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One of the more requested features we’ve had is to be able to detect when a brand’s Facebook post has significant promotion behind it. This is especially critical in conducting accurate competitive analysis, for several reasons.

This new capability for Zuum improves a marketer’s ability to analyze competitor activity on Facebook, providing a better understanding their post promotion habits, and what messages they’re putting their budget behind.

It will also increase the accuracy of analyzing a number of content-related strategic issues, including the best times to post and the most effective media types. It also adds a new dimension to Zuum’s already powerful social campaign analysis, letting any marketer not only see the top posts in a campaign and view the campaign’s content calendar, but also gain a better sense of how much the overall campaign’s success was driven by factors outside of normal organic engagement on Facebook.

Report Highlights

  • Detection of which competitor posts are heavily promoted, and approximately how much the promotion contributed to the post’s engagement
  • Analyze the overall impact of promoting posts for any brand, for any time period.
  • More accurate engagement figures for any engagement based metric, including the most engaging times of day, the most engaging subjects, and the most engaging media types
  • Assess how much of your or a competitor’s campaign performance is due to promotion of posts

How It Works

To detect the presence of promotion, Zuum pulls data at regular intervals indicating how engagement evolves on every post tracked in the Zuum system. This includes individual data curves for likes, comments and shares.

Based on research that we conducted on over 2,000 posts, from June and July of 2014 with more than 100 engagements, we found that the percentage of engagement that happens after the first 24 hours is a strong indicator of the presence and level of paid promotion.

The data below shows the odds of a post having paid promotion based on what percent of the total engagement happens more than 24 hours after it was initially posted. So for a post in which 40% of the engagement happens after the 24 hour mark, there’s a 93% chance the post had paid promotion.


You can see this illustrated on Chart 1, below. The flattening at the 24 hour mark is basically the time decay component of the Facebook algorithm pushing that content out of the newsfeed.

When posts have heavy promotion, the curve typically takes a very different shape. Posts that are promoted heavily tend to display growing engagement well beyond that 24 hour mark. Note Chart 2, below, and how the engagement is just starting at the 24 hour mark.

Chart 2: Engagement arc with considerable promotion

Detecting and accounting for this factor enhances Zuum data in a number of ways.

Per Post Identification

Looking at the icon at the far right of each Facebook post displayed in Zuum, you can immediately see which posts have generated engagement beyond normal organic levels, and view the 24 hour data performance right next to the total engagement data as shown in Chart 3. You can click on the +24h indicator to see the engagement curve, like the ones shown in charts 1 and 2 above.

Chart 3: Post display in Zuum with 24 hour engagement indicator

Campaign Analysis

In cases where you’re analyzing a series of posts, like in our Subject Analyzer, Zuum will show you the overall impact of the engagements, relative to the engagements that happened within the first 24 hours. This helps you understand the influence of promotion on a campaign’s results.

Facebook Leaderboard Comparison

On Zuum’s Facebook leaderboard, we also display both the overall engagements and engagements from the first 24 hours, per brand, for any given period of time. So again, you’ll be able to compare overall performance and post-24 hour impact of any competitor. Chart 4 below shows how this looks, in the orange boxed area.

Chart 4: Facebook Leaderboard with total and 24 hour engagement comparison

More Accurate Metrics Overall

In other Zuum charts where we’re comparing performance, we give you the option to view by either the total engagement rate or the 24 hour engagement rate. This includes the Subject Analyzers, our Posting Time chart, and Media Type Analysis.

Overall, this gives you more accurate engagement rates on a number of key metrics, and leads to interesting insights into the practices of your competitors.