include: liking, commenting or
sharing, tagging, check-ins or rsvp'ing to an event.
On the other hand, Engaged Users, a bigger count than PTAT,
includes all the nonstory-generating actions people can take. For
example, clicking on a link, watching a video or clicking on a
photo don't generate stories but are important actions nonetheless.
This is stuff that , mercifully, doesn't end up in your timeline
but is still valuable to brands.
PTAT is crucial because it's a reflection of how well your
content is engaging the Facebook community. It's both an engagement
and a word-of -mouth metric. But Engaged Users can be key, too.
"For certain business objectives, Engaged Users may be a high
priority," said Mr. Baser, offering the hypothetical example of the
entertainment marketer trying to get people to watch a movie
A recent hot-button issue has been the relationship between PTAT
and likes Ad Age recently reported on research showing that only
about 1% of people who like the most popular brand pages
actually talk about the page. This has prompted a lot of is
-the-glass-half-empty-or-half-full analyses. For some, that 1% is
pathetically small; for others, it's quite large when you consider
the fan bases of the biggest brands.
Facebook, unsurprisingly, comes out in the latter camp. "When
you talk about PTAT," said Mr. Baser, "you're talking about an
explicit action to share content about your page with a friend,
which is a meaningful thing to do. 1 to 3% is not all that low at
all compared to click-through rate on ads and it's at a fairly
large scale. You may think it might look pretty small, but they're
Mr. Baser said there is no universal guideline for what the
like-PTAT ratio should be. It will vary by page, industry, and a
number of other factors. It's up to brands to benchmark their
performance and see how it changes over time in relationship to
company activity. For instance, it's probably best not to compare
PTAT activity around a product launch or a big marketing campaign
to a relative lull.
Looking for more data?
You're in luck. Insights has an export feature that will cough up
more than 1,000 additional columns of data that can't, for obvious
reasons, be supported by the user interface. This trove includes
data on a number of video views over the past week or number of
clicks on photos the past month. Facebook helps its larger clients
understand the data, but it still hasn't done a product guide on
how to use all this information.
"Partly that 's because the export is so large at this time; we
need to simplify it a little bit," said Mr. Baser.
So, what's next?
Part of the functionality Facebook is planning to add to Insights
is granular information on how paid campaigns on Facebook are
affecting pages. "We're working on the ability to attribute actions
taken on the page back to the ad campaign" he said. "We'll be able
to let brands see how many stories about your page came through the
This feature is now in limited, internal testing. Mr. Baser
wouldn't say when it would be rolled out.
Facebook is giving you more information, faster. Ideally, it
will allow you to be more responsive to your audience. This goes
hand-in-hand with other recent moves by the social network,
including the brand page redesign also announced at the Facebook
Marketing Conference. That change, which enables big cover photos
and the pinning of posts, has been adopted by 8 million pages in
the week after the conference, according to a Facebook
To show the impact, she gave some stats on Ford's Mustang page
since it switched. Its total daily reach increased 17%, its Daily
Page Engaged Users increased 30% and its daily People Talking About
This shot up by 53%.