3 Facebook Metrics That Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean

Facebook Metrics Meanings Confused

[NOTE: Master all of the metrics that matter and sign up for my Insights training course.]

There are dozens of Facebook metrics. Even the most popularly used metrics are largely misunderstood (make sure you check out this glossary of terms!).

This is especially the case for admins whose source of metrics knowledge is within posts or within web Insights only. I encourage you to look beyond these surface level metrics and dig into your exports — this is where marketing gold is found!

Access this data by clicking the “Export Data” button within your web Insights.

Facebook Insights Export

So here are a few of the metrics you are probably currently butchering, along with their actual meanings and the metrics you are looking for…

Total Reach or Organic Reach

The Reach metric is the most unnecessarily obsessed over while also misunderstood. It’s so misunderstood and confused that admins are confusing multiple metrics while none of them mean what they think they do.

Two of these metrics are Total Reach and Organic Reach. Total Reach can also be expressed as “[X number] people saw this post” under posts on your Page.

Facebook People Saw This Post

What You Think It Means: You think that Total Reach, [X number] People Saw This, and Organic Reach all tell you the number of Fans who saw a post. News Flash: They don’t!

What It Actually Means: Total Reach (or [X number] People Saw This) tells you the total number of people who saw a post. That includes Fans and non-Fans, and it also means reaching people with and without ads. It means reaching people within their News Feeds, on your Page and as shared by friends. The key word here is “TOTAL.”

Organic Reach is the number of unique users (Fans or non-Fans) who saw your Page post in News Feed, Ticker or on your Page. Organically, of course, and not as the result of an ad.

What You Probably Want: If you want to know the number of your Fans you reached with a post, you need to dig into your Post Level Export. The name of this metric is “Lifetime Post Reach by People Who Like Your Page” and it is in column X of the Key Metrics tab.

Facebook Fan Reach

Of course, if you’ve been whining about your Total Reach being under 16% of your total Fan base, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. This number will be even lower!

Also note that if you want to dig even more into your Fan-only data, there are seven columns of data there for you to discover!

People Talking About This

Everyone knows about the People Talking About This metric because it’s displayed immediately under your Cover Photo.

Facebook People Talking About This

What You Think It Means: You think this is the number of people sharing, commenting on and liking your Page content. Oh, it includes those actions. But it’s more than that!

What It Actually Means: This is the number of people generating stories about your Page during the past week. So this includes post comments, likes and shares. But it also includes Page likes, check-ins, event RSVPs, Offer claims, mentioning your Page and writing on your Timeline.

The Page Talking About This metric isn’t necessarily terrible. But it’s easy to manipulate with ads (especially driving a lot of Likes), and it doesn’t focus on post quality, which is likely what you’re looking for.

What You Probably Want: What you probably want is Lifetime Talking About this on a post-level basis, and it can be found within your Post Level Export. The total count can be found in column Q of the Key Metrics tab, but you can get a breakdown (Comments, Likes, Shares) within the Lifetime Talking About This tab.

Facebook Post Comment Like Share

Unfortunately, there isn’t a Talking About This metric for all posts, but only on a post-by-post basis.

Post Clicks

This is a new metric that is found only within web Insights under Posts.

Facebook Post Clicks

What You Think It Means: You think it’s link clicks. Nope!

What It Actually Means: This is the total number of clicks on a post, not including comments, likes and shares. So this includes every other type of click you can imagine (photo view, video play, reporting spam, expanding to read a post, expanding to read comments, clicking profiles within comments, etc.).

What You Probably Want: You want Link Clicks! This is a very valuable metric that is buried within the Post Level Export under Consumers and Consumptions. Look under the Lifetime Post Consumers by Type and Lifetime Post Consumptions by Type tabs. In each case, column I is for Link Clicks. That’s your baby!

Facebook Consumptions

Consumptions is a great metric to get to know. It’s my favorite metric because it allows me to dig through just how valuable engagement on a post was, separating fluff from substance.

Your Turn

What metrics do you confuse — or do you find other marketers regularly confuse?

Let me know in the comments below!

