Facebook is the Big Kahuna of social media. Eight hundred million users from around the world spend considerable time on the platform, and 350 million users access it through a mobile device.
Reports on the amount of time spent on Facebook are astounding, if not expected. Nielsen, in its third-quarter study on social media habits, reported that US Internet users spent 53 billion minutes on Facebook in May 2011 alone. HubSpot estimated that one of every eight minutes spent on social media is spent on Facebook.
It's not surprising, then, that analytics developers are beginning to regard Facebook metrics as more than merely ancillary to Website measurement. Fortunately, Facebook is making such metrics easier to gather.
Second, Facebook upgraded Facebook Insights, its analytics dashboard, to monitor the activity caused by Likes selected and Share buttons clicked. This gives fan page and app developers a means to understand fans and app user engagement within Facebook. As one benefit, users get a more refined optimization choice between ads and post activity. This means page owners can better determine whether an ad or a post would spread a message more effectively.
Moreover, Facebook analytics providers PageLever and Google Analytics have launched new solutions. PageLever groups its results into three nuanced reports of fan page activity: growth of fans, visibility of posts, and engagement resulting from the posts. PageLever and Facebook Insights chart fan page posts, displaying dates and varied metrics detailing who is following and why. Google Analytics' Social Plug-in can track actions from Facebook buttons, as well as other social media, alongside Google+ on tagged Websites. Though the code requires some modification, you can compare a social media campaign against other traffic referrals and manage the digital presence of your business.
As measurement of Facebook and other social media gets incorporated into standard Web analytics tools, we may see clickthrough rates lose their status as the yardstick for campaign success as the emphasis on sharing grows. How activity flows from one source to a forum must be considered. It’s not enough to have an accounting of posts or the number of comments on a page. Marketers, who are accustomed to presenting a number representing volume, will need to find more useful dashboard presentations -- ones that show trends and activities across a campaign.
With the latest changes, Facebook measurement is coming of age. Given the global acceptance of Facebook, coupled with the growing Facebook-Google+ rivalry, this development will profoundly influence Web analytics in 2012 and beyond.