“Talking about this” and virality: How Facebook calculates new metrics

By October 19, 2011Social Media

What does “are talking about this” on my Facebook page mean? If you are a page admin, you may have noticed that last week Facebook added a new metric to pages below the like count.

The “like” button has been the go-to metric for measuring a successful Facebook page. However, Facebook realized that a high number of likes does not necessarily denote a strong page because “liking” is a one time action. Getting someone to “like” your page is only the first step and has little value unless those fans maintain interest and interaction with the page.

Enter “are talking about this” metric

To assist in more accurately measuring the success of a page, Facebook established the new “### are talking about this” metric, which measures recent engagement with the page.

The season 2 premier of AMC's The Walking Dead last Sunday had a huge social response.

What does the “talking about this” metric mean for brands and for Facebook users? Similar to the “like” metric, the new metric is visible to the public. It is meant to help Facebook users determine which pages are most valid. This helps distinguish between the success or popularity of a particular brand from the success and popularity of their Facebook page. Especially for well-known brands, it is quite possible that they have a high number of “likes” without having a strong page. The new metric introduces a new dimension to assessing a page.

What factors into the “are talking about this” metric?

Several actions contribute to the “are talking about this” metric.  A person is considered to be “talking about” a page any time he or she:

  • Likes the page
  • Posts on the page’s wall
  • Comments on a post on the page’s wall
  • Shares a post from the page’s wall
  • Likes a post on the page’s wall
  • Answers a question posed by the page
  • RSVPs to one of the page’s events
  • Mentions a page in a post
  • Tags a page in a photo
  • Checks in to the page
  • Likes a check-in deal from the page

Essentially, the metric tracks the number of people who have created a story from the page in the past seven days.

Optimizing posts with Virality

In addition to seeing the new “are talking about this” metric, Facebook also added a new metric to the insights page: virality. Virality measures how popular each piece of content is. It is determined by dividing the number of  people “talking about this” by the reach, or the number of unique people who saw the content.

Virality is determined by dividing the number of people talking about a post by the reach of the post.

This new measurement is important, but it does not override previous analytics. Admins still want to pay attention to measurements such as time of day, day of the week, number of posts per day, etc. to optimize the number of views for each post. Virality simply ads a new dimension to optimizing posts. It allows page admins to better analyze the success of individual posts, helping them learn what their fan-base responds to and better deliver in future posts.

For those of you who are more visually inclined, Neo Consulting recently published an infographic outline of the new Facebook insights features.

via Search Engine Land and Neo Consulting

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