  • Adam Gerber

    I think link clicks is in itself a little misleading. Facebook should call it “(some) link clicks” since security settings on individual’s profiles limits how these get tracked. Using an external URL shortener like bit.ly helps here.

    I’m also at a loss for what to do with the social impressions, social clicks, social CTR. I know what they mean, but I’m not really sure how to use them. Some posts get high PTAT but the social CTR doesnt necessarily correspond. Any advice?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I can’t be much help here, Adam. I pretty much ignore social stats, at least in terms of being something actionable.

    • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

      Hi Adam

      Social metrics are great to track performance in industries where WOM is key. It also works great if for example you know your target audience to be very…”social” (e.g.: teenagers, Star Wars nerds like myself, etc…)

      In the case you mention, you could have a high PTAT and low Social CTR if, for example, your second degree audience (friends of followers) are not very keen to follow what others are saying in fear they could be associated to an ideology or lifestyle. I’ve found this with some cases, but the most interesting one was the owner of a page associated with a website for adult sexual encounters, who had exactly the same problem you mention. Finding the reason behind his problem (and fixing it) required to go beyond Facebook and do some human behavior analysis.

      You may have given me a good topic for a blog post…thank you!

  • reallifesarah

    I always get confused between “People Talking About This” And “Engaged Users.” Is there a difference?

    • Adam Gerber

      the simplest way to think of these is that engagement is about people engaging and PTAT is about people talking. when they engage, it can be a private thing (like clicking a link) or public thing (like sharing or liking).

      but, when someone talks about something, its inherently public and gets seen by others (so, likes, comments, shares and certain link clicks only). In this regard, PTAT is the same as the number of people making stories on their friends news feeds about your post. I hope that helps!

      • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

        What Adam said!

  • http://www.twirp.ca/ Anita Hovey

    Ok WHEW. I read a headline like that and think “oh crap”, but I was good this time. Thanks for explaining!

  • Joanna Gasdogas

    Thank you Jon for posting this. I was asking myself the same questions just today! What a coincindence. Why is facebook trying to confuse people? I think they are trying to get more and more Promoted Posts.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      They aren’t trying to confuse people, Joanna. They give people a bite-sized, easy to consume area to view some of their stats. Those stats are only the top level of the top level. People need to dig beyond that.

  • reallifesarah

    Also, it seems that the total reach – “[X number] people saw this post” under posts on your Page” does not take into account viral reach? FB routinely says that organic reach is 100% of our reach, and we may have 200-1,000 shares for that post.

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    Some good explanations. Luckily everything I assumed was right! :P Also I doubt most are ever exporting their insights. I think I’ve done this once ever on a page. But I’m not a numbers guy so maybe that’s just me. Downloading it made me angry because it was too many numbers! I closed it and moved on to watching cat videos..

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Man, Scott. Honestly, if you’re serious about your Facebook marketing (which I know you are), I don’t know how you ignore those exports. You don’t need to look at all of the stats. You don’t need to look at them all that often. But there are so many valuable stats in there that you can’t get from your web Insights that it’s pretty darn important.

      In particular: Fan only stats and Consumptions (which includes link clicks). The funny thing about the fan only stats is that I’d say 99% of people complaining about their fan only stats have never looked at them.

      • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

        Yeah I think that stuff is hidden so deep most page owners have never heard of it. And most probably don’t want or need that deep of analytics. I’m not a numbers guy so I know for me personally I’d never dig into it that deep likely. Just talking about it gives me hives I think!

  • http://www.OnlineMarketingIntro.com monicamcpherrin

    This was so helpful. I did have some of it confused. I’m going to print this out and study it until I’ve committed it to memory. By then Facebook will have changed everything again and it won’t matter…lol

  • Mark Leo

    As often happens when I read an article about Facebook, I follow along doing each step in the article – and lo and behold, my Facebook is different. In this case, I downloaded the Excel file and the only column that has the word Lifetime is “Lifetime Total Likes”. In column X is “Daily Viral Reach”. I went through all the columns one by one and none match the description like the one you have pictured. I also opened every tab in the workbook – nada. The only one that comes close is “Daily Organic Reach” [The number of people who visited your Page, or saw your Page or one of its posts in news feed or ticker. These can be people who have liked your Page and people who haven’t. (Unique Users)], the difference being that it includes folks who haven’t Liked my page. Fortunately I have gotten used to daily Facebook frustration – just wish one day could be hassle free.
    Overall, I focus on engagement and sort of judge progress and success by the amount of conversation generated.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Mark — You’re looking at the Page Level Export, not Post Level.

