Missing Facebook Metrics

As more and more companies are creating Facebook brand fan pages, Facebook's shortcomings in the area of metrics are becoming more significant. Although Facebook Insights offers information as to how many fans are receiving and possibly engaging in feeds from pages, Facebook offers virtually no metrics to companies trying to acquire more fans.

In the non-Facebook world, companies can measure how many people see an ad, how many click through to a web site, how many come to a web site from sources other than the ad, what people do on the site, and how many return. Companies can split-test ads, landing pages, and more to determine the best mix of content, presentation, and exposure to not only attract people to a site but to retain them.

On Facebook, however, there are no metrics that provide information on the number of or demographics of people visiting fan pages. Only once people become fans do the metrics kick in. (In fact, it's explicitly against the Facebook rule of service to try to track page visitors.)

So, what should Facebook marketers do? Basically, the same thing we did with old media - use inference. Keep statistics of activities that we hope are driving people to our fan page and keep statistics of how many people become fans. Then analyze presumed cause-and-effect relationships without knowing the intermediate numbers (of page visitors). It's an imperfect world, but given that Facebook is becoming an important media on which companies should have a presence, we have to work within the boundaries set for us.

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