analytics, Facebook, insights, metrics, social networks, visualizations

The curve of your #FACEbook; 4 common #facebook #insight curves demystified

By now, I’ve looked at many, many Facebook insights curves working with various brand pages and I’ve come to notice a pattern in what I see.  Here is an explanation of four common Facebook insight curves or charts.  Understanding these patterns will help with understanding the success of Facebook pages.  This is likely of most interest to community managers or analytic geeks.

First a quick recap of the main units of measure on these charts.

  • People Talking About This or “TAT” includes all engagement metrics that Facebook allows – liking a post, sharing it, commenting, presumably any liking per comment and *liking a page*.  I don’t think it is the best measurement of engagement but it is what Facebook allows us to see.
  • New likes per week – indicates any new liking activity for your page.   Why Facebook adds “per week” on this unit and not the other, I don’t know.

Consider that these units of measure are presented as though they are daily activity – but they are NOT.  Each point on the graph represents a rolling 7 day week of data.  So that means the Sept 20th data is actually 7 days of activity ending on Sept. 20th (so Sept. 13 – Sept 20th).  Then Sept 21th is represented by data from Sept 14 – 21.  This is frustrating because true daily activity is muted somewhat.  I’m not sure why Facebook does this nor can I find articles on why using 7 day rolling data would be advantageous over using daily data.  If you have an opinion – please enlighten me!

Also consider that the TAT number contains any liking of a page – which is what the ‘new likes per week’ is all about.  So we are comparing two curves, one containing the other curve within it so we have to deduce that the visual gap between the two curves represents the “success” of the content.

Of course, a liked post can be generated by cheap, low involvement engagement e.g. what is your favorite colour vs. answering a consumer inquiry.  I see tons of ‘cheating’ questions – to the tune of “like this if you put socks on in the morning” – and community managers report that as successful content because facebook monkeys click “like” on the post but it does nothing for building deeper connections with a brand page.  [rant]   So despite charts, there will always be a need for further analysis into the context of the engagement.

Onto the curves.

The Newbie Chart

This is the chart to an unidentified, brand new facebook page.  Our natural cues to its newbie status would be the start of content & number of facebook likes on the actual page (not depicted here).   In looking at this Facebook insights curve,  you see new like and ‘talking about this’ [TAT]  following together.  This is because for every new like, Facebook also records it within their  “TAT”number.  So the TAT number is driven almost entirely by new likes.    Then the community manager took a break – and with a young page, every thing – liking the page & engagement crashes.  But then content reappears which looks like it appeals to the existing fan base.   We see the curves diverge.

The Contest Driven Chart

Contests are the easiest way to ‘cheat’ at Facebook fan (like) growth.  So many many do it and wonder why their community isn’t reflecting the people brands care about.  At the same time, it is a tactic – a reasonable fast one to gain critical mass.  Critical mass allows brands to get into a decent social graph – reaching friends of friends – otherwise the brand is in a room talking to itself.   With a contest under belt,  its a crowded party but possibly in the wrong bar, with the wrong crowd.

So focus on the right half of this chart – we see two bumps with the gray ‘new likes’ line following the TAT line.  This is reflective of new people entering a contest.  It could also be a curve that reflects good content that encourages people to also like a page, but since we know the contest is going on, then know the curve.   At the same time  – there is a bit distance between the curves which indicates that the content either resonated with contest goers (it did, its the Swiffer ‘my man cleans’ t-shirt, Oct. 15) or that the contest asked visitors to do some kind of monkey task (it did, Swiffer’s advertising ‘show us the love or at least like us’).

The ad supported chart

Up, down, up, down… likely in concert with two waves of facebook advertising spend.   To me, the first bump suggests the first ad worked harder or was supported by some kind of like incentive.  The curve drops when the stimulus is removed, and re-appears with ad support (confirmed as I’ve seen the ads).    I don’t see this as a healthy facebook curve at all.  It is artificial – because it is not sustainable without advertising.

The ‘my content went viral’ chart

This is Red Bull’s facebook page – after its sponsorship of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the stratosphere.   A brilliant capture of content from a brand, in my opinion.  Here we see the facebook curve coming off an ad spend, then the big bump on the right is the release of photos related to Felix.  The content is heavily shared – and although this is a rolling seven day picture, it seems to have been shared over time – given the evidence of new little spikes in the curve top.   As for new likes per week – there is traction.

What is interesting is that this chart represents a community of 32 million.  So the “new likes” are not what is driving the content here – it is the content being shared among the existing fan base – or so I expect.