      • Mark Leo

        Oy, see, I knew it would be me. Thanks.

  • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Another metric I find my clients confuse a lot is Engagement. Most of them think of Engagment as “PTAT”. This especially affects some B2B pages, where they have a very low PTAT (you know, business people always bussy…) but they get surprised when I tell them they have a very high Engagement. They don’t undertand that clicking on images, links, etc… even if it doesn’t generate a story, it also counts as Engagement (although clearly the viral factor is very low)

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Yep! That was originally part of this article, but it was too similar to PTAT (also on this list), so I left it off. Definitely one that gets people!

  • Archie

    Looking forward to the metrics course, when do you think it will be available?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Shooting for end of the month, Archie! Like with the Power Editor course, it will likely be available on pre-pay first.

      • Keith James

        I’m looking forward to this training as well. I’ll listen for the announcement on the podcast.

  • Elizabeth Bray

    I really enjoyed reading this article, this was very helpful. Thanks for sharing it.. http://www.linkagoal.com

  • Lenny

    I would like to know what in the world video plays for a link post ad means. Could it be that those actions stats capture whatever activity one person clicking the ad performs for the whole day? crazy!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I believe Facebook measures the video plays that this person made with your content, not just that post.

      • Lenny

        ocpm has gone wild lately, sometimes near 20 bucks. insane!

  • Julian_Adorney

    Thanks for the post Jon! This was very helpful. I’ve suspected that Facebook’s top 3 metrics weren’t what I thought they were, but this helped clarify. The ‘Post Clicks’ part was especially helpful; I didn’t realize it could include clicking to see More Comments, clicking on a commenter’s profile, clicking Read More, etc.

    I’m starting a Facebook page for my new company in a couple weeks, and I’ll definitely export the metrics and dig into them. No more being fooled by ‘Talking About This’ or ‘Post Clicks’.

    That said, exporting the metrics seems like it uses a lot of math and complex numbers. Are there 3-4 key metrics you’d recommend Facebook page managers really focus on?

  • sara

    i’ve always disliked using ‘talking about this’ on page level as a metric for engagement when page likes are included! must better to dig deeper into post level stats for more insights into what posts are and are not engaging fans and whether your organic reach had any influence on this (ive found the last few months my organic reach per post has been dropping – has this happened to anyone else?)

  • Jen Picard

    Great article, Jon – that export can be quite intimidating when you first look at it, so it’s great to see some information on what to look at, and what it means! I’ve added this article to my weekly round-up of epically awesome social media blog posts so more people can benefit from your excellent advice: http://www.meltwater.com/social-media-blog/this-weeks-epically-awesome-social-media-blog-posts-101113/

  • Naught

    This is an incredibly helpful explanation of this data, thank you! I especially appreciate the tips on of how to use export data, as I usually just look at the graphs and numbers directly on the Insights dashboard without exporting. Looks like I was throwing away a lot of good data breakdown!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Lots of great info in those hard to use exports, Naught!

  • Robin Coleman

    Hi Jon, A little late to the Insight party but hope you or a passing fan could help. Having built up a good sized and international fan base for my employer I’m now looking into reasons for the page’s popularity. Exporting a past month’s insights report is overwhelming and confusing. I really need to know what the difference is between the stats for Daily, Weekly and Past 28 Days is. If all 3 reports show me the individual days of the past month what do these numbers actually mean?? For instance, Page Unlikes for the same date has 3 different numbers on these Excel tabbed reports. Should I ignore the Weekly and 28 Days versions. Any advice??

