Insights for Facebook: Optimizing Your Business Success

Facebook insights

Insights for Facebook

So, what are Insights for Facebook also called Facebook Page Insights?

facebook insights

Insights for Facebook are similar to Google Analytics for your website — it provides insights about your Facebook page (not profiles or groups) and how visitors engage with the page so you can improve performance. According to the Facebook team, they’re focused on creating analytics that are people focused, easy to understand, and provide actionable insights. Just looking at the number of Fans really doesn’t give you this information. In fact, we call the size of your social community, fans, followers, etc, a vanity metric since it represents potential but doesn’t really address the harder question of reach. That’s especially true now with Facebook and other social platforms using an algorithm that doesn’t even ensure your community sees your posts.

Instead, the team created metrics that measure what organizations need to know if they want to optimize performance on Facebook (and Instagram).  Since optimizing your business success relies on creating value for your visitors, Facebook created a new metric it calls “people talking about this”. Of course, over time, this metric (which combines page likes, posts, user-created content related to your page, and engagement) became unmanageable so Facebook split up the metric into its component parts, especially engagement, which is not only important as a means to reach new prospective customers but helps bring more organic traffic from search engines to your website by contributing to SEO rank.


Engagement comes when a user likes a post, shares it, or writes a comment on the post. This engagement shows up on the user’s news feed according to the Facebook algorithm, which allows the user’s followers to see your content. The higher your engagement, the more potential reach you get, as you can see in the graphic below.

roi of social media

Since a user’s social graph (the networked connections between a user and her followers) contains other users sharing certain characteristics. For instance, your social graph likely contains friends and family, folks in your neighborhood, connections from work and school, and other users you met along your travels. That means a significant percentage of the users in your social graph share at least one characteristic with you such as age, socioeconomic group, education level, and one or more values. This similarity suggests that your social graph is a good prospect for the businesses you engage with. Thus, as a Facebook Business Page, you’re only successful if your posts show up in the news feed for your fans so you can reach more of your target market.

The algorithm

Few fans EVER go back to your page — so they don’t see anything you post there. The only way Fans see your posts is when you show up in their newsfeed. And, to show up in their newsfeed, you have to engage your fans through sharing, liking, and commenting. These types of engagement allow your post through the Facebook algorithm that screens a user’s newsfeed to ensure only posts likely to be interesting show-up. Otherwise, users would have to wade through screen after screen of spam before finding anything interesting.  And, they’d likely stop using Facebook.

Did you ever notice that some posts from friends and brands you follow don’t show up in your news feed? That’s because Facebook doesn’t want your news feed clogged with stuff you won’t find interesting. The company’s goal is to suck you in for as much time as possible to keep you scrolling through content, so it wants to show you stuff you will find interesting. It does this through an algorithm that uses factors about your own scrolling behavior, your internet connection, the time of day, what content you normally engage with, and much more to find the “best” content to keep you on the platform. Otherwise, you get bored and go somewhere else, like TikTok. Facebook also wants to make money, so they prioritize brand advertising over organic brand messages or even posts from your friends. In addition, a new Facebook feature is adding content you might find interesting to keep you on the platform longer.

Facebook uses an algorithm so that only about 12% of the posts from your friends and brands you like show up in your news feed (now simply called Feed). Some types of content show up even less frequently. But, the more engagement a post gets, the more likely it is to show up in the Feed. Engagement is the magic elixir for success, then, not the number of Fans following your page. 

More recent changes to the algorithm allow users more control over their Feeds by allowing them to hide posts from any user for 30 days. Thus, if you share content that users don’t like or overshare, you will see this number creep up in your reports so you know to scale back the posts contributing to users’ hiding your content.

The more users who engage with a brand, the more likely their posts are to show up in the newsfeeds of their fans. Fans then have the opportunity to like, share or comment on the item, which, of course, now means the message might show up in all their friends’ newsfeeds.

Gaining engagement

When people like, comment, or share your posts, they’re telling Facebook the post has value and Facebook then decides more people should see this post and ensures it shows up in a higher percentage of your Fan’s news feeds.

Not only does engagement ensure your posts appear in the Feed of more fans, your message spreads to their friends. In a case cited in their presentation, Facebook found a 20X amplification of the message when people were talking about the post. With 25,000 people engaging with the post, they achieved 500,000 impressions of their message. Amplification is even greater when Fans share your message, as it travels to friends of friends.

The insights for Facebook feature tools to assess both engagement and reach so you can more easily optimize the content you share on the platform.

What do insights for Facebook look like?


Facebook insights
Image courtesy of Yoast

In the report, you get both numeric and graphic depictions of your important metrics — total likes, engagement, and total reach (which is a function of friends of friends). Insights for Facebook also gives you metrics for each post uploaded to the site, although I didn’t show that part of the report in this image.

Metrics from Facebook Insights

Total Likes: This number really doesn’t have much meaning except that it shows your potential — the greater number of fans, the greater the potential reach for your message. But, unless you’re able to engage your fans, this number is meaningless. That’s because you only reach the Friends of Friends (which you’ll notice is a HUGE number) if you engage your fans.

