Thursday, February 25, 2010

Measuring Facebook Fan Pages & Apps

The popularity of Facebook is growing. With 400 million users spending an average of almost an hour per day on the site, marketers are clamoring to invest in advertisements, Facebook Fan pages, custom applications, contests and more.

However, the analytics capability of for Facebook is pretty limited. So marketers spending all this money on facebook have very little insight into how their fan pages are performing.
Earlier this week I saw a tweet (message on twitter) with a link to Google Analytics hack for measuring facebook fan pages. We tried this hack but it had too many bugs and after wasting 2 hours we gave up on that solution.

As we were struggling with the GA hack, I got an email from Webtrends announcing their Facebook Measurement Capability. So I guess that is going to be our solution for measuring Facebook fan pages and custom apps but I will have to wait and see if it will live up to the expectations.

Here are some screenshots of Webtrends Facebook measurement reports

Here is a press release from WebTrends

“The ability to have concrete measurement on investments within Facebook and compare them apples to apples with other digital channels is critical to marketers,” said Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, vice president of marketing, Webtrends. “Our comprehensive approach to measuring Facebook, beyond just applications, allows marketers to understand the broader picture of how their Facebook investment is performing.”

Webtrends can now show you how your tabs, apps, and share features are working.
A few examples are:
  • Twitter activity driving to Facebook Fan pages
  • Facebook Fan page activity overlaid with corporate blog posts
  • Conversion performance if they happen in Facebook
  • Custom applications, Facebook page tabs, and Facebook ad click performance
Webtrends believes Facebook is one of the key social channels for brands to invest in and these capabilities will help them validate those investments.

Webtrends Analytics for Facebook
Webtrends’ new Facebook measurement capabilities utilize Webtrends Analytics 9, which combines our powerful real-time analytics engine with its best-in-class user interface. For the first time, marketers can view their Facebook measurement alongside other digital marketing investments such as websites, microsites, blogs, mobile apps, and more. Additionally, using Analytics 9’s RSS overlay capabilities, marketers can easily see the impact of promotional efforts. Tracking custom tabs, applications, and sharing provides the most complete measurement of Facebook available in the market.

How Webtrends Analytics Collects Data on Custom Tabs
Custom tabs and applications have critical differences for data collection, due to Facebook’s Terms of Service and its commitment to user privacy.
  • Brands can’t use traditional analytics methods for tracking custom tabs because Facebook does not allow Javascript, and they aggressively cache images.
  • To overcome these limitations, Webtrends developed a new method that uses their data collection API to bring Facebook data into Webtrends Analytics.
  • In addition to tracking tab views, Webtrends can also measure:
    • Tab views segmented by fans and non-fans
    • Clicks on buttons and links, such as the Share button and its options

How Webtrends Analytics Collects Data on Facebook Applications
  • Applications allow more tracking options both because they allow Javascript and because the Facebook’s Terms of Service allows for collection of user level data.
  • Webtrends utilizes their Data Collection API to bring Facebook data into Webtrends Analytics.
  • Webtrends can measure any type of application built on the Facebook platform.

The Great Data Giveaway – A Demonstration of Webtrends’ Facebook Measurement Capabilities
To demonstrate their new capabilities, Webtrends created a prototype Facebook campaign called The Great Data Giveaway. Webtrends is using this campaign as a model for their customers’ reference.

“Marketers are wrestling with how to earn and prove ROI from social media marketing,” said Kaykas-Wolff. “We designed The Great Data Giveaway to not only demonstrate our new capabilities in action, but to also show marketers that social channels like Facebook can generate qualified leads.”

The campaign is a drawing for prizes that appeal to Webtrends’ target market, which are data prizes like ReadWriteWeb premium reports and InfoChimps’ Twitter Census Data.
  1. Webtrends created an application and placed it on a custom tab on Facebook to explain the contest details. KPIs: views segmented by fans and non-fans.
  2. The user becomes a fan first (known as a “fan-gate”), then allows the installation of the app in compliance with Facebook’s Terms of Service. KPIs: Rate of fan interest, number of installs.
  3. Once the app is installed, the user can enter the contest via a form driven by our Eloqua marketing automation system. KPIs: Entries, follow-up email opens, follow-up email conversions.
  4. The app allows users to post the contest info to their wall. KPIs: Number of shares.
  5. Webtrends marketing provides air-cover for the contest by mentioning it on Twitter and in blogs. KPIs: RSS overlay of promotion efforts on views (tab) and visits (application).

“We are so proactive in talking about Facebook measurement because it’s a critical area of growth for our customers. The new capabilities we have developed were shown at our recent user conference, Engage 2010, earlier this month, and we have several implementations underway,” said Kaykas-Wolff. “To meet their needs and keep up with the rate of change in this space, we have a series of capabilities we’re adding to Webtrends Analytics that will be released in the near term and ongoing basis.”

Webtrends Analytics 9 for Facebook Webinar
Webtrends will also host a Webinar in April discussing how companies can take advantage of Facebook measurement in Webtrends Analytics 9. For more information including registration, date and time, please visit us here.

If you are interested in seeing more about how you can measure Facebook in Webtrends Analytics, please visit our solutions page here


  1. Anil, first, thanks for the write up on our Facebook measurement. It's been a big push over the past couple of months and great to have it out there.

    The problem with the GA hack is that it relies on an image call to do the redirect to the tag. But, Facebook aggressively caches images, so it won't collect all of the data. We tested their FB page using Fiddler to track server calls and after a couple of page loads, it stopped sending data through the redirect, which was the cache kicking in.

    Our method is a new approach that doesn't rely on javascript or an image call. Some people have been trying the cache breaking method of changing the image name to stop FB from caching, but we opted not to go that route so FB doesn't try to fight our approach.

    Would love to show you more if you're interested.

  2. How is this compare to Omniture's faecbook app released 9 months ago?

  3. Wouldn't a better title have been "Using Webtrends to measure Facebook Fan Pages and Apps?" I was a little let down by the advertorial nature of this post given the way it was titled.

  4. Clark,

    I am sorry about the title, I see how it is misleading. I will keep this in mind for future posts.


  5. AwaySooner,

    No I have not looked in Omniture's facebook app.


  6. AwaySooner, perhaps I can offer some clarification. There are some differences between Omniture's Facebook app measurement and Webtrends'; but that's not what has people excited. Webtrends can now measure apps, tabs, and ads (with custom services, you can measure much more than that). The biggest news is that we have the first solution that fully measures custom tabs. Tabs have been the big challenge because you can't use Javascript and images are cached. Tabs are also where brands are spending their big dollars. Up till now, the performance of these tabs has been a black hole.


I would like to hear your comments and questions.