Demystifying Facebook’s “People Are Talking About This” Metric
Earlier this week Facebook announced features and functionality that were mainly geared toward pages and ads. One of the newest metrics released is the “people are talking about this” for pages. The goal of this number is to track conversations happening around specific pages. However, we have seen more users becoming confused as to what the number is than being helped by it.
“### Are Talking About This”
Here’s where Facebook users will see the new metric showing up on Facebook pages, such as our own SMX page:
In reaching out to Facebook, we received answers about how both users and pages can extract value from this new metric and will break down exactly what “people talking about this” is meant to do.
Breakdown Of The “People Are Talking About This” Number
The “people are talking about this” number is pulled from a variety of interactions that can occur on Facebook over the past seven days. The number is refreshed daily and will be much more clear in the newest version of Facebook Insights, which appears to have started rolling out yesterday (more on this below).
If you have access to the new Insights page, a full tab dedicated to “people talking about this” will exist:
A Facebook spokesperson described the metric’s freshness to us:
“This metric refreshes daily but goes back a week. So it’s the current barometer of how much conversation is being generated by someone’s Page on Facebook. It’s a good gauge of the content Pages are putting up and how to generate more conversations around a Page.”
The different interactions that make up the “people talking about this” metric are any stories (formerly “posts”) that users share in their timeline. This includes:
- liking a Page
- posting to a Page’s Wall
- liking, commenting on or sharing a Page post (or other content on a page, like photos, videos or albums)
- answering a Question posted
- RSVPing to an event
- mentioning a Page in a post
- phototagging a Page
- liking or sharing a check-in deal
- or checking in at a Place.
From A User Perspective
One of the most surprising things we noticed about this new metric was the implementation without much explanation for standard users. One day this week, the un-clickable number just popped up underneath the total page likes. Personally, I would have expected at least a link to public posts about Search Engine Land (must be logged in to see results) underneath this metric to add in some explanation.
When talking to Facebook about how this metric will benefit the average user, we were told:
“We made this metric public because it provides user value: as with the Fan number, people visiting a Page and seeing this metric can at a glance get a good sense of whether this Page is active and engaging based on the number of people talking about it.”
To me, more explanation around this is needed. I think this stat can be a valuable tool to show users what pages are fresh, what pages have great posts and who has strong communities. However I’m afraid that the average user won’t understand the metric’s value in its current state.
From A Page Owner Perspective
Right now many Facebook page admins are probably thinking “Great, another Facebook stat to track.” Don’t fear!
This new metric should really enhance your page analytics by not only showing articles with the most reach, but also those that share and interact.
The new Insights will feature an additional column titled “Virality” that helps to measure the reach of a post against those talking about it. This metric will be created by taking the “People Talking About This Number” and dividing it by the Reach of a post.
We won’t have a full grasp as to just how much information will be shown on this stat until the new Insights is rolled out, but it looks quite promising.
We also asked why Page admins should pay attention to this metric and how it can help them manage a page. A Facebook spokesperson said:
“The goal of Pages Insights for Page admins is to understand what drives that number and how they can best engage their advocates, so that they can get a sense of how to optimize their Page content to increase the people they’re reaching with their messages. Which means that no matter the size of your Page’s audience, you can really get a good sense for which posts spread and get shared with others.”
Additionally, as of last night, Facebook began notifying admins that this new metric was coming and helped to clarify its importance:
The new Facebook Insights looks to be rolling out now as an alert appeared late last night. The link to the new Insights wasn’t operational, but look for that to change over the next few days: