By Sarah Baughman, PhD Virginia Cooperative Extension
This is the second in a four part blog series on evaluating Extension social media activities. This post focuses on the basics of how Extension educators can gather data from Facebook. Facebook can be a great tool for communicating with your audiences and for educational programs. The best way to find out if Facebook is working the way you hope is via Facebook Insights.
Facebook Insights is available to all administrators of a Facebook page. To access insights, go your page and in the Admin panel, click on See All under Insights.
This brings up the dashboard for your Facebook page. It is a treasure trove of information and it is worth spending some time reading the guide from Facebook: http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/Pages_Insights_Guide_Updated.pdf.
It is critical to understand why you are using Facebook and what you hope to accomplish as you start gathering insights. Are you using Facebook primarily as a communications tool for existing audiences? Or do you have an educational purpose? Understanding what you hope to accomplish will help guide what data you want to examine in Insights. The data should tell you something about how you are progressing or not progressing towards your goals. For example, if you are primarily communicating with clients, you will want to look at basic metrics such as likes, total reach and delve into your page posts. If you are using it more for educational programming, you will want to explore engagement metrics such as comments and sharing.
The most important aspect of evaluating social media efforts is to gather consistent data on a regular basis. One Extension agent started using Facebook to communicate with teenage members of her 4-H program. As she began to collect data and examine the demographics of who was using her page she realized that it was the parents of her 4-Hers following the Facebook page. Consistently gathering demographic data over time helped her understand her audience and change her communications accordingly.
If you are a data nerd or find that you want more information on how your page is performing, Facebook also offers the ability to download even more data into an excel spreadsheet. For more information on downloading Facebook Insights data check out this webinar https://learn.extension.org/events/474
Author: Sarah Baughman (@programeval, firstname.lastname@example.org)
This article (Facebook Insights for Extension Educators) was originally published Friday, September 14, 2012 on the Evaluation Community of Practice blog, a part of eXtension. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.