5 reasons the new Facebook Insights Still Suck

The only thing worse than having nothing is having nothing when you THINK you have something.

This is how you might end up feeling if you “believe all the hype” about the new Facebook Insights that was just re-released last month.

While it is a legitimate design upgrade and it is substantially better than the previous version in terms of functionality, styling, navigation, speed, etc., which is good and deserves due credit, it is still seriously lacking where it matters most and here’s why:

5 Reasons the new Facebook Insights suck

#1 – “When your Fans Are Online” is not what you think it is.

It’s not really important when your fans are on facebook, what’s important is when they are viewing YOUR content.

This misunderstanding can have a dramatic impact on the results of your marketing campaign.

For example consider the following graph:

Facebook fans
Example of when your Facebook fans are online.

This report titled “When your fans are online” can be misleading as you may think that this is an indicator of when your fans are viewing YOUR content or when they are at least interested in viewing your content.

The problem is it’s actually just the average number of your fans that saw ANY posts on Facebook, not YOURS, and it doesn’t mention the fact that people tend to view different types of content at different times.

It’s true.

Just like we drink different types of beverages in the morning than in the evening, we view different types of content on the web at different times of the day.

It also follows for days of the week.

Some days we are clearly more interested in viewing certain topics and other days, not so much.

This detail is not available even in the new Facebook insight interface.  The only way to know which days your fans are viewing your content specifically by day is to use a third party tool.  Here’s an example report from Agorapulse.

Facebook user behavior
See which days your fans are online with Agorapulse

With this report you can easily see that your fans are viewing your content most in the afternoon and they view it on Sunday more than any other day of the week by far.

So, if you’re running ads in the morning or posting content on Saturday, a time and day that they viewed your content the least, then it’s like you’re playing to an empty room.

What makes it so bad is you’d never even know these important facts if you’re only using facebook insights, doesn’t that suck?

#2 – Best Post Types, yikes.

As you evaluate the performance of your content in facebook you need to know what types of content are performing best.

However, Facebook insights defines “Best Post types” by media type, meaning content that has a link, includes a photo, or is a status update:

Best post type on Facebook
Example of the best post type to share on a Facebook Page.

At first impression this appears to be very useful information until you realize it’s not the TYPE OF MEDIA that you shared that’s important it’s the TYPE OF MESSAGE the post contains that counts.

In order to convert fans into customers you need to monitor how people are responding to the “calls to action” type posts that you specifically designed to lead fans down your sales funnel.

You don’t need to know if your posts with links were popular or if your posts with photos rocked.

What you need to know is how the posts that lead to sales are performing–if you want sales.

This level of detail is only available in third party tools:

Average users reached by post tag
To view the average users reached by post tag, you need to use a third-party tool.

The report above from details not only how many users your content reached but also the category of the posts by tag.

With this information you can optimize your marketing campaign easier as it’s clear to you how your sales content is being received.

Now you can allocate resources accordingly which will help to increase engagement and reach.

#3 – Metrics Out of context.

Performance statistics or “metrics” without context are just numbers.

Just like data without context is useless garble, example:


This character string makes no sense until context is added:

Facebook metrics
Example of Facebook metrics performance statistics.

The same point follows for Facebook insights.

The performance statistics provided aren’t presented in a meaningful context so the information can’t be interpreted in a way that would actually improve conversions.

Here’s what I mean.

If you have established a click through rate of 1.8% with your content the question remains, are you beating your competitors by a mile or trailing behind them pathetically?

Since this information is not provided by Facebook the only option is to turn to a third party tool for this information.

The (free) Facebook Page Barometer provides the most important performance metrics as well as a comparison to other Facebook pages that are similar to yours:

Agorapulse Barometer
Facebook performance metrics in Agorapulse Barometer.

With this information you can further optimize your marketing campaigns as now you can quickly determine which areas need your attention and resources most.

When you think about your competitors the most important question is, “Where are you doing well and where are you well, in need of some help?”

If you only use Facebook insights you cannot answer this question and, that sucks.

#4 – No Engagement/Reach Perspective

In order to improve your engagement and conversion rates it’s critical that you can compare the results of two different posts quickly.

For example, let’s say you have two posts about the same product:

One is a product demonstration, the second is a review.

Based on how Facebook presents its performance data you could mistakenly believe that the wrong post is most effective:

Facebook post metrics in the new Facebook Insights
Example of Facebook post metrics in the new Facebook Insights.

In the report above from Facebook it’s easy to see which post had the highest numbers in terms of engagement and reach.

What the report doesn’t show you is which post created the most engagement for the users it reached.

This is the important question that needs an answer but it requires more than just numbers, a little math is needed.

Engagement calculator
Formula for calculating engagement on a Facebook Page.

The simple equation above will generate a percentage that can be used to quickly compare two posts’ performance objectively.

With this information you can further optimize your campaigns and save money in your budget by investing in resources like ads, content, and more to promote the posts that clearly perform best.

Facebook Insights performance
Example of Facebook post performance.

This is more evidence that as social media users have advanced and become more difficult to gauge so too have the tools.

A modern post performance analysis tool can generate a chart with critical metrics like fan reach and engaged user percent that can be used to quickly identify which post is performing best.

This will allow you to quickly make timely adjustments that would otherwise require you to calculate this information manually which is time consuming and, that sucks.

#5 – 90 days isn’t nearly enough history.

It’s always more valuable to have a longer historical view of your marketing efforts.

The holiday and spring season is a perfect example of this.

Comparing how your Fall content performed against your summer content can lead to misinterpretations and false conclusions.

However, comparing your “last summer’s” content to your “this summer’s” content can allow you to find opportunities and improve incrementally.

A longer historical view can be provided with third party tools but with Facebook insights it’s limited to only three months and, that sucks.

Now it’s over to you, what have you noticed about the new Facebook insights, that sucks?


Published by

Emeric Ernoult

Emeric Ernoult is the co-founder of AgoraPulse, a Facebook Marketing Software company launched in 2011 and based in Paris and San Francisco. AgoraPulse is currently being used by more than 17,000 Facebook Pages across 137 countries.   Since 2000, he has been one of the European pioneers in the field of Social Media Marketing. He has advised French and international brands such as Virgin Megastores, FIA and Microsoft.   He is a regular speaker at International conferences such as the AllFAcebook Marketing Conference, Facebook Success Summit and BOLO. He is also an accredited instructor at the Online Marketing Institute.   Connect with Emeric Ernoult on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.