Marketing - Advertising - Design

Facebook Analytics

In Online/Interactive, Research, Social Media on March 15, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Facebook has been notoriously difficult to measure because everything must run through them, so traditional methods don’t apply. From a site called Web Analytics Demystified, this may be helpful for those of us who are still getting a handle on all this research or on social media and Facebook in specific. Its part one of a 2-part series.

Facebook Analytics: Part I – The Measurable Ecosystem

2010 is shaping up to be the year of social media measurement and March is the month for measuring Facebook. While most of the major analytics vendors have been working on their Facebook measurement capabilities for some time; Webtrends, Coremetrics and Omniture all released significant advancements in their respective abilities to measure and analyze activity within the social networking juggernaut recently. These announcements created a frenzy of curiosity and confusion around what’s possible and what each vendor can deliver, so we were compelled to investigate. However, our inquiries exposed a world of complexity in terms of what’s measurable according to the emerging Facebook rules and exactly how organizations would benefit from measuring behavior within the walled social networking ecosystem.

In this first part of our two part series on Facebook Analytics, we will dissect the Facebook ecosystem of pages, tabs, applications, advertisements, and Facebook Connect functionality to reveal the do’s and don’ts of tracking visitor activity. While it may seem straightforward, some areas of the ecosystem are off limits to traditional tracking, while other areas can be measured with a high degree of detail. But in all cases, 3rd party measurement solutions must play by the Facebook rules, which we’ll begin to describe here. In Part II of this series, we’ll lay out a framework for how businesses can derive value from measuring their efforts within Facebook and we’ll take a deep dive into the specific capabilities of vendors that offer solutions for measuring Facebook today.

The Facebook Ecosystem

The Facebook ecosystem is comprised of many parts, some of which can be customized while others may not. This section will offer a brief description of each component within the ecosystem.

Facebook Page & Tabs

Facebook Tabs
Facebook “Pages” form the skeleton of each company’s presence on Facebook. Within the pages are a series of “tabs” with default (i.e., mandatory) tabs as well as customization opportunities. Default tabs include: the Wall and Info tabs, but additional standard tabs may include Photos, Discussion, Videos, Events, Boxes, etc. In addition to the standard tabs, Custom tabs within Facebook are plentiful. Yet, none of the tabs within Facebook can be measured using traditional JavaScript web analytics tags. This presents huge measurement challenges despite the fact that tabs offer massive opportunity for businesses to create compelling user experiences within Facebook. Mashable did a nice write-up last summer of Killer Facebook Fan Pages, which will give you a good idea of some of the customization possibilities.

Facebook Applications

Applications on Facebook can be developed using a variety of coding languages including PHP, JavaScript, Ruby or Python and Facebook even provides Client Libraries for their API. Applications must be hosted outside of Facebook and they can be stand-alone apps or embedded within custom tabs. Because apps can be developed using standard code, tracking with traditional web analytics methods is possible. It’s important to note that all applications require permission to track data about users (more on this in the next section). More than 500,000 applications are available on Facebook today so clearly they’re popular. Developers can learn more about The Anatomy of an App here.

Click here to go to the site and read more of Facebook Analytics Demystified.

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