    • Robin Coleman

      After some Google trawling I’ve found the answer at http://blog.digitalinsights.in/the-ultimate-guide-to-facebook-insights/05118987.html

      “Looking at the ‘Daily Total Reach’ for 29th Dec 2013 is 65, When you want to look at the weekly reach till 29th Dec, it would be read as Weekly Unique Reach from 23rd -29th Dec. On a Similar basis, the 28 Days Total Reach would be from 2nd to 29th
      December people who have viewed the Page/Page Posts or any other Page
      content (disregarding duplicate visits during that tenure and only
      counting individual counts).”

  • Demian Manzur

    Damned… I found very confused to find the Total Reach in a Page Level Data. Maybe we can think that adding all Daily Total Reach in a certain period it will give the Total Reach… BUT NO! That number is very uncertain.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      You’ll reach the same people multiple times. You can’t add these things.

      • Demian Manzur

        For sure. So there’s a lot of marketers out there saying “we had 26K unique visitors this month” or “We reached 20K people this month” and that’s not true. They are confusing the term.

  • Claire Chesneau

    I need a business card that says “Don’t ask me, I’m only a Batty Old Dear, ask Jon Loomer instead….’. It appears that UK FB Pagers are mostly flying blind at the moment!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hah! It’s not just the UK. Pretty common!

  • Isaac Broberg

    What I don’t understand is how I have a post with a reach of 3, yet shows I have 56 engaged in the pink color – Liked, Comments, Shares. That doesn’t seem possible to me.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I’m guessing this is a cover photo. Regardless, trust stats other than reach whenever in doubt. It’s often wrong.

      • Isaac Broberg

        Well, it was a post and now its showing stats which look more like normal. I’m out of the country so I’m going to rack it up to some server delay. I’m going to start digging into the other stats as you suggest.

  • Danielle

    Oh my goodness! You have just opened my eyes to a whole new useful world – page level data. Thank you!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      My work here is done!

  • R Held

    Hi, does anyone know if Facebook’s post engagement stats from a news feed paid for post ad include engagement that comes from the viral shares of that ad? So for example, if I spent $100 and saw 50 clicks… are those 50 clicks only from people who saw the ad via the sponsored post, or does it also include clicks from those people who clicked on shared “viral” versions of that ad post? I am curious to know if my cpc is $2, or if it is lower because of the shares, and I am unaware of it.

  • NeighbRyPY

    Sorry, I’m a little late in this conversation. I’m wondering what tabs/columns, etc would be a better use if I want to capture/or report on a 6 month bases rather than montly? Would the option of “Lifetime…etc” work better or the “28 days…etc”? Also, does anyone know if insights can break down the data into more detail about demographics? For example, insight is able to pull overall data on age, gender, city, etc…but does not pull (or at least I can’t find) age and gender in a specific city. Any help would be great. Thanks!

  • Fianka

    Hi, do you have any idea what means “other clicks”?

  • bgravemeister

    This post is incredibly helpful! The only question I have is this: When talking about Post Clicks and finding the valuable Link Click metric, there is listed in the post export Lifetime post CONSUMPTIONS by type and CONSUMERS by type. I know consumers are the subject referenced under the consumptions terms, but I’m confused that not only does there lie an apparent differentiation between each, but I actually have different numbers showing for each of those aforementioned tabs (for columns I, link clicks, and J, other clicks) on most posts. What’s the difference between each tab that actually can effect the numbers?

  • Brittydo

    I was wondering if the city in “Lifetime Likes by City” is the home town reported to Facebook, or if it is based on an IP address (this could make a big difference in my line of work). Any articles or reports you have to back the answer up would also be greatly appreciated.

  • ronmartin05

    I was working with a guy named Brad at results driven marketing for our companys PPC, i was really happy when they fired his ass or moved him off our account but we ended up seeing good ROI on our product feed after that I would suggest you hitup Simon at [email protected] really standup character he’s the bizdev guy but really knows his stuff they should be able to help you out. Tell them Ron Martin at liberty advisors sent you and maybe they’ll buy me lunch if you work with them!

  • sdwr75

    I wrote a popular paranormal book, and placed a two day facebook add for my book at a total of $60.00. On my FB page it says 17,500 saw my page. Not one person liked my page. Does 17,500 saw my page really mean that the add was placed into the news feed of 17,500 people? Or does it mean that 17500 people clicked on my add?

