There’s a lot more you can measure your Facebook content by than simply likes or engagements. In this article we’re going to look at why there’s a push for metrics beyond engagements, specific examples of metrics to use, and how to apply them.

Social Media’s Engagement Problem

Social media introduced a metric type that hadn’t been used or discussed much prior. Engagement. Existing somewhere between an impression and a conversion action, engagements became a defining metric for evaluating the performance of social media content.

Types of Engagement Metrics

Initially seen as a value-add for social media over static media, the idea was to provide a metric showing that while a lot of people may see something, there’s also a large number of them willing to actively engage with the content. Those engagements were potentially viewable by others on the social network, or at least those in the engager’s circle, and thus created an implicit endorsement for the brand.

Sounds great, except those engagements don’t necessarily lead to the ultimate goal of a purchase or other conversion action. Or even the inclination to purchase.

An Alternate Approach to Engagement

Perhaps you read “About Face”, the Facebook measurement report published late last year from the BBDO Comms team. It’s a well-supported report and outlines some alternate metrics to indicate your content is moving the audience closer to a purchasing mindset.

Their setup is clear and straightforward, with several key points

  1. Organic reach on Facebook isn’t sufficient for large pages
  2. Targeting your best fans isn’t the most effective path for increasing sales
  3. Strong creative is the key to effectiveness
  4. Engagements aren’t a proxy for success

Taking this advice, points one and two mean you’re going to be paying for content impressions. And they won’t be targeted to your most core fans, as it’s actually the light buyers who, with a little prodding, can purchase more and increase sales. (Your core fans are already in max consumption mode, the theory goes.)

Points 3 and 4 focus on our key interest. Using metrics to determine what content makes the best impact on our target audience.

So taking a cue from the BBDO report, let’s take a look at metrics that go beyond basic engagement to represent a more successful brand impact.

Video Viewing Retention Rate

In “About Face”, the author’s cite a study showing the longer Facebook videos were viewed the more positive shift in brand recall and purchase intent. Pretty powerful stuff.

If video view length is your KPI, Facebook offers some good data to determine which of your creative campaigns are performing best.

One of the report’s key points is that marketers need to view social media content as part of a larger creative idea. In other words, it’s about campaign themes instead of one-offs. That’s because there are all sorts of wacky posting ideas that can generate engagement, but not real brand affinity. I think this is one of the biggest takeaways of the report, and a place where many marketers can go astray chasing after high engagement numbers.

In a plug for my social analytics platform, Zuum has the capability to apply tags to posts for analyzing any grouping of posts. And that’s really the first step — determining what posts go into what campaign. That’s followed by analyzing them as a group, and then comparing metrics.

Below you can see a chart showing analysis of four campaigns we analyzed with Zuum. This happens to be a comparison of all video posts from four different campaign themes:  Food, art, event and skiing.

Four Campaigns Analyzed for Video Viewing Retention


Zuum also enables custom selection of any Facebook post metric available. Thus posts can be grouped by tags, then analyzed by any metric you choose. These are the metrics with column headers in yellow, above.

Lastly, we can create additional metrics based on those core Facebook metrics. In this case, I’ve divided shares by impressions to know the ratio between those two. I’ve also calculated the % of video views that made it past 10 seconds (which BBDO Comms reported having high correlation with brand affinity). I’ve also created the average views for each video post column, and the views to impressions rate in the last column on the right.

We can see the “event” campaign is the clear leader in the metric “% of views reaching 10 seconds or more”.

If we take that same “% of views 10 seconds or more” and compare it to other metrics, like the shares-to-impressions ratio, or average reach, there’s a noticeable lack or correlation across the various campaigns. These findings are in support of the About Face report.

Consumptions Instead of Views

While views of 10 seconds or more work great for video, we don’t have the same metric for other content types, like photos. However, if we take the principle of a piece of content catching someone’s eye and them wanting more, we can find other ways to measure that for different content formats. With photos, for example, there’s a photo consumption. This is when someone sees a photo in the newsfeed, and then clicks it to get a larger view of it. Pretty similar to someone seeing a few seconds of video and wanting to watch more.

Thus by selecting only photos to analyze, and grouping them by campaign, we can determine what percent of photo posts people took the time to expand and view closer.

In the “Post Consumptions Analysis” chart below, we’ve done just that with two campaigns consisting only of photo posts, tagged “event” and “skiing”. You can see how the skiing campaign has generated a far greater average reach per post, which is generally a welcome metric. However, if we look at how many people took the critical step to expand the photo for a closer look, which would lead to a photo consumption, we can see that the event campaign outperformed the skiing campaign by 43%.

Post Consumptions Analysis


I wouldn’t use this approach to compare photos to video views, but for a relative measure between different campaigns, there’s a strong behavioral similarity between someone wanting to see more of a video post, and someone wanting to see more of a photo post. Something caught their eye, and they demonstrated a desire for additional information.

To Click or Not To Click

If you’ve been around online display advertising much, you may have heard about the report “Natural Born Clickers”. Research showing people who click on banners have very little correlation to those making purchases or other conversion actions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems the same thing is now happening on Facebook. One of the more interesting findings in “Face Off” is the idea that clicks are not a good measurement of brand affinity and purchase intent.

This is probably counter-intuitive to many digital marketers, as the click is what ultimately leads to an online purchase. But it serves to underscore the importance of selecting the right metric when assessing a post or campaign’s performance.

While apparently not all clickers are legitimate prospects, some clickers will move on to the conversion action. So the key is to continue tracking beyond the click and through to the conversion action. Doing so requires site analytics data.

As Google Analytics (GA) is used on the majority of websites, I’ll use that as an example. In GA, there are two elements that need to be in place. 1. Goals need to be set up to record conversion actions, and 2. Campaign tracking codes need to be employed on the post links to ensure that GA will recognize all the dark social traffic from those posts as referral visits from the various social media networks. (If you’re not familiar with the concept of dark social, this will explain

Below is an example of the “campaign” tracking parameter showing up in a Campaigns report in GA, under the Campaign column. In this case, I’ve labeled the various marketing efforts with a campaign name. Other parameters which can be tracked are the source, the medium and the content, each of which can also be viewed in this GA view.

The report view shows how each of the different campaigns performed across the three funnel stages. Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions.

Google Analytics Campaign Report


By mapping these numbers back to your content campaign’s posting, impressions and reach data, you can get a clear idea of how your content is performing relative to your goals. This deeper level of prospect authentication should provide a more accurate read on the effectiveness of your content efforts in reaching your goals.

The campaign URL tracking codes can be generated with Google’s Campaign URL Builder.

The Value of a Share

While research quoted in the About Face report stated sharing having no correlation with conversion actions, that doesn’t necessarily mean sharing has no contribution to brand impact.

Especially for new brands looking to increase awareness, shares from loyal customers can introduce new customers to the brand. This behavior happens all day on Facebook.

Below is a chart showing the previous two campaigns, “event” and “skiing”, with some additional viral metrics. While the event campaign did well in the Consumptions metric, when it comes to sharing and the resulting viral impressions, you can see the average viral impressions per post favors the skiing campaign.

Impact of Sharing


Like all data analysis, it really comes back to what your goals are, and which tactics are going to best help you reach them.

ROI Has Come to Social Media

In a few short years, social media has gone from talking about likes and engagements, to showing a deeper and more nuanced view of how content performs, and what brands can expect in return for their efforts.

The key is knowing what you want to get out of social media and the content you post there. Once that’s clarified, then the rest falls into place.

Have any preferred methods for evaluating content performance? I’d love to hear about them.