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Facebook Goals: Measuring Your Way to Impact

By Drew Bernard - February 19, 2014

Author Biography

Drew Bernard

Drew Bernard is on a mission to leverage the world’s largest social network to make a better world. He is a regular contributor to The NonProfit Times and the founder and CEO of ActionSprout.com, a company that helps nonprofit organization build relationships on Facebook that result in real, measurable impact. Drew has been helping nonprofit organizations leverage online technology to build productive relationships with supporters for over a decade. Drew is also an ardent supporter of entrepreneurship in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. He can be reached at drew@actionsprout.com.


Have you ever had the nagging feeling that your Facebook efforts aren’t resulting in the kind of impact that they should be?

Or, is it even worse? Is your organization is working more for Facebook than Facebook is working for you?

I am going to step out on a limb here and say that if you haven’t had these thoughts, you’re probably not expecting enough from Facebook.

For too long, organizations were told that Facebook was only for “building awareness.”

Today, we all recognize how silly it is to think that awareness alone could somehow have a real impact on our missions. Impact is the result of action, whether it’s supporters lending their voice or time to a campaign or making a donation to support your cause.

“Engagement” is the term used to describe action online these days.

The evolution from “awareness” to “engagement” is a very positive one indeed. But engagement is a two way street. Engaging people requires action on your part too.

So, how do you manage your Facebook page with an eye toward engagement? How do you track progress? How do you know if you’re getting the most out of Facebook?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Last week I started to capture some of my thinking in writing. In this post, I am going to introduce the three primary goals that I believe you should be tracking progress toward, no matter if your page has 3,000 fans or 3,000,000 fans.

Reach:

The first metric that every Facebook manager should be tracking is overall reach. Reach is a pretty obvious metric, it’s simply a measure of how many people to whom your message is getting delivered. Most organizations have been measuring this for quite some time. After all, without reach you really can’t expect to get much value out of Facebook.

But many organizations are looking at the wrong metric to gauge reach: Fan count. The fact of the matter is that it’s not uncommon for a well-manage page with 5,000 fans to have a greater reach than a poorly managed page with 50,000 fans.

Don’t get me wrong; fan count is interesting, for sure. But to assess and track reach, you really need to look beyond fan count, to the number of people talking about your page and the reach numbers Facebook gives you on our insights tab.

Together, these give you a far better picture of your actual reach than fan count. Stop worrying about fan count and start managing your page for reach.

Engagement:

Reach alone does note create impact. It is the result of action. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the second key metric you should be tracking and managing your page for is engagement.

Engagement and Reach are tightly intertwined, but it’s important to measure both separately so you can know where you should be focusing your time and energy.

The truth is, no matter how large your page is, if people are not engaging with your content, your page will fail to live up to it’s potential.

Furthermore, if people are not engaging with your mission, how can they possibly impact your work?

But measuring engagement on Facebook is a little harder than measuring reach.

Facebook gives us some good tools for measuring the overall engagement of our page, as well as how we’re doing on a post-by-post basis. The numbers they give us are relatively raw and don’t take into account fan count. In other words, it’s hard to see patterns if you only look at the stream of data Facebook provides.

Looking at countless pages that use ActionSprout has taught us that one of the most powerful ways to measure engagement is to measure engagement relative to you fan count. After all, a page with 100,000 fans that engages 200 people on average per post is not performing nearly as well as a page with 3,000 that engages 100 people on an average post.

After exploring this idea for a while and seeing the impact managing a page for engagement can have, we decided to build a little tool that we could use to assign engagement scores to different pages on Facebook (It’s worth noting that personal pages on Facebook do not allow apps to be installed.  If your organization uses a personal page, there are a number of important reasons to move over to an organization page including the ability to use apps like ActionSprout). It is now free for anyone to use http://engagement.actionsprout.com/inspire.

Once you have a good way to track your ongoing engagement performance, your job becomes looking for and posting content that will continually increase your engagement score.

Capture

Okay, so you’re measuring reach and engagement. The final key goal you should be working to accomplish on your Facebook page is probably just as obvious as the other two, but fewer organizations have really begun to take it serious.

Can you image running your website or email system without capturing data from the people that engage with you through those channels? Well, you should also be working to capture data from supporters on Facebook.

Many organizations have hardly begun to capture data from Facebook supporters, which is a big mistake. At the very least you should be working to capture email addresses from your most active supporters so you can reach them directly, on your terms, not Facebook’s.

But different organizations value different data.

Depending on what information you keep in your donor or supporter database, and on how you use email and advertising to support your work, you will be looking to capture different information from supporters on Facebook.

Capturing data from those supporters that engage with you mostly through Facebook is not nearly as hard as it might sound. And measuring success of data capture is as simple as counting how many new email addresses you have added to your list and how many existing supporters from whom you have captured additional valuable information.

So that’s it. Reach, Engagement and Capture are three metrics that together provide with a very meaningful picture of your overall Facebook efforts. In a perfect world, each week you would see your content reach, engage and capture more supporters. For ideas about how to improve each of these three metrics, read my accompanying post over on the ActionSprout blog.

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