Facebook today announced a major improvement to its analytics tool Insights. Page and Open Graph website admins will now be able to see real-time data about the performance of their Like button and Comments Box social plugins; the age, gender, language, and country demographics of their visitors, and which pages of their website are most popular. Admins of websites that aren’t integrated into the Open Graph can now claim their site and receive analytics about organic sharing of their content on Facebook.
The expansion of Open Graph analytics will allow web publishers to gain more actionable data about how to optimize their Facebook integrations, and will draw more sites to add Facebook functionality. Facebook will migrate all admins to this new version of Insights in two months, so all admins should export their existing data to retain access.
At the end of February, Facebook began generating a full news feed story whenever a Like button representing a real-world object is clicked instead of only generating a one-line Recent Activity feed story in some cases. By rolling the share button functionality into the Like button, Facebook paved the way for this update.
Facebook has also been steadily improving Insights, migrating users to a new version and adding real-time performance data on Facebook posts in January. However, these improvements were all for Page and application admins, and didn’t help the 2.5 million third-party websites that feature Facebook’s social plugins. Now Facebook has widened the scope of Insights to include all kinds of websites — both those with and without Open Graph integrations.
Insights for your Domain
Now, when admins visit http://www.facebook.com/insights/ they’ll see their Pages, apps, social plugins, and claimed websites. The new Insights for your Domain allows admins of claimed sites to see performance and demographic data about their Comments Box, Like Buttons, and “shares” — links to a site shared on Facebook by users who post a URL to the news feed or their wall through the publisher.
To claim a website, click the green “Insights for your Domain”, add your domain’s URL, assign the site’s admin privileges to a specific user or all the admins of a specific Page or app, copy the returned meta tag code and place it in the <head> of the root webpage of your domain, and click Check Domain to cause the domain to appear in your list. Subdomains will need tags added to each of them. Since only those with access to the website could add the meta tags, Facebook doesn’t need an additional method of verifying the admin’s identity.
Admins can then view the Website Overview, which contains summaries of several data sets. Site Engagements shows counts for Likes, comments, and shares on and of the site. This gives a broad view of what plugins are performing the best, and what social actions are being taken most. For instance, if an admin sees they’re getting fewer Likes than comments, they might consider moving the Like button closer to their Comments Box social plugin.
Distribution on Facebook shows the total impressions on Facebook of content linking to your site, and the same data sliced into impressions on Like, comment, and share stories. Referral Traffic to Site shows the total clicks, and a breakdown of clicks generated by Like, comment and share stories on Facebook that direct back to a website.
Deep Analytics for Like Buttons, Comments Box plugins, and Shares
Admins can drill down into specific metrics about Likes, comments, and shares. The Like button overview shows total impressions, clicks, and click-through rates of the Like buttons on a site, and the total impressions clicks back to the site, and CTR of the stories generated by the Like buttons.
Admins can also see demographic information in aggregate form about those who clicked Liked buttons or their stories, and a list of the most popular pages on their site ranked by Likes. This data helps admins determine the optimal placement and style of their Like buttons, and refine their Like story for maximum CTR.
The Shares overview displays the number of times a site was shared on Facebook, impressions of those shares, CTR of shares, a list of the most shared webpages, and demographics of those who shared. This data can help admins learn which of their webpages resonate most with Facebook users.
The Comments Box overview displays Comments Box impressions, total comments made, the comment rate (comments divided by impressions), demographics of commenters, and the webpages receiving the most comments. These analytics let admins identify their most discussed webpages and what type of users are commenting.
Since this new version of Insights offers new data fields, developers who want to access this new Insights data programmatically can use the Insights FQL table or the Graph API. Many of the new Insights fields won’t display historical data, as it wasn’t being collected. In two months, Facebook will forcibly migrate all admins to this new version of Insights, and they may lose access to some historical data. Therefore, all admins should export their lifetime data. The migration may anger some admins and developers who prefer to see a data all the way back to the creation of their app or Page.
The data presented in these new fields will help turn succesful management of an Open Graph-integrated website into a more precise science. Larger companies who may have been weary to add social plugins such as the Like button without a clear way of determining their impact will now have real-time data they can use to support their decisions.
Expect the new Insights to further accelerate social plugin implementation. Also, by creating a stepping stone to Open Graph integration for webmasters curious about how their site is being shared, Facebook may be able to convert some hold-outs.