The Missing Stat

This post started with the wrong premise, that Facebook wasn’t providing enough stats to page administrators. Last night I received a mail from Facebook that outlined some brief stats from a page that I administer. It looked like this.

Facebook Page Statistics

At first I thought, nice thanks. Then I thought that what I was really missing were statistics that fit my own behaviour around pages I subscribe to. I never visit a page, except the first time I join it. Typical behaviour for a page’s updates are that they appear in my news-stream, where I then either comment, like, or hide the stream. My question was, where are those stats? The answer was that that data is made available to page administrators, in the form of Facebook’s “Insight Page,” which:

“provides Facebook Page owners and Facebook Platform developers with metrics around their content. By understanding and analyzing trends within user growth and demographics, consumption of content, and creation of content, Page owners and Platform developers are better equipped to improve their business with Facebook. “

So that’s pretty cool and disarmed my outrage somewhat. Then I created a Tech IT Easy Facebook page to check out this fabled Insight dashboard (I don’t have access to this data from the other page). Below is a screenshot of the (blank) data that you get access too. I am missing the data regarding for how many people are actively seeing the page updates in their newsfeed.

Facebook Insight Page

As social networkers, we, the people, have all become somewhat experts on how and when to do an update. We’ve all seen the error of people’s ways, when they write whole essays on Twitter (tweet after tweet after tweet, thanks Steve Martin, you’re out!) or updates that add Very.Little.Value., like “ouch, my new tatoo hurts,” and “help me, I’m stuck under my bed and I can’t get out!” (actually that is serious, even though what are you doing Facebooking about it?). My typical behaviour is to unsubscribe or hide such updates from my view, my newsfeed, my life (not the emergency one, of course, which was meant as a joke!).

It seems kind of relevant to someone that uses a page for marketing knows how their behaviour affects the behaviour of others (most people that start Facebook pages aren’t actually marketeers, so they need even more help). It seems like there are a whole bunch of questions to ask, such as:

  • do I write too much or too little?
  • is my content interesting or boring?
  • what behaviour follows my updates, e.g. do they click a link, like, comment, or hide?
  • Etc.

I don’t even want to get into how interesting statistics are for regular people, who just want to know how their behaviour affects others.

Solving that problem seems somewhat of a conundrum. For one, statistical dashboards have a learning curve and how do you provide the support to all your users when they have access to and questions about all this data? The Google analytics suite (analytics, feedburner, adsense, etc.), which offers free functionality for most people, also requires you to know how to cut and paste a piece of html into a site you want to track. That work alone prevents the “common people” from getting access to complex statistical data.

The mail I got this morning from Facebook would allow me to resend that data to people who are signed up to the page. But the statistics are so simplistic that they are nearly non-telling.

I would love to have stats for my regular Facebook and Twitter pages, but that too isn’t provided for, though I can track the limited click-data that bit.ly gives me (question is how long Twitter will allow for other URL-shorteners to exist). I imagine that people with pro-Twitter-accounts get similar dashboards to the Facebook Insights one.

The title of this post is just as much about the missing stat in Facebook Insights as it is about the missing stat for the pro-sumer, that I imagine we are all being trained to become.

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