The best Facebook analytics report (that you’re probably not using…)

Let’s take a step back, for a minute, from the usual slightly spitty excited talk about measuring social media by ‘engagement’, ‘reach’ or ‘virality’. All good stuff, to be sure, but sometimes – as a website owner, you just want to know how many visits are coming to your site from the Facebook page you lovingly maintain. It’s your bread and butter metric – it makes sense, and you know where you are with it. Chances are, most of your conversions take place on your website, that’s a good enough reason to want insight into your traffic sources.

Facebook domain insights is a great tool – among the reports it gives you are insights into visits to your website, from any link out there on Facebook. Here’s an example from a website, showing visits coming its way from Facebook:

Graph showing links clicked on from Facebook, back to a website

The number of clicks sent to a website, from links appearing in the news feed, page or profile walls. (Click for a larger view)

If you’re running a web analytics tool, you’ll can also get a similar report from your referring sites report – but what you get from insights, which you don’t get from your own website, is a report showing how many times links about your site were shared, regardless of whether they were clicked or not:

Daily shares from a Facebook page

The number of times people included a link to the website in a status message or wall post (Click for a larger view)

Ok – so where’s the insight? What’s the action I could take?
The first time I looked at the graphs above, my immediate question was ‘what’s responsible for the spikes?’. Finding out that answer will give me insights, which I can use to adjust my content strategy. Insights for domains has a ton of other useful reports, for example, it will show the success of any ‘like’ or ‘send’ buttons you have on your website.

The next question is, are the trends in the data above suggesting that the strategy that I have for Facebook is working, or not? In this instance, I can say that the prioritized purpose of my employer’s activities on Facebook is not to acquire traffic to the website  but to provide a platform for conversation with students (though, obviously, it’s nice when content is shared). However, as we increase publication of content on Facebook – and start using it to reach a larger audience we’ll definitely be using these reports to see what impact it’s having – we’ll be looking for an upwards trend. Whether this traffic does anything valuable to us, or for them, on our website is another question….

Talk to your webmaster, give them buns and get the meta tag from Facebook added to your website – enjoy.


Killer Facebook Data (That you can’t get from insights…or anywhere else for that matter)

Here’s some killer statistics from the Facebook page which I curate which fits both the ‘shock and awe’ and ‘frickin’ useful’ categories:

Between August 2011 and January 2012 friends of the page left 348 posts.
60% of these were related to making an application, or a question about our degrees
– 30% of them were practical questions about studying at Malmö
– 10% were links to events, jobs or other content

Simple take home? 90% of the posts we received in that 6 month period were about applying, splendid!

These data tell me that our page is totally supporting the current goals we have for Facebook – our strategy is to specifically focus on using Facebook for customer service and encourage prospective students to contact us via the wall.

How did we get these data? The hard way – my awesome colleague @idarosqvist went through our page with a pen and paper categorising the posts we had received. Definitely not the world’s most glamorous task but it results in some simple, easy to understand numbers which gives both insight (we’re on target with our strategy) and a set of data which allays the fears of those who worry that our page’s wall is full of random nonsense.

If you’ve got a billion friends, and a wall to match, then this probably is not for you; but if you’ve got a ‘regular’ page then taking a foray into your wall, armed with pen and paper, may give you some great insights and some awesome data to report.

(We didn’t look at comments, that would have taken too much time. The sentiment of the posts was largely positive or neutral, as tends to be the case with comments as well).

‘Are talking about’ – The new metric from Facebook, a comparison of Swedish universities.

Facebook have launched their new metric, the rather awkwardly named ‘Are talking about’. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how it’s calculated. The factors which it looks at have been reported as:

– Liking a page
– Posting to the page’s wall
– Liking, commenting or sharing a page’s status
– Answering a question
– RSVPing to an event
– Mentioning the page
– Tagging a photo
– Liking or sharing a check in
– Checking in

Whats twisting my melons is this context for this. What time period is this reporting? Is it the last week, hour or minute? I expect we’ll get an answer to this as the more detailed insights for administrators comes on line – but if you’ve got any idea, I’d love to hear it.

