We recently sat down with Chad Wittman, founder of EdgeRank Checker, to talk about his company’s newest product — PostAcumen. Wittman talked about what PostAcumen can offer for major brands on Facebook and how it can solve the problem of return on investment.
Dennis Yu: What does PostAcumen do that no other product does?
Wittman: Instead of simply benchmarking your page against another particular competitor, we’re looking at your competitor set as a whole. This gives you much more perspective to understand what is working universally for your industry/peer set.
Yu: What are some of the key things people do based on these competitive benchmarks?
Wittman: Competitive benchmarks provide a bit of context for brands to understand where they fit into their competitive set.
Looking at total fan size or total engagement only paints part of the picture. We want to provide key metrics that give you insight into where your competition is doing well or struggling.
Brand managers are using this information to better understand reasonable ranges of expectations. Are we leading the pack, with little room for organic growth, or do we have a ton of catch up to do? What type of content is driving success for our competition?
Yu: How can you estimate reach if you don’t have competitor impressions?
Wittman: Estimating reach is something we’re very excited about. You won’t really find it anywhere else. We’re also looking at estimated clicks, estimated virality, and estimated impressions. This is giving brands key insight into areas they typically don’t understand.
We can estimate these metrics by our understanding of how Facebook pages interact in the news feed. We know how small brands typically perform with certain engagement levels and how large brands are impacted. We’ve been studying correlations between engagement and reach for a while now, and we’re excited to begin the process of estimating something that no one else has come out with.
Yu: Tell me about a happy customer of PostAcumen.
Wittman: Our PostAcumen customers have provided awesome feedback so far. We strive to create an easy-to-use tool that saves time and provides real insight into how to actually improve your Facebook strategy.
We’re working with a top-notch ad agency (sorry, nondisclosure agreement, can’t reveal), and they’re doing very cool stuff with our platform. They’ve been able to benchmark their content, begin to identify when competitors may have spent significant money on ads, as well watch their ideal demographics engagement behavior. We’ll be revealing more in the near future.
Others have been thrilled with our feature called Monocle, which provides real-time analysis of your competitive set. Some of our advanced users have built out competitive sets that consist of an entire industry or perhaps a target demographic. They’re gleaning real-time analysis of large groups of data and then applying their knowledge to their campaigns.
Yu: Why isn’t this part of EdgeRank Checker?
Chad Wittman: EdgeRank Checker is all about understanding how EdgeRank impacts your content. One of EdgeRank Checker’s most popular features is Industry Report — PostAcumen was born from that. We wanted to take PostAcumen to the next level but felt like the possibilities were endless.
Instead of mixing our message at EdgeRank Checker, we opted to build a standalone tool that helps EdgeRank Checker customers that need deeper analysis. Plus, Facebook analytics is only the beginning. PostAcumen can help any social platform in the future.
Yu: Here’s a big one: Can you estimate what competitors are spending on ads?
Wittman: Ad spend is something that is incredibly difficult to pinpoint due to the way Facebook reports data. However, we’ve found some very interesting things as we’ve been studying the Facebook ecosystem. We’re not there yet, but it’s on our road map to understand how all of this content is being impacted from both organic and paid. Our customers are definitely excited about that one.
Yu: Tell me something that will impress veteran social analytics folks.
Wittman: Veteran social analytics folks are going to be blown away to see accurate estimated reach, clicks, and virality. These are metrics that they can’t find anywhere else. When you pair that with the ability to see the industry’s trending content, as it happens, you start to see some awesome things.
Advanced customers are leveraging deep analytical data, all while in the beautiful and easy-to-understand reports of PostAcumen. For the ones who just want raw data, we’re dropping that into exportable CSVs so they can play with our estimations as they see fit.
Yu: Will your tool help me measure return on investment?
Wittman: That’s what our tool ultimately aims to solve. We try to give brand managers the tools to take a look at new opportunities. We see pods (that’s what we call our page groupings) of news pages that all post at extremely high frequencies. We’re analyzing which posting frequency strategy is the best, as well as looking at the worst. Improving something like post frequency will improve engagement, which will then improve average reach, which will drive clicks and, hopefully, bottom-line ROI. So ultimately, yes — PostAcumen is going to help optimize your Facebook strategy so that it impacts your ROI.
Right now we’re handing brand managers the tools to get in and figure out what to do next. The next phase of our tool is to provide those custom tailored recommendations to improve things going forward.
Yu: What are some surprising things you’ve learned?
Wittman: Liz Philips — who runs social media for TaylorMade, Adidas Golf, and Ashworth — listed PostAcumen as a must-have tool on Social Media Examiner. She loves the extensive competitive analysis on Facebook, which allows them to see how their metrics stack up against their competitors.
Yu: So this is all public data — no insights tokens?
Yu: Any plans to go beyond Facebook?
Wittman: We’re keeping our eye on the hottest social platforms, but until one of them rises to take significant value from Facebook, we’ll be sticking with Facebook.
Yu: What do you think of tools like that try to find look-alike fans and interest targets?
Wittman: I think tools that provide fan analysis can provide interesting value. I think the tougher part is how to specifically target those fans while staying within Facebook’s terms of service. OK, I now know John Smith is a top fan, but what can I do about it? Aside from a one-off amazing viral tactic to reward John, I think Facebook makes it difficult for brands to capitalize on that knowledge. If someone figures that out, it could be huge.
Yu: Custom audience targets?
Wittman: Yes, which I think can be huge for the brands that dedicate themselves to segmenting their audience.
Yu: What about business-to-business, or folks that get low engagement like agencies, healthcare, etc.? What do you see as the impact of ad-driven versus organic traffic? In other words, how do you view owned, earned, paid?
Wittman: In my opinion; owned, earned, and paid are blending together on Facebook. Brands that understand this mixture of media and ultimately embrace will be the ones that will leverage their Facebook presence the strongest. Understanding which content to apply paid media to and which media not to will become part of the game of balancing a successful approach.
Just like with Google, organic and paid results are completely different. I know some people who’ve built an entire business off of cost per click on Google. Personally, we built EdgeRank Checker off of 100 percent organic results. Facebook success will be similar in the future. Brands that struggle with engagement (agencies, healthcare, etc.) will need to apply more paid media to their campaigns, while brands like the National Basketball Association and the National Football League can focus nearly solely on organic.
PostAcumen is trying to show both sides of the coin and what can be attained by monitoring the best in class, as well as your own brand.
Yu: What is your tool missing that you wish it had?
Wittman: Ad budget estimates would be incredibly powerful for brands trying to understand their competition. We would love to be able to bring deep-level ad analysis for the industry and the competition. This data is obviously very private for Facebook, as they want to keep the marketplace on a need-to-know basis.
Aside from that, we’re hoping to further explore demographics and large industries to provide wide reaching context for brand managers. There’s so many cool things to be done, so little time.
Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.