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Can Facebook’s Real Time Metrics Measure Your ROI More Effectively?

In early March, Facebook updated its Insights analytical tool so that it can now render statistics in real time. This has made it possible to see within minutes what the results of making a new post or adding a like button to a blog post has been. With the current focus on finding the metrics that indicate the ROI of social media marketing, will a real time analysis really tell you if you are getting bang for your buck from Facebook?

The difficulty of determining what sort of return you are getting from social media is that it tends to be a first click marketing tool. This means that a customer may be finding your business through Facebook, but when they come to make a purchase they are either coming directly to your website or else they are finding you via the search engines. The real value of social media marketing is raising brand awareness and generating traffic to your corporate website. The traffic that comes from Facebook is already being tracked by your websites’ own analytical tools and measuring brand awareness is a difficult task.

Facebook Insights was already providing analytical metrics on brand pages that showed the reach of individual posts at a glance, and included details of how many people had interacted with your posts and what sort of viral reach they had. The main criticism of these metrics is that while they give users some idea of how well many of their posts have been read, they tell them very little about what the reaction to those posts has been. In response to this, the Edge Rank Checker has expanded on many of the things that it tracks and it is now possible to chart the negative reaction to your posts along with their viral boost; however, these things still tell you very little about how your Facebook fan page is affecting your sales. Facebook Insights can let you know how many people have liked your website, but not how many of those likes have turned into sales conversions.

This dilemma isn’t new and most internet marketers would be using a third party analytics tool to track their conversion rates. Google Analytics already provides a full analysis of websites that tracks conversions as well as gives a comprehensive overview of the impact that social media is having on your traffic. With less information to analyze, it would seem that Facebook Insights’ ability to provide hard data on the direct effectiveness of social media marketing is limited. While it might be interesting to know how many people are talking about your posts or what their reach was, it is far more useful to know how many sales they are driving.

Social media marketing does lead to sales conversions, but it is very difficult to directly attribute them to a particular post on Facebook and the real time metrics that Insights is now offering haven’t made this any clearer. As a tool, this is much more useful for tailoring your posts and their timing to your targeted demographic audience, but for tracking the ROI of your social media marketing it is still much better to use an all encompassing analytical tool like Google Analytics. It may never be possible to pinpoint exactly how many sales are generated by social media marketing, but it is worth spending the time to increase the reach and engagement of the posts that you do make; and so, this new feature of Facebook Insights will certainly be useful to many businesses, but it doesn’t go a long way towards making the ROI from social media any clearer.

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