On the surface, Facebook Analytics looks like any other analytics tool.
All of the pretty graphs and charts have that familiar analytics-y feel, plus Facebook’s descriptions would fit perfectly with any analytics provider. There’s jargon about “data-driven strategy,” “discovering the insights that help you reach your business goals,” and getting “a deeper understanding of where and how people interact with your business.”
But even if it sometimes appears like a clone of its analytics peers, Facebook Analytics and the Facebook Analytics app are indeed unique in the analytics ecosystem.
This post will hit on the key aspects of Facebook Analytics:
- How it’s better (and not better) than other analytics tools
- What’s up with the new Facebook Analytics app
- What these tools looks like in action
- How they fit into the larger Facebook marketing ecosystem
What is Facebook Analytics?
Facebook Analytics measures lots of the same fun data that other analytics platforms do – page views, peak traffic times, visitor demographics, and more. That said, Facebook Analytics distinguishes itself by offering a clearer picture of how your Facebook ads and Facebook page impact your business.
Facebook Analytics can be found alongside these other Facebook goodies:
Facebook Analytics is available to anyone who has a Facebook Business Manager account, and whose website has the Facebook Pixel installed.
That’s a lot of jargon. Let’s try again with pictures.
It’s also where you create your target groups…
And upload photos and create copy for ads…
Okay, so that’s Business Manager, where Facebook Analytics lives.
Meanwhile, it’s the Facebook Pixel that collects data from your website and gets it into analytics. This pixel is essentially a snippet of code that Facebook uses to sync activity on your website with your different Facebook touchpoints – your ads, your page, your lookalike audiences, etc.
Within your Business Manager account, you can find your Facebook Pixel ID here:
If you use Shopify, you can ensure that you are collecting Facebook data by simply pasting your pixel ID into the “Facebook Pixel ID” section in Online Store → Preferences.
What Does Facebook Analytics Do?
In some ways, Facebook Analytics isn’t so different from Google Analytics, which is the industry leader in free analytics solutions.
Here, for example, is what it looks like when you log in:
You see “New Users” and “Median Session Length” and “Top Landing Pages” and “Traffic Sources” and lots of other stuff that you’d expect to see in Google Analytics.
Facebook can also show you which operating systems your visitors use, what language they speak, and other data point that get entrepreneurs excited.
Over in the Facebook Analytics App, you’re invited to customize the data you see the first time you log in:
Within a couple minutes, that blank screen can be transformed into this:
In short, Facebook’s analytics tools will feel familiar to anyone who has poked around in any other analytics tool. The interface is far from breathtaking, but all in all it’s pretty simple to get around and unearth details about your visitors and customers.
How Is It Different Than Google?
As we’ve seen, the Facebook Analytics isn’t some new species of analytics. Plus, uh, Google Analytics has an app, too.
So why should we care about Facebook and its analytics app?
Well, it definitely does some stuff that other tools don’t.
First and foremost: It has seamless integrations with the Facebook channels that you use to promote your website and products.
And in this case, “seamless integrations” isn’t just marketing speak. It’s the honest truth.
When you capture data about your Facebook campaigns with Google Analytics, there are two very distinct systems interacting. Facebook on the one hand, Google on the other.
Sure, it’s possible to record Facebook data with non-Facebook tools. With Google, for instance, you can enlist the “Campaign Builder” to insert additional information into your URL.
So when we push this post on Facebook, we could use Campaign Builder to do something like this:
This additional info will tell Google Analytics where to attribute user behavior from people who come via that Facebook link. As a result, you’ll know which Facebook campaigns led to the most page views, purchases, etc.
Pretty cool. But compared to Facebook Analytics, this isn’t an integration. It’s a workaround.
If you create a Facebook ad or push something on your Facebook page, then all of the ensuing engagement is automatically tracked in Facebook Analytics. Without any extra code attached to the URL.
Now, in the same way that Google is limited when it comes to collecting data about your Facebook campaigns, Facebook isn’t perfect at collecting data from your Google campaigns. If, for example, you’re running AdWords campaigns, then the native integrations that Google Analytics has with Google AdWords will definitely make your life simpler.
