Facebook adds new public data to page Timelines, lets businesses assess competitors

As part of the latest update to pages, Facebook has made new public insights data accessible to any user who visits a page.

While the new public insights are not likely to be used by most Facebook users, they will help page owners understand the growth trends and performance of pages other than their own. Some businesses might not appreciate particular metrics and growth trends being visible to competitors, but they benefit equally by getting to assess other pages.

Further, by providing a more diverse display of data, the social network continues to de-emphasize total Like count as a means of judging the success of a page. This is aligned with the company’s push to get marketers and advertisers to focus on engagement rather than growth, as well as its emphasis on stories.

Modules like the one above are accessed by clicking the Likes tab or by visiting Facebook.com/[page name]/likes. The module displays three items that were not previously available to the public: “Most Popular Week,” “Most Popular City” and “Most Popular Age Group.” There is also a graph that tracks “People Talking About This” and “New Likes Per Week” over a one month period.

For pages that are associated with a location, the module displays three additional items: “Photos Tagged Here,” “Most Visited Week,” and “Largest Party.” Largest Party is the highest number of people who checked into a place at a single time. Below are the public insights for the American Museum of Natural History, where Facebook held a conference for marketers on Wednesday.

Previously, Facebook only displayed two metrics publicly: total Likes and People Talking About This. The new numbers are displayed in what Facebook is calling a “view,” alongside native and third-party apps. (Native apps include Facebook Photos, Map and Events.) Page owners can choose the order in which views and apps are presented so that some appear in the top row and others are only visible after clicking to see more.

New Likes, People Talking About This and Visits (check-ins) are also displayed publicly in the monthly summary sections of pages’ Timelines.

For marketers, this is a new way to understand how competitors are performing on Facebook. Businesses can use that information to establish benchmarks for their own efforts. Most marketers have little to compare their Facebook growth and engagement to. For a long time, the only way to know how companies were doing on the social network was to look at total Likes. This became a skewed metric as more pages began to buy fans and launch programs that inflated their numbers but didn’t result in lasting engagement. With more public insights, it will be harder for companies to appear more successful than they truly are.

Additional reporting by Brittany Darwell.