Straight Talk About Facebook’s Talking About This

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Facebook recently overhauled their Insights dashboard for page administrators (details about that here – PDF) and in the process added a new metric to brand pages called “people talking about this.”

Facebook defines this metric as “the number of people who created a story about your page” in the last 7 days. Since that’s considerably less elegant and easy to understand than “like,” here’s what it really boils down to:

The “people talking about this” metric is the number of people in the last 7 days who created a story in their NewsFeed/Timeline related to a particular page by doing one or more of the following:

  • Liking the page
  • Posting on the page’s wall
  • Liking, commenting on or sharing a post, photo or video from the page
  • Answering a question posted by the page
  • RSVPing for an event created by the page
  • Mentioning the page in a post
  • Tagging the page in one of their photos
  • Checking in to the page’s location
  • …and possibly a handful of other things.

This metric joins “likes” as the only other metric publicly visible to visitors of a page (in the left sidebar under your page’s logo and description).
Facebook likes and talking about this as displayed on brand pages

Good or Bad?

Facebook has been making waves recently with consumers and privacy advocates alike with their roll-out of new tools for Facebook developers that enable “frictionless sharing.”

Pushed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the recent F8 developers conference, “frictionless sharing” is geekspeak for sharing what you’re doing (reading, listening to, watching, etc.) with Facebook with your friends without you having to explicitly tell Facebook to do so.

For example, you authorize a music app to post what you’re listening to, it posts automatically as you listen, the songs you listen to show up in your ticker, timeline, etc. without your having to click “like” for each individual song.

Some critics say that this makes sharing a little too easy – so easy in fact as to be practically meaningless.

Do I “like” every song I listen to? Is a record of everything I watch any sort of indication of my overall taste in movies or television? If I read a news article do I necessarily have an opinion on it, good or bad?

Let me frictionlessly share my answer to all of those questions with you: No.

A More Useful Measure

Page admins have long been cautioned to not obsess about how many “likes” a page has and focus instead on created engaging content that people want to share and interact with.

On first glance, “people talking about” seems to be a better measure of this type of activity. Surely we want people to be talking about us, right? Nope.

“People talking about” you is not, by any means, always a desirable thing. See: gossip.

For this metric to be useful, it would need to be a little deeper than “all activity of any kind that involves your brand in any way over a 7 day period.”

Even a simple indication of whether those 314 “people talking about” your page were “saying” positive, negative or neutral things would begin to be a more useful measure that could help page administrators assess perception of their brand across Facebook.

See, for example how this is indicated in social media benchmarking tool unmetric.
unmetric screenshot showing sentiment data

Much more useful.

Such an indication of whether a brand is “being talked about” positively or negatively could also be useful for new visitors to the page in deciding whether or not they want to “like” the page and opt-in to receiving its updates.

That decision is what Facebook seems (clumsily) to be trying to help prospective “likers” with by introducing the “people talking about this” metric.

I’d just much rather “like” a page that I know other people truly like rather than one they’re just “talking about.”

How about you?

  • Thanks for writing this Adam, I was wondering what the new metric meant and how it would be measured. It’s so hard to keep up with these changes all the time. Look forward to reading more posts of yours. David Martin