A Facebook Conversion By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

When you first dive into the world of social media marketing, it can be difficult to know how to analyze the performance of your ads and posts. Facebook in particular has a myriad of data to offer on every ad you run—everything from clicks to CPAs to the age and gender of the people viewing your ads. And two of the metrics we often consider to be the most important—engagement rates and conversions—come with their own set of difficulties. Engagement rates can vary wildly between picture posts and video posts, and conversion numbers are often reported differently in Facebook than they are in Google Analytics, another tool that’s often used to gauge the results of marketing efforts. So how do you make sense of everything? We’re here to break down these two common sources of confusion.

Why are engagement rates on Facebook videos so much higher than regular Facebook posts?

This is a question we often hear from our clients. Oftentimes they’ll run an organic or boosted post comprised of pictures or text, and see a much lower engagement rate on these than they do on videos, which can sometimes drive engagement rates as high as 70% or 80%. These numbers are a bit misleading, though, as Facebook counts a video engagement as anyone who views the video for 3 seconds or longer—a loose definition that’s fairly easy to reach. On the other hand, engagement for a picture or text post is defined as anyone who likes, comments, shares or clicks the post—here an action actually has to happen, rather than just passively viewing a video. This is the primary reason why video posts show such higher engagement rates than text or picture posts. Don’t spend too much time worrying if a text post comes back with only a 2% engagement rate in comparison to a video post that generated a 40% engagement rate—you’re comparing apples and oranges. Instead focus on comparing your posts to others of the same type.

Why do Google Analytics and Facebook show different conversion numbers?

This is another question we often receive from clients. Their Facebook dashboard will show 27 conversions generated from an ad they just ran, but Google Analytics will only report 11. Why is there such a discrepancy between these numbers?

It has to do with the way Facebook and Google Analytics track conversions. Facebook uses a method called view-through conversions, which counts a conversion as anyone who sees the ad and then later goes on to purchase, whether they clicked through the ad or not. So, potentially, a viewer could briefly see the ad on their Facebook newsfeed and ignore it, but if they Googled the company a few days later and made a purchase, Facebook would still attribute this conversion to that Facebook ad. Google Analytics, on the other hand, tends to be more conservative with their method of measuring a purchase. They only consider click-through conversions, which is defined by someone actually clicking on a Facebook ad and making a purchase after that click (It’s important to note that these can also include assisted conversions, which is when someone clicks through an ad, but then leaves the website and eventually returns to make a purchase through a separate avenue, like another ad or a Google search. As long as that initial click happens, Google Analytics counts it).

So which type of tracking should be given more weight? We typically consider the Google Analytics method more reliable, as it allows you to see exactly who clicked on an ad and ultimately made a purchase because of that click. That’s not to say that Facebook conversion metrics should be thrown away, but they should be taken with a grain of salt, because they make it harder to tell whether someone directly clicked on the ad or simply saw the ad, and, in this case, to what extent they really paid attention to the ad.

So, there you have it—now you can dig into these common metrics on Facebook with the confidence that you know exactly what they mean. If and when more questions pop up, we’ll be here to answer them. Just drop us a line at hello@makadigital.com.