Swedish Universities Ranked by their ‘Are talking about’ (ATA) score, as recorded on 6th October 2011:

Umeå University 296
Uppsala universitet 285
Lund University 226
Umeå universitet 145
KTH  135
Stockholm University 127
Högskolan i skövde 116
Linköping Universitet 104
Uppsala University 102
Högskolan i Halmstad 93
Linne Universitet 92
Karolinska Institutet 80
Mälardalans Högskola 75
Lunds Universitet 72
Mittuniversitetet 66
Malmö University 54
Jönköping University 50
Stockholm’s universitet 49
Högskolan i Borås 40
SLU 37
Chalmers University of technology 37
Högskolan Väst 32
Malmö Högskola 32
Karlstads Universitet 22
Stockholm school of economics 19
University of Borås 18
Royal Institute of Art 9
Högskolan Dalarna 7
BTH officiell 5
Mid Sweden Uni 4

And here’s the ATA score plotted against number of page friends:

Comparison of Facebook page friends with Are Talking About score

So What?

To be honest, I’m not really sure what this is telling us or how you’ll action it.  The more actionable data will be coming in the admin only revamped insights tab. Without knowing what time scale this is reporting, it feels a little meaningless. Also, the number of friends of the page clearly (and naturally) affects the number – weighting for this may make the ATA score more relevant, and this is discussed over on the UK Craft Blog, where they have done a similar comparison. I’ll repeat this again in the next few days, and see how the score changes.

Update – October 7th.

The last 7 days – that’s the amount of activity which the ‘Are Talking About’ metric gives you. This makes it a little sharper, but you’ll be needing to keep a pretty constant eye on your competitors, or peers, if you want to use it for benchmarking over time. Here’s the official information from Facebook:

7 days worth of data - Are talking about



The Cookie Law in Sweden – Self regulation committee started by the IAB

The Swedish arm of the European Trade Association of the Digital and Interactive Marketing Industry (IAB) has created a self regulating committee in response to the introduction of the new Swedish law ‘Better Rules for Electronic Communication.

This law is a response to the recent EU directive which places tough standards on the use of cookies and has serious implications for, for example, the effectiveness of  cookie based tools such as Google Analytics and the various forms of online advertising.

The self regulating committee has created a group with members including Adform, Eniro, Google, Microsoft, Specific Media, Trade Doubler, IAB – Sweden, Swedish Chamber of Commerce, RO, Sveriges Annonsörer, Sveriges Mediebyråer, TU, and Sveriges Marknadsförbund/Näringslivets delegation för Marknadsätt (NDM).

The project is lead by Henrik Nilsson, a lawyer, and I strongly recommend reading  through the presentation he made at the recent IAB conference in Stockholm a few weeks ago, made around the time the new Swedish law was voted in. It’s in Swedish – and gives a background to the cookie law and the self regulating project.

The objective of this project is to create a best practice for the use of cookies. The project aims to deliver a best practice guide in July this year. Hopefully we’ll be seeing updates on the IAB website, you can also follow their legal arm on twitter here.

I work in the Higher Education sector, which is in the not for profit category and is not so well represented in the IAB project- I hope this will change, and I’m happy to say they seem very receptive to getting in other opinions and input. My concern is that limiting the use of cookie based analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, will detrimentally effect the ability  for organisations, such as the university I work for, to effectively manage and optimise their digital marketing activities.

To get a quick overview of the fallout from the EU law (allbeit from a mostly UK perspective) use the search ‘EU cookie‘ in twitter. I recommend checking out Brian Clifton‘s post on the impact of this new directive on the use of Google Analytics and this post, by Paul Hatcher, for a good calm overview – though there is a plethora of posts on this subject out there now.

This blog will be quiet for a while…

In the last few months, my job has changed and I will be shortly be leading a web development project at Lund University. As a result, I will no longer be able to maintain this blog. So, for the time being, I’m shutting down comments and will not be posting.

Many thanks to everyone who has left comments, and I wish you well with your applications and studies.

If I have not answered your comment, I apologise. You can check out the site, as well as the facebook group ( for help.

Discussion at StudyinSweden Regarding Fees

There’s a great thread regarding the introduction of fees at the StudyinSweden site – I’m a little out of the loop right now (due to the work I’m doing with  Lund University’s web development project) so expect to see more updated information there.