Another ‘my content went viral’ chart

UK Bodyform’s very interesting video response to a disillusioned man was well received.  For a little community – the content got a lot of eyeballs.  It did not translate well into likes – although there are a few new likes at the right.  It may be that this community did not have a lot of content prior to the video – so the community saw this as a one time contribution, albeit awesome, but not enough to like the page.  That said – this is a page for feminine protection which wouldn’t get much public liking anyways.

I hope this helps with your perspectives on facebook insight charts and your measurement of facebook pages.  Drop me a comment if there is a curve pattern that I could include.


Six Visualizations Sources You Should Know About

Visualization is the art & science of making complex ideas easy to understand through visuals.

It is a design technique that is woefully underutilized on many websites but an area that I expect to grow in the future.

TouchgraphHere are my favorite visualization tools in 2009.

1.  Facebook’s Touchgraph Photo

This Facebook application allows me to see how my friends are interconnected.

In this photo, I’ve highlight my twin sister who is the most connected, of course, to the rest of my friend network.  The various colours represent different networks which on my map tends to be geography or former place of work.

While interesting, I haven’t found this much use in business life.  I can’t seem to apply this to Facebook corporate fan pages where it would be very interesting to have a tool to visually show which

fans are most connected or which regions stand out in the fan base.  I find these tools exist but just are easily applied to business yet.

Touchgraph will also do a map of interconnected websites around a google search term, however, this seems to generate a lot of wikipedia site entries.


Word clouds are perhaps the best known ‘web 2.0’ visualization made popular by, an online word cloud generator online.   Wordle certainly is not new; its an online tool that has been around since at least 2006, but it remains a very popular interactive tool.

Wordle-summaryYou can take a resume or speech and drop the text in wordle and it will generate your word cloud.  The words that are larger represent words that are mentioned more often and so you begin to see where the emphasis is in a speech.

Chirag Mehta, a former grad student at the University of Tampa, made tag clouds of all the US presidents State of the Union or Inaugural Addresses – well up to Bush 2001 anyways.  Watch the word ‘war’ over two hundred years of speeches.


A neat variation of the word cloud is a tweet cloud.  I recommend using Tweetstats to generate your twitter cloud as the tool seems to cover a longer time period of your tweeting. Starbucks tweet cloud Some twitter metric tools will only cover the past 200 tweets which can give false reads on impressions and performance.  Tweetstats allows exports to if you don’t like the generated tag cloud.

Tweetstats will also indicate how many ‘twooshes’ you’ve had – that is how many 140 character tweets you’ve had.

I’ve use twitter word clouds in the past for my clients to demonstrate what our tweets have been about.  This was particularly helpful for sponsored events where I’ve been able to show strong tweet mention of the sponsors.

4.  TrendsmapTrendsmap
This is a real time mapping of twitter trends around the world.   You can drill down to a local region to get read on the most popular tags at the moment.   If you click on an actual tag, you can see a live stream of tweets using the tag.

Be mindful, however, a tag may be popular but have no relationship between tweets.  For instance, the word ‘purchase’ is used over and over again but is not representing a meme or common idea in the twitterverse.

5. VizeduVizedu is an online resource that explains emerging technology through easy to understand slide presentations.

The social networking slides are among my favorites though I wish there were additional functionality to add voice overs and take these organized, well presented thoughts to the next level.

6.  GOOD magazine

This is a new source for me suggested by @theSaaSGuy:

“If you are looking for really neat information visualization then GOOD magazine is the best.”.

Good magazine feels like an American version of Adbusters but less tiring and with more purpose.GOOD100cover

Good is, in its own words, “making a magazine, videos, and events for people who give a damn.”

Greater exploration reveals a worm hole that will prevent me from finishing this blog piece.  To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know about the magazine sooner.  Note to self – start looking at the magazine racks again!   Take a peek at this article on understanding your water footprint.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a minion talking about visualizations – it is a rigorous discipline that I have little training in beyond the appreciation that it is underutilized online.  Easily said, however, is that visualizations can not just be colourful and interesting but the user has to understand copious amounts of data or a complex subject easily and quickly.

I’d be interested in your favorite visualization in 2009.  Please leave me a comment for me here.


Laurie Dillon-Schalk is the Chief Marketing Strategist and founder of Social Wisdom – a Toronto based digital marketing consultancy that helps firms use social media and the web wisely.

You can find Laurie on Twitter at or on her blog at