It’s hard to ignore Facebook. If you’re in B2C, it’s pretty much impossible. Increasingly, even if you’re in B2B, it’s not a good idea. Facebook simply crushes every other social media network in terms of active users, the amount of content being shared and in how much business there is to be had on it.
Of course, you’ve got to get over the bait and switch move Zuckerburg pulled. Facebook is now a pay to play platform. Organic reach has been slashed to as little as 2% of what it was a few years ago. But despite those disappointments, Facebook still delivers. Even if it is mostly an advertising platform now, it’s a great one. Facebook clicks are usually far cheaper than what AdWords or Bing can deliver.
It’s just not quite as easy to generate results from your Facebook page as it used to be. You can’t just post blindly, willy-nilly, and expect to get results. Fortunately, you don’t have to post blindly. Facebook’s internal analytics reports – called Facebook Insights, Audience Insights and Audience Optimization – can give you all sorts of actionable data and controls to improve your marketing. All you have to do is look.
To find the Insights reports, head to your Facebook page and click the “Insights” link.
Don’t see that? It may be because your page hasn’t gotten 30 likes yet. Don’t worry – you’ll get there soon. See our article, New Research on How to Get More Facebook Engagement and Marya Jan’s terrific post, 30 Things To Do On Facebook To Skyrocket Your Business In The New Year.
Assuming you’ve got that link, here’s how to find out the basics of how your page is performing.
1) How to find your Facebook posts – and your competitors’ posts – with the highest engagement.
Here’s what you’ll see from the Overview view of Facebook Insights:
If you click on the “Your 5 Most Recent Posts” bar, you’ll be brought to a page where you can see all your posts.
There you can sort by reach or engagement rate. Most Facebook experts recommend not getting too focused on reach. What matters is the engagement rate. Try to see if there are any similarities between the posts that have gotten the most engagement. Conversely, check which posts have gotten the worst engagement rates. See any trends there? You might want to publish fewer posts like that.
Once you know which posts do best, apply that knowledge:
- Reshare the posts that got the highest engagement (particularly at a different time than when you first published them).
- Create more posts like them.
Want to know how your posts’ engagement rates compare to industry leaders? Check out this chart from eMarketer:
And here’s the average engagement rates for different types of posts, from Locowise’s Facebook Growth And Engagement: 2015 Year In Review:
Those are good starting points for benchmarking. But wouldn’t it be great if you could see how your competitors’ Facebook pages were faring? You can.
Just use Facebook’s “Pages to Watch”. You’ll need to have 100 likes for your page to get this to work, but after that, just go to the Facebook Insights Overview > Posts and then click on the “Top Posts from Pages You Watch” link. You’ll be able to add any site you want from there – up to 100 pages at a time. Then you can track what they post and how those posts perform.
Bonus: There’s another way to get more mileage out of your competitors’ Facebook pages. It’s to get your page listed as a Similar Page. Here’s what the Similar Pages feature looks like:
To get your page included in these rosters, go to Settings > General > Similar Page Suggestions and then check the box.
And there you go. Facebook is still offering free ways to build your audience… if you know where to find them.
2) Check your Audience Insights, then use the Audience Optimization tool to create content better targeted for them.
Facebook has more analytics data available than just what’s in the straight up Insights area. It’s also got an analytics section dedicated to studying your audience. They’ve just hidden in it in the advertising data. One snag, though: You’ll need at least 1,000 likes to have enough data to do this analysis.
To find your Audience Insights data, go to the Ad Manager > Plan > Audience Insights. You’ll be asked to choose which audience you want to analyze. Choose “People connected to your Page”. You’ll see something like this:
Those of you who advertise to custom audiences will immediately recognize how valuable this is. You can use the Page likes information to find which audiences to advertise to, for example. And you can use the demographics data to further refine those custom audiences.
But that’s not all you can do.
Ever heard of “personas”? They’re used a lot in content marketing and in other marketing disciplines. Personas are a great way to create content that’s better targeted to the particular types of people you want to attract and convert to customers.
Personas often behave a bit differently from one another – so not only do they need different content, but they usually require a different sales funnels. Personas are also important because some customers are worth a more than others. So marketers often break up their customers into persona groups based on how much lifetime value they hold for the company.
So all that data you’re looking at in your Audience Insights reports – that’s all persona marketing gold. Use it to shape how you define the personas you use in your other marketing. For a detailed tutorial on exactly how to use this information to create personas, see Moz’s article, How to Create Audience Personas on a Budget Using Facebook Insights.
There’s one other crazy powerful thing you can do with Audience Insights. You can upload your email list and have Facebook give you all the specs on your subscribers that you’ve seen for other audiences.
You can’t upload the list from within Audience Insights, but you can upload it from Assets > Audiences > Create a Custom Audience.
Facebook recommends having at least 1,000 people in a Custom Audience for best results. That means you’ll ideally have more than 1,000 subscribers because not every email address in your subscriber list will match up to a Facebook account. However, the 1,000 people minimum is more of a guideline. Facebook won’t block you from uploading and creating a customer audience for even 100 subscribers.
If you haven’t tried this yet, I highly recommend it. It’ll give you a way to verify the data you’ve used to create personas, for starters. Then it’ll give you everything you need to know to create killer custom audiences for advertising. And that’s just the start.
3) Use Facebook Audience Optimization to segment your audience and create targeted posts for those segments.
You know how important it is to segment your email list, right? It gets you more opens, clicks and sales – and happier subscribers. Well, that applies to your Facebook posts, too. Or at least it can.
You can choose which groups of followers you show a published post to. The settings to do this are right in the controls you see when you create a post in Facebook. But if you’ve got less than 5,000 likes for your page, you’ll need to first turn on the Audience Optimization features.
To do that, go to Settings > General and find Audience Optimization settings in the list.
Click Edit and just check the box. Click Save. Pretty easy, right?
Now when you’re about to create a post from within your Facebook page, you’ll see the Audience Optimization symbol.
Click it and you’ll be able to target the post to people who have certain interests.
Or, if you want, click on the “Audience Restrictions” tab in the pop-up to show the posts only to followers who match certain demographic filters.
If your company happens to be national or international, this feature would let you promote events to followers who are close to the location of the event. Or if you had a chain store that was offering a special promotion, you could show that special promo only to nearby customers. Or, if you were a clothing retailer, you could show men’s clothing posts to men only, and women’s clothing posts to women only. The possibilities are almost endless.
There are some extremely powerful analytics tools hidden in your Facebook account. With even a little bit of exploration and testing, you could dramatically increase your results. Who knows, you might even be able to break a 10% engagement rate or double the effectiveness of your advertising.
What do you think?
Are you using any of these tools or tactics in your Facebook marketing? How are they working? Please share your experience in the comments.