Is your business regularly posting to Facebook with no clear idea of whether doing so is worth the time and energy invested? If so, you’re not alone.

Most small-business owners now understand the importance of promoting their brand on Facebook, seeing as how more than 1.7 billion people across the world use the popular social media site to connect with friends and family.

But while the medium encompasses at least 60 million business pages, many marketers still haven’t taken the next step to determine how that messaging is performing, or to gauge whether their efforts are leading to any tangible results.

2016 report by Social Media Examiner found 67 percent of marketers planned to increase their Facebook marketing activities, and 55 percent named Facebook as their most important platform. However, a good percentage were unclear about where that’s getting them: 40 percent didn’t know whether their Facebook traffic had increased over the past year, and 35 percent didn’t know for sure if their Facebook marketing was effective. Further, 90 percent wished to learn more about the most effective social tactics and the best ways to engage their audience with social media.

That’s where Facebook’s Page Insights comes in. The measurement tool, provided for free by Facebook, automatically tracks user interaction on your company Facebook page(s), allowing you to monitor active users so you can better understand the performance of each page. The user-friendly system helps you gauge the effectiveness of your overall social marketing strategy. Here, we’ll cover directions for accessing some of the basic data available through that program.

Start by accessing your business Web page and clicking “Insights” at the top. (Note that you can export your data by clicking “Overview” at the left-hand side of the Insights page, then “Export data” on the top right.) Next, decide which info you’d like to gather. Here’s a list of some of the most-used metrics and where to find them:

  • Numbers and demographic data about those who like your page: Click on “People” on the left, then click on “Your fans” to determine the percentage of people who like your page by age, gender, country, city and language. You can select longer periods of time to see your metrics via the chart at the top of the page, or click on a metric in the benchmark box on the right to compare data over time. If you’re investing in boosted posts, this data can be crucial in identifying your most engaged audiences.
  • When your fans are online (days and times): Click on “Posts,” then “When your fans are online.” You may wish to tweak the timing of your posts accordingly, bearing in mind different time zones. Be aware, however, that posting at your fans’ optimal online times may hurt your ability to get into their newsfeed.
  • Who’s viewing your page: Click on “Page views” to see who’s checking out your page by age, gender, city and country, what devices they’re using, and which section they’re accessing (posts, reviews, your “about” section, etc.)
  • Where viewers are clicking, and who’s clicking: To see how many people clicked your page’s call-to-action button, phone number, address or website, click on “Actions on page.” The system will display clickers by age, gender, country, city and device.
  • Reach: Click on “Reach” to gauge the number of people to whom your post was served, delineated by paid and organic reach. For more detailed info, click or drag on the “Post reach,” “Positive engagement” or “Negative engagement” charts for pop-ups revealing which posts were seen during a given time period.
  • At what point viewers opted to “like” your page: Click “Likes,” then scroll down to “Where your page likes happened” to fine-tune what likely prompted viewers to take that step.
  • Number of viewers “un-liking” your page: Click “Likes,” then set start and end dates for the interval you’d like to examine. Scroll down to “Net likes” for a summary of your unlikes, organic likes and paid likes (identities are not indicated).
  • How viewers reacted to a particular post: Click on “Posts” and find the one in question to determine the number of people it reached, clicks it received, reactions, comments, shares and (when applicable) video views and related viewer behavior. You may also click “Reach” and enter start and end dates to gauge reactions to your videos over a given period of time.
  • Categories of posts your audience prefers: Click on “Posts” followed by “Post types” to determine whether your viewers tend to prefer photos, links or status updates. Most marketers opt for a mix, but having that knowledge could strongly influence ratios in the future.
  • Details about video views: For overall video stats, including number of views, number of viewings longer than 30 seconds, and top videos viewed, click on “Publishing tools” at the top of your page, then click “Videos.” For details on individual videos, find the one in question under “Video library” to see the number of viewers reached, minutes viewed, shares, cross-posts, total engagement and (with 100 viewers or more) audience demographics.
  • Number of unique visitors: This number indicates those who searched for you independently of clicking on a Facebook ad. Click on “Reach” for a comparison, and also take a look at metrics pointing to your organic versus paid and viral searches, helping you determine whether fans are referring your page to others or sharing images with friends. A low percentage of unique visitors may indicate the category and description under which your page is filed needs an update or clarification as to your business function, or perhaps a new page web address that includes an actual description of what you do (e.g.,
  • How your page has performed over time: Click on “Export insight data” and select “Page level data” in the MS Excel format option. Set the dates you’d like to examine. Scroll to the bottom to check out “Lifetime total likes” and “Total daily reach.”
  • Number of people “talking about” your page: Click on “Talking about this” to learn some of the demographics of those interested in your topics or photos. In Facebook terms, the term “talking about” refers to viral shares of your posts, meaning the subsequent likes, comments or re-shares it receives after it’s initially shared from your page.
  • Viewers that came from a website other than Facebook: Click “Visits,” then “External referrers” to figure out whether links or ads you’ve placed on other websites are doing their job.
  • Engagement on competitors’ pages: To make this work, you must first opt to “watch” your competitors’ pages. You can do that by clicking on “Overview,” scrolling down to the “Add pages” section and using the blue “Add pages” bar each time you make an addition. Once you do that, you can go back and click on “Posts,” then “Top posts from pages you watch” to see and compare how their pages are faring.
  • Other pages of interest: Click on “Suggested pages to watch” to see Facebook’s suggestions for other pages whose audiences are similar to yours, and add them to your watch list. You may be able to glean strategic ideas from their posts.

Facebook also offers several extending features, such that the extent to which you slice and dice that data depends almost entirely on the time and money you wish to spend. For example, you can export data in several formats; divide page-level and post-level insights into separate reports; gauge paid promotions against money spent; and compare the performance of your page over time.

Once you have the general idea, you can get started using the real-world data you’re gathering to inform your social media marketing strategy. In our next blog, we’ll describe how to take an even deeper dive into understanding the information provided by Facebook’s Page Insights.

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Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

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