  • http://mapleleafcountry.com/ Maple Leaf Country

    Jon, this is a very informative post and it was very useful. Thank you!

    I do have one question in my mind, it would be great if anyone can answer it.


    I took the data export (post level), and under the sheet name ‘Lifetime Talking About This’ I can see one of my posts has 3 comments, 8 likes and 2 shares.

    But if I go back to my facebook page, I cant see any of the comments or likes or shares for that post. Why is that?

    • Margaret Mariela Consuela Brit

      Yes, I get that as well. I would love an answer to this question from any experts out there.

  • Nic’O

    what does the number of users on an app page mean to you Jon? Many thanks! Nic

  • Megan Riggs

    There is a new column referred to as “other” in the 2nd tab of the post level report (Lifetime Talking About this tab). What is that referring to?

  • Cheri

    My insights are showing 14 shares from one day, but those posts don’t show shares at all. Those posts are showing “other clicks”. I’m referring to HTML version of insights, not the exported data. Help!

  • John Rizzo

    They don’t show this anymore: “Post Level Export under Consumers and Consumptions. Look under the
    Lifetime Post Consumers by Type and Lifetime Post Consumptions by Type

  • Chris Mikulin

    Sorry for the necro post, but I have a question with regards to Link Clicks, does FB count the number of Link Clicks for the posts that were shared? Or for only the original post?

  • Chris Mikulin

    With regards to my last question about Link Clicks counting for shared posts, I did some clicking on a post I shared to myself and I believe they go to Other Clicks.

  • Iliana Pacheco

    Hi Jon, I know you didn’t mention this in your post, but I am trying to analyze the sum of our lifetime total fans and daily friends of fans. But when I export the data from facebook there is no data for “Daily Friends of Fans” — is this at all possible that we have no data for that? Every single other data point has at least a “0” if there wasn’t any engagement, but nothing for the “Daily Friends of Fans”

  • https://twitter.com/jasmineharde Jasmine Harde

    Is it possible that Daily Engaged User is higher than total reach due to paid activity?

  • eastbayray

    Thanks for this – just came across it. I’m trying to find post data by day so I can track insights over time. Is there something that shows this as opposed to “lifetime” data? I guess I could do exports covering every single day, but that sounds like a lot of effort for something that should be trackable. Thoughts?

  • Davor Skeledzija

    Great article. BUT why is then “post reach” so different on my post? If it is only info how often post has been displayed on users screen – it shouldn’t be so different because number of fans is always very similar (and their friends).

  • carriejsimon

    Hi Jon, would you be willing to update this post? I’ve noticed Facebook has altered its Insights and moved around a lot of the metrics. For instance, I can’t find Lifetime Post Reach by People Who Like Your Page OR Lifetime Total Post Reach anymore.

  • Tara

    Viral shares on Facebook. I don’t understand what that means.

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  • Harry Lilly
  • Sandeep Sandy
  • Sangeet

    is there a way to directly fetch ‘POST CLICKS’ into database via API, or which column in exports exactly replicated the number ‘POST CLICKS’ (post clicks, This is a new metric that is found only within web Insights under Posts.)

  • Luke Starfish

    Hi – I find the post views/photo view insights little confusing. I would like to know how many unique user clicks on my posts. When I upload multiple photos in a post includes every time a person clicks through the photos (I think!?! – correct me if I’m wrong). I would like to know unique users who click on my post – so I can see see a more accurate engagement rate. Is such an insight available?

  • Saurabh Kashyap

    Actually I am in a little confusion about who visited my facebook profile the most. Actually the case is if I am visiting someone’s profile daily and they in turn are opening up my profile daily to see who visited them. Does that means that profile will come up as the most visited profile on my page source Or are they actually visiting my profile the most ,irrespective of me visiting their profile or not. I hope you understand what I mean to say.

  • Debbie

    What does TM after a comment mean?

  • Anonymous

    Does it count my visits to my page (clicks, tab views, etc) in those metrics? And if I haven’t shared or posted or promoted anything on my page in 6 years, why is there suddenly so much reach and people engaged?

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