Improving Metric Gathering on Facebook

Written By Jonathan Towell

Historically, tracking users’ behavior on Facebook tabs has been tough if not impossible. Google Analytics and other stat tracking platforms did not work with Facebook’s tab publishing platform, Facebook Markup Language (FBML). Recently, Facebook changed tabs from FBML to iFrames, allowing new possibilities for tracking.

Because I'm such a fan of Google Analytics, I'm going to give you a few ideas for interesting and helpful metrics you can now gather on Facebook. Keep in mind that Google Analytics works the same as most other metrics gathering platforms. While we at Smooth Fusion have not tested these methods with other tracking packages, they should in theory apply in the same way.

Although rudimentary metrics gathering is already available through Facebook’s Insights feature, Google Analytics provides more in-depth information. Three incredibly useful opportunities that are now available are:

  • Enhanced “share” tracking

  • User interaction tracking

  • Audience tracking

Enhanced “Share” Tracking

Insights provides basic statistics such as number of active users and the number of times application content was shared, but only on Facebook.

Google Analytics allows you to perform Event Tracking. Event Tracking can be a variety of things, but we like to use it for tracking clicks and mouseovers. For example, we might use Event Tracking to track sharing to any social network. When someone clicks a Share link for Facebook, Twitter, or anything else, we can track it in Google Analytics.

User Interaction Tracking

Google Analytics’ Event Tracking is also used to track clicks on links or buttons and in this case, you can track clicks within the application. For example, we recently created a Facebook tab that displays products in a carousel. When users click the products, they are displayed above the carousel. In this scenario, Event Tracking could be used to determine how many times each of those products was clicked. This would equip marketers with the ability to know which of their products were most popular among Facebook users.

Audience Tracking

Sometimes you want to categorize your metrics by audience. Let's say, for example, that you manage a university website. The site has several target audiences such as prospective students, current students, and alumni. You could infer which audience the user fits into based on what actions they take on the site. For example, you could conclude that someone clicking the "Enroll Now" button is a prospective student. Google Analytics allows you to define audiences and track metrics per audience with Visitor Level, Custom Variable tracking.

In the same way, we can now track audiences on Facebook applications. We recently built a Facebook tab application that allowed users to take a quiz. The quiz had certain questions that indicated the user's audience type (e.g. "Are you a new or existing customer?") We could use Custom Variable tracking to report this information to Google Analytics and the resulting reports would tell us something like 23% of people who use this application are new customers.

Metric tracking packages like Google Analytics have, for a long time, given us ways to improve user experiences and gather business information from traditional websites. Now those same benefits are available on Facebook applications.

Smooth Fusion is custom web and mobile development company and leading Progress Sitefinity CMS Partner. We create functional, usable, secure, and elegant software while striving to make the process painless for our customers. We offer a set of core services that we’ve adapted and refined for more than 250 clients over our 17 years in business. We’ve completed more than 1700 projects across dozens of industries. To talk to us about your project or review our portfolio, send us a message and one of our project managers will reach out to you quickly.