By David Masters
Nine decades ago Claude Hopkins advertising classic, Scientific Advertising was published. Hopkins argued that marketing was “a gamble” unless those doing the marketing measured the results of their efforts.
When marketers measure their results, Hopkins wrote, marketing becomes “one of the safest business ventures.” Metrics allow you to see the results of your advertising efforts compared to the time, energy and money you put in.
In Hopkins’s day, gathering marketing data was time consuming. The results of every marketing campaign had to be counted by hand.
With the Internet, tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights automate the process of gathering some data. However, just because some of the data is easy to get hold of doesn’t make it simple to understand and analyze. Even with data readily at hand, marketing is as much an art as it as science. You need to know how to read the data to make it meaningful to your business.
As a writer, I see it this way. Data tells a story. When you’re using data to improve your marketing, you want to find the stories within the data that help you boost revenues, find new clients and grow your business.
In this post, I’ll show you some helpful stories you can look out for in your Facebook Insights data to improve the way you use Facebook.
A Warning On Checking Your Stats
First, a warning. Checking statistics can be addictive and time consuming.
When I published my first blog, I’d waste hours every week staring at my subscriber stats. This was a small blog: at its height, it had just 100 subscribers. Even so, when subscriber numbers grew, I felt a buzz inside. When they remained flat or fell, I sulked over the numbers instead of getting on with working on the blog.
Stuffing yourself with stats is a lot like stuffing yourself with food at Christmas. It feels good at the time, but it’s not particularly healthy.
Limit Your Stats Intake
Because of the addictive nature of statistics, I recommend checking your Facebook stats a maximum of once every two weeks. Once a month is plenty.
This is for two reasons. First, setting aside a regular time to check your stats helps you avoid the temptation to spend hours ruminating over the numbers without taking action on the feedback they’re giving you. Second, looking for medium to long-term trends is far more helpful than fretting over the daily rise and fall of subscriber numbers and fan engagement.
In addition, if your fanbase is relatively small (less than 100 likes), you’ll struggle to find helpful stories in your Facebook Insights. While you’re still small, you can safely ignore Facebook Insights and instead focus on growing your fanbase through the strategies I outlined in my previous posts.
What’s more, if your fanbase is growing week on week, you’re happy with the level you’re engaging with fans, and you’re aware that fans are converting into leads, you don’t need to worry too much about peering into your stats.
If you want to ensure your Facebook marketing is the best it can be, that’s where stats come in handy.
Tracking Your Facebook Insights
Facebook provides two options for tracking your Facebook Page stats. The Facebook interface provides a simple, graphical and easy to understand Insights dashboard. Additionally, you can export your Insights data to a spreadsheet, which provides hundreds of columns of data on how your fans are engaging with your Page.
As a freelancer, responsible for your own marketing, you don’t have endless time to pick apart complex statistics. Because of this, I recommend sticking with Facebook Insights graphical dashboard, which provides you with the most meaty and relevant data. In addition, from the data you gather on the dashboard, you can create your own spreadsheet which you can then use to pull helpful stories from your data.
To access your Facebook Insights dashboard, log into your Facebook Page, and click “See All” in the top right on the Insights box, which you’ll find near the top of your Page.
Analyzing Your Facebook Insights
Whenever you’re pulling stories from data, you need a goal in mind.
As a freelancer, some of the main goals of your Facebook Page should be to:
- Improve the visibility of your brand, so more prospects come across your freelance business.
- Get prospects to Like your Page, so they’re engaging with your business.
- Keep prospects engaged and interested in your business, so when they need to hire help, they look to you.
We’ll bear these goals in mind as we look at how to analyze your data. In particular, we’ll look at how to see whether your Facebook Page is helping you reach out to new prospects, and how to use your Insights to boost engagement.
Facebook’s Insights dashboard has four subpages: Overview, Likes, Reach and Talking About This.
The Overview provides the most relevant data. Before we dig into that, let’s briefly look at the other subpages.
Likes, Reach and Talking About This are helpful for looking at the demographics of your fans, namely age, gender and location. Glance over these every month to check you’re reaching out to the right demographic. To take an extreme example, if your target clients are tech managers from Silicon Valley in their mid-30s to late-40s, yet most of your new Likes are teenage females from Asia, you need to do a radical rethink of your Page and how you engage with your fans.
The Overview is where things get interesting. Scroll down to the Page posts section. The two columns you must pay particular attention to are “Talking About This” and “Virality”.
Now, click “Talking About This” to put the posts in order of most talked about. From this, you can see which of your posts most engaged your fans. Further, by clicking the “All Types Post” box, and selecting an option from the dropdown menu, you can break down the data to see which Posts, Links, Videos and Photos were the most engaging.
Your Facebook Insights Spreadsheet
To make your Facebook insights useful to your business, you’re best to record the relevant data in a spreadsheet. Though this sounds like extra work, ultimately it will save you time by showing you what’s effective on Facebook and what’s not. At most, you’ll spend thirty minutes a month inputting data. To ensure your Facebook marketing is delivering results, that’s time well spent.
Monthly, record in a spreadsheet the top five Facebook Posts which get the most people talking. Alongside the top posts, record the following:
- The post type (was it text, a link, a photo or a video?)
- The post topic (e.g. helpful to your audience; about your daily work; just for fun; an inspiring quote; etc.)
- The time, date, and day of the week you posted it
- How many people talked about it
- The post’s virality figure
With this, you’re beginning to tell a story about what works at engaging your fans. Over time, you’ll see patterns emerging, which you can use to put together an editorial calendar for your future Facebook posts.
For example, you might post an industry related joke to your Facebook Page once a week. Feedback from the data you’ve recorded in your spreadsheet tells you these jokes get your fans talking. It’s time to increase the output of jokes, perhaps to two per week. In short, when you’ve discovered what works, do more of it!
While “Talking About This” shows how engaged your fans are with particular posts, “Virality” shows which of your posts are most boosting the visibility of your freelance business. In general, the higher the Virality figure for a post, the more non-fans will engage with your business through that post.
As with “Talking About This”, click the Virality column to order your recent posts with the most viral first. Record the top five most viral posts, together with the same data – post type, topic, and time – in your spreadsheet.
In addition to recording data from Facebook Insights in your spreadsheet, you can also record the following:
- The amount of time you spend each day on your Facebook Page.
- Which of your clients first found you on Facebook. To do this, you’ll have to ask your clients how they first found you. This is good marketing practice, in any case.
- Which of your clients have engaged on your Facebook Page. This means watching your Facebook Page for when prospects or clients make comments.
- How much work (in dollars) these clients give you.
By recording this information, you can calculate your Facebook Return on Investment (ROI). You can see exactly how much work you’re getting for every minute you put into Facebook.
This spreadsheet, boring as it may look, is marketing gold.
The data you gather through the techniques I show you is fairly basic, but what’s important is that the data tells a story. It tells you which of your updates:
- Most engage your current fans.
- Help you reach out to new fans.
Because every business is different, the results will be different for every freelancer. There’s no magic bullet in marketing, just hard work, feedback, creative inspiration, and more hard work.
Collect data regularly, then tweak and improve your marketing based on what you find, and your Facebook Page could become your most valuable marketing asset.
(See original article at freelanceswitch.com)