Confused about the different Facebook post metrics and what they mean about your posting quality?

  • In this post you’ll learn the different metrics and how they relate to each other.
  • You’ll also understand which of the metrics most relate to your posting goals, like increasing reach, or getting fans more involved with the page’s content.
  • All of the data in this article is available immediately and for free with our free Facebook page report.

That Facebook Metrics Funhouse

If you’ve followed Facebook metrics over the past several years, you know it can seem like an unpredictable, confusing ride.

Sometimes it feels transitional. Like PTAT (People Talking About This), here today and gone tomorrow. Other times they seem to shift from clear to murky. Such as page fans, which became page likes. And never mind that there were then page likes and post likes to keep sorted.

It can be confusing, to say the least.

The latest round of this was when Facebook introduced stories a few years back, and suddenly everyone with Insights access had a new metric to consider.

At the end of the day, though, it’s all about trying to determine what your page performance is. And so having a clear understanding of what the different metrics mean and how they’re defined is critical to improving the return on your Facebook page.

Currently, we have three major performance-type metrics. Engagements, Stories, and Consumptions. In this article, we’re going to break down each to see what they mean, and how they relate to each other.

A Brief Online Metrics Background

Before we jump into engagements, stories and consumptions, though, let’s take a step back to get needed perspective for understanding the definitions.

The web public launching for the masses in 1994 was truly exceptional. It was a medium that offered a number of capabilities that no media platform previously offered. Foremost was the ability for people to interact with things. They could click on ads. Follow links in articles. Initiate emails from a bio. And so on.

This capability was dubbed “interactivity”.

Thus a key new way to measure media performance in the early days of the Web was interactions. A big leap up from traditional media, which could only offer impressions, or someone simply seeing something. And those were usually pretty heavily estimated, to boot. 

So interactions was major differentiation, and the web played it up to the hilt. After all, what business doesn’t sell on its key differentiators?

When social media came on the scene, a similar new capability emerged. Engagement. Suddenly there’s a content performance event somewhere between an impression (someone seeing a brand’s message) and an interaction (someone clicking on the brand’s message to take some further action). It was someone engaging with the content.

Engagement both signaled and differentiated the power of this new type of media, social media.

So with that, let’s take a look at engagements, stories and consumptions.

Engagements – The Umbrella Metric

With the growth of engagement as a key differentiator for social media content, it makes sense Facebook is going to attempt to make Engagement Rate the key performance indicator, or KPI, for content posted on Facebook.

And when a metric is your primary way of measuring social media performance, if you’re the one extracting the most value from social media (the social media network), then you’re going to want that metric to be as big as possible. So that brands feel they’re getting great ROI when they see it.

Thus, Engagements is the Facebook umbrella metric for a Facebook post’s performance. It’s the sum of all possible actions you can take with a post.

So when you look at your posts to determine which generated the most engagement, per Image 1 below, they’re using all potential ways to engage with that post to determine those numbers.

Image 1: Engagement and Engagement Rate in Insights

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There are a number of metrics that can be engagements, and they all fall under one of two categories. Stories and Consumptions.

And of course, any marketer that wants to increase the impact and reach of their page will want to increase the engagement rate of their content.

So next we’ll look at stories and consumptions to clarify those metrics so you can be better prepared to generate more engagement.

Stories – The Impact Metric

The definition of a story is any action a user takes with a post that someone else might see. A kind of public story about your engagement, if you will.

Think about it like this. If you share a post, it’s obvious someone else could see that. Same for comment.

It’s even the case for the new reactions, which includes our familiar like, along with love, haha, wow, sad and angry.

Because even those simple reactions show up on the post, as well as in the Ticker in the upper right corner of the page, per Image 2, below.

Image 2: Facebook Ticker

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Stories is probably the thing many marketers come to Facebook for. Expanding their reach and getting the word out. I know the importance of ROI, and that often leads to a focus on more near-term activity like clicks and site visits.

However, what Facebook offers that so few other companies have ever been able to deliver on, is the ability to fluidly turn a brand’s most ardent customers into an ongoing stream of influencers and brand testimonials. There’s big ROI in that, it just takes more effort to prove.

When it comes to understanding the stories your brand generates, Zuum’s Facebook Content report includes the full view of how your brand is generating stories, in Image 3 below.

Image 3: Zuum’s Facebook Content report details where a page’s stories come from

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Consumptions – The Eyeball Metric

The Facebook metric consumptions is a catch-all for all the engagements that don’t generate a story. That’s Facebook’s definition.

And those can be either impression or interactive actions, to reflect back on our previous view of the history of internet metrics.

The impression-type actions include things like photo views and video plays. Interactive actions include link clicks, and yet another catch-all, other clicks. Other clicks could be any click on a post, including clicks on the logo, or clicks on a post preview window to view the whole post.

Below in Image 4 is a Zuum chart showing the various consumptions during the month of September for the non-profit Special Spectator’s Facebook page. You can see each of the consumptions outlined above.

Image 4: Zuum’s Consumptions by Type chart

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Link clicks are of particular interest to marketers wanting to track more direct response, ROI-driven data. After all, if a goal is to get people to clicks on a social media link and head back to your site, then this is the metric to measure that.

Keep in mind that if you’re curating and sharing other companies posts, or even pointing your posts to content other than what’s on your site, you’ll need to pull those posts out when calculating link clicks as a performance metric.

It’s also good to compare link clicks on a post or set of posts with visits during the same time period to the landing page for those links. This can show you the click-to-landing page drop off, a key measurement of accidental clicks. And of course once you’re into site metrics, there are a lot of ways you can further measure and qualify the site visitors.

Wrapping it up

Engagements, stories and consumptions. All three are important metrics in analyzing your Facebook page performance. It really depends on what you need to measure, and that comes out of a clear understanding of your business goals and tying them to the metrics that most accurately reflect them.

Image 5, below, presents the relationship between these metrics graphically.

Image 5: The Hierarchy of Facebook Engagement

Facebook's Hierarchy of Engagement

And remember, our free Facebook page report gives you all the data points covered here. It’s simply requires logging in with Facebook, which you’ve probably done a thousand times already, and then you should be looking at data for your page within a few seconds.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback, and answer any questions.

And here’s a handy definitions summary of the topics we’ve covered. Keep in mind these are primarily for Facebook, and are for Facebook post metrics, not page metrics.

Impression: A user seeing your message after initiating the view, like playing a video or expanding a photo

Interaction: A user clicking on some aspect of your message

Consumption: Either an impressions or an interactions, as detailed above

Likes: A user liking your post

Comment: A user commenting on your post

Share: A user sharing your post

Stories: The combination of all likes, comments and shares on a post

Engagements: The combination of stories and consumptions