How to use Insights for Facebook?

Insights for Facebook should guide post creation, not just give insights to evaluate things you already posted. Posts that create a lot of engagement create value for your Facebook Business Page and you should create more like them. Posts that don’t get much engagement, shouldn’t be replicated. The same goes for posts that lead users to hide additional posts from your brand. Easy Peezy.

Facebook pointed out that only about 12% of our friends, subscribers, and Fans will see each post. That makes it hard for businesses using Facebook hoping to amplify their online message and grow their business. But, there is a solution that doesn’t involve spending huge amounts on Facebook advertising — creating engagement.

But, it’s not just a simple matter of creating engagement

You have to understand HOW to create engagement. And, the easiest way to do that is to create sharable social media content, especially video. Also, you must avoid adding content that spreads disinformation (which may also make it impossible for you to use Facebook advertising), clickbait, or content that challenges the Facebook Community Standards guideline.

So, now that you understand a little about how Facebook Insights demonstrate what’s going on with users, let’s take a look at how you use Facebook Insights.

In your own Facebook Page Insights, below the graph, you’ll see Facebook lists recent posts. In columns across from the posts, we see how users respond to the post in terms of engagement with users and reach. Then, Facebook calculates some estimate of the virality of the message — much like measures of eyeballs seeing a print or broadcast ad also called reach in traditional advertising.

You’ll notice, some messages do better than others in terms of engagement and reach. Obviously, you want to understand what makes these messages more effective than other messages.  Here are some metrics you might look for to figure this out:

  • Maybe it’s the time of day the post went up — because Facebook Feeds scroll endlessly, and earlier posts are quickly replaced by later posts. The larger a user’s social graph, the more connections they have and the more these connections post, the faster your newsfeed scrolls. Posting when your audience is reading their Feed means you gain more eyeballs.
  • Maybe, it is the topic. Some topics likely resonate with your audience better than others. Check to see if you posted on a trending topic in posts that received more exposure, for instance.
  • Studies show Facebook users respond better to images than text and better to video than images, but that’s not necessarily true for your network.

The point is: to spend some time getting to know your network and monitor them in case they change.

What Else Can You Learn From Facebook Insights?

One of the things I like to track is conversion from Facebook. Facebook Insights also tells you how many people saw each post, which also helps you optimize your Facebook strategy by creating more posts that resonate with your network.

But, I like to track the percentage of the audience who saw my post to conversion — whether that’s visiting the website, buying the brand, or requesting more information. While you can’t DIRECTLY connect conversion with your Facebook posts, you can get a good idea, especially if you set up special pages for Facebook responses (on your website pages, including landing pages, you can also look at Google Analytics to see where traffic is coming from and follow Facebook traffic through your website with unique tags).

Value of using Insights to plan campaigns

Let’s look at an example from the presentation on Wednesday.

A video uploaded to a Facebook business page shows up 370,000 times in the news feed. 130,000 people view the video (a little over 35%, which is very good). Of that number 13,000 shared the video post (10%). And the shares ultimately reached 638,000 folks — an amplification of almost 2X as many people as viewed the video on the Facebook business page with an average of 49 views for each time the social media content was shared.

See the value of creating sharable social media content. But, the value doesn’t stop there.

Not only do you get a 2X lift, but you’ve also de-commercialized the message because it now comes through friends rather than the brand. De-commercialization makes the message more believable and increases the likelihood someone will share the message.

So, now let’s look at the 638,000 people who viewed the shared message. If only 10% share the video, which is the same as the original share, that’s 63,000 shares.  Again amplifying by 49 views for each share — your social media content now reached OVER 3 MILLION PEOPLE.  And, the message doesn’t die there — it keeps getting shared and each share amplifies the message.

What makes social media content sharable?

In a word — VALUE.

When viewers find your content valuable — they share it (or engage with it in other ways that increase its appearance on news feeds).

So, what social media content creates value for your Fans? 

That answer is a little trickier because it depends on who your Fans are, who you are, and fit with your brand.

  • Providing coupons, exclusive content, or specials through your Facebook business page provides value to most visitors, although JC Penney found you can overdo the discounting and hurt your brand.
  • Telling stories is a great type of social media content that has wings that speed it through social networks.  Look at the Dove story of real women.
  • Recognizing the efforts of your fans.  Engagement is a two-way conversation, so make fans feel special when they comment, like, or share your message.  This builds a community where everyone feels they have a stake in your success and wants to help you.
  • But, probably the best way to create sharable social media content is to encourage user-generated content (although remember the admonishment from Facebook against creating clickbait on the platform). Hence, you must use other platforms, including your website, to ask fans to post pictures using your brand. Have fans create a video about how much they like your brand. Look at the lift Pepsi got a few years ago when they dedicated the money they would have spent on Super Bowl ads to charity. The beauty of the program was they let fans suggest worthy projects and vote on where the money would go.


As I’ve said many times on this blog, social media (like Marketing itself) is becoming more analytical and more metrics-driven. This is just one example of how analytics helps optimize your strategy. Otherwise, you’re likely stumbling around hoping for success, rather than seeing it show up on your Income Statement.

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