But when you use Facebook Analytics, your Facebook ads and Facebook page are in lockstep with your analytics tool. And thanks to the Facebook Analytics app, all this valuable data is available on the go.
Part of the Bigger Facebook Ecosystem
Lots of the surface level data that you get from Facebook Analytics is indeed available in Google Analytics. No denying that.
But there is plenty of stuff going on in your marketing mix that is either more difficult or absolutely impossible to track with Google Analytics.
For example, Facebook Analytics lets you merge the goings-on of your store with what’s happening on your Facebook Page. So if you have been churning out organic content on Facebook, Facebook Analytics can determine which of your posts are generating the most sales at your store.
To look at your Facebook page analytics, all you do is uncheck the Facebook pixel, and check your Facebook page.
Facebook Analytics for your Facebook page looks a lot like what you see for your store. Page views, demographics data, and so on.
You can also merge your pixel and your page. When we do that, we get data about overall engagement with your business. In analytics speak, this merged view “removes silos” and give you a “holistic view.” (Sorry if that buzzword soup made you queasy.)
Incredibly, Instagram data is not available in Facebook Analytics. Why Facebook hasn’t yet integrated data from its $100 billion platform is not clear, but it would seem that they’ll get around to it someday. To find Instagram data, you’ll need to use Instagram Insights.
Anyway, back to what is available. Here are a couple more features that highlight Facebook’s analytics/marketing combo:
You can create cohorts to measure the impact of your marketing efforts over time. You choose an action, and then observe how people who take that action behave over time.
Indeed Google Analytics and other analytics tools have cohort analyses. However, given all of the interactions you’ll have with your customers on Facebook properties – properties that aren’t tracked by Google – Facebook cohorts can be particularly valuable. Here’s how Facebook explains it:
How many people view content on your website, then purchase? Or, since Facebook Analytics can integrate other Facebook marketing tools like Messenger and Pages, you could create a cohort around clicking a CTA from your Messenger bot, and making a purchase.
Google won’t have any idea about how your customers interacted with your Facebook page or Messenger bot.
Launched in May 2018, Journeys is a relatively new feature that taps into Facebook’s ubiquity on different devices. The idea is to “understand the impact of different channels people use and identify patterns in behaviors that lead to conversions.”
How does that look in real life? Well maybe people who engage with a Facebook page post are more likely to head over to your store and buy something. Or maybe people who hit you up on Messenger have a higher average order value than those who don’t. Journeys lets you unearth these connections over time and across devices. Or as Facebook puts it:
Even if someone researches your product on your Android or iOS app but ends up purchasing the product from your website on a desktop computer, you can still use Facebook Analytics to understand the actions people are taking across different channels.
Finally, you can analyze your Facebook Shop. Big and small, more and more stores are incorporating shopping features directly into their Facebook pages. Sometimes that takes the form of a “Shop Now” button, like on Tommy Hilfiger’s page:
That button leads people to Tommy’s store, where the Facebook pixel is eagerly waiting to record any and all activity, and feed it back into Facebook Analytics.
You can also build a shop directly into your Facebook page, like the Arsenal soccer team does here:
This second type of shop lets people pick products directly from within Facebook before heading over to your store to check out.
Clearly Facebook Analytics will be the go-to source for data related to these intra-Facebook shopping options.
Facebook properties litter the home screens of hundreds of millions of smartphones. The Facebook Pixel, meanwhile, lurks on websites from every niche. In short, Facebook is everywhere. Which makes Facebook Analytics a powerful tool for any store owner.
Now, there is one obvious downside we haven’t discussed: To really leverage Facebook Analytics, you’ll be inviting yet more tools into your marketing toolkit. And that toolkit might already be bursting at the seams with Google Analytics, Google AdWords, MailChimp, Buffer, and who-knows-how-many other tools.
But Facebook Analytics offers genuine value to store owners. Facebook is absolutely vital to marketers, and its in-house analytics offers the best insights into Facebook marketing, whether it’s on your Facebook page, your Facebook shop, or your website.
In other words, it’s the best data source for some of your most valuable channels.