In a recent blog post and press conference, Facebook announced it would be changing the way several metrics are reported and even eliminating some of them. In the past, Facebook has had to admit to several mistakes that led to misreported metrics. Last year they were even called out for reporting reach numbers higher than deemed possible by census data. Marketers’ understandable lack of confidence surrounding the reported numbers is likely why Facebook has decided to take this action.
Below are some of the changes you’ll need to know and what they’ll mean for your social marketing goals.
The first major announcement came from a blog post in early February. Facebook stated they would be altering the way organic reach is measured to be more consistent with the way paid reach is measured:
[We] will update how we measure organic reach of Pages to be more consistent with the way we calculate reach for ads. This is a change in the way that we measure reach, not a change in News Feed distribution, and other engagement metrics will remain the same. This will provide Page owners with a more precise measurement of their audience and offer a more consistent measurement methodology across both our paid and organic reach reporting.
What will this mean for you? First, you will likely see a dip in your organic reach numbers. While Facebook previously measured organic reach by the number of times a post was delivered to a News Feed, it will now only measure the times it actually crossed a user’s screen.
Second, you’ll get a more accurate picture of who you’re actually reaching. While the numbers may seem lower, knowing exactly how many people really saw your post is far more valuable. It also creates a consistent standard of measurement between your organic and paid reach numbers.
It’s no secret that it’s been tough to trust Facebook’s metrics in the past. This has largely to do with the fact that many of them don’t come with an explanation of what they actually measure. Luckily, this announcement comes with the promise of more transparency, including introducing new ways to measure engagement and a robust labelling system that will inform marketers if a metric is “estimated” or “in development. It will also add more detailed descriptions that include how the metric is measured and suggest use-cases for each.
More transparency is always a good thing, and Facebook’s move to embrace it is a good indicator that they understand past frustration among marketers. This will likely be very helpful for you when determining which metrics will be of value to your organization.
In addition to adding new metrics, Facebook is scrapping some of its less useful offerings. The blog continues:
In July, we will remove approximately 20 ad metrics that marketers have told us are redundant, outdated, not actionable or infrequently used. For example, the social reach metric shows the number of people who saw an ad with social information above it, such as noting a friend who also likes a certain brand. We’ve heard from you that this metric isn’t meaningfully different from the reach metric, and we know that the insight drawn from it doesn’t indicate a business outcome.
This focus on what’s useful to marketers is encouraging. It shows that they are listening to what their business customers want. Instead of having to sort through a bunch of metrics that don’t seem to be useful, Facebook will instead make it easy by providing only information you want to know. So, you can spend more of your time reading through actionable insights rather than weeding through all the fluff you don’t need.
In addition to fine-tuning the types of metrics it measures, Facebook also announced an effort to educate business users on using them. It introduced a program, launching this month, called Measure What Matters. This program will seek to educate advertisers through in-person events, Facebook live event, and online content.
[It] will offer two tracks—one for advertisers focused on brand objectives and one for advertisers with direct response objectives. Each track will draw from research and analysis across creative planning, ad delivery, cross-channel measurement and video measurement…