As we enter into 2013 as business professionals, we know that our company’s Facebook presence cannot be ignored. No longer do we have the option to avoid a presence on the social media giant’s network of over 845+ million users and claim that “we have a website that people can go to instead, we don’t need a Facebook presence”.

With all the chatter about how to best use this massive social media network to impact our businesses, there are inevitably many questions that come to mind: “Where do we start?”, “What do we say?”, “How do we know it’s working?”, and my personal favorite, “what’s a good number of fans for my business?”.

And we cannot say it enough: Measuring your ENGAGEMENT is a far better metric to measure success than measuring your number of fans.

Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics says

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”

What does that really mean? It means that social media is not about the number of people you can get to click a like button, or to follow your business. It is about the CONVERSATIONS you have with those individuals, and how that relationship can benefit your business. It’s word of mouth marketing at its finest. It’s a resource of people ready to give their opinions about your products, services, and promotions. It’s a sounding board for your level of customer service, and the level of quality of your products or services. It is a place for your company to interact and LEARN from it’s best consumers, its engaged audience.

So, what IS a good number of fans for your company? Well, that depends. What are you trying to promote? How popular is your company, product, or service? And are the customers of the age group and proper demographic to use social media as a resource?

A truly better way to measure your success on Facebook is actually to measure your page’s engagement, or rather, how often people are interacting with the content you are sharing, how often you are sharing content, and what the feedback of the audience is. The Facebook terminology for this is considered “Talking About This”, which appears on your Facebook page, next to the number of fans.

What is “People Talking About This”?

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Inside Facebook that describes Talking About This in further detail:

People Talking About This is the number of unique users who have created a “story” about a page in a seven-day period. On Facebook, stories are items that display in News Feed.
Users create stories when they:

    • like a page
    • post on the page wall
    • like a post
    • comment on a post
    • share a post
    • answer a question
    • RSVP to a page’s event
    • mention the page in a post
    • tag the page in a photo
    • check in at a place
    • share a check-in deal
    • like a check-in deal
    • write a recommendation

Whenever a person takes one of these actions, it counts toward People Talking About This. If a user posts a status update about going to a restaurant, that will not affect People Talking About This unless the user uses the @ function to tag the restaurant’s page or checks in to the restaurant from a mobile device. For now, plain text mentions of a topic do not influence People Talking About This, which is meant to indicate how well a page is engaging fans, not simply how popular something is.Because the metric tracks unique users interacting with a page over a seven-day range, if a fan leaves more than one comment or both likes and shares a post within that time, it adds only one point to People Talking About This. However, the number changes daily so it is important to engage fans consistently to keep this number up.

Anyone visiting a page can see the total People Talking About This on the left side of the page under the number of Likes. Although Likes are counted and displayed in real time, People Talking About This data is typically two days behind. This means the number doesn’t tell admins how many people are talking about their page right now, but how many people directly interacted with the page in some way in the seven days prior to two days ago. It’s no wonder people are having trouble understanding the new metric.

To further complicate things, individual posts also have a People Talking About This count, which only page owners can view. This is the unique number of users who interacted with a post in a way that generated a story, for instance, liking, sharing or commenting on content. When users like specific comments on a post, it does not count toward this total since the action does not generate a News Feed story.

What is a Good Talking About This Percentage vs. Facebook Likes?

Now, how do you take that information, and figure out what a good “Talking About This” measurement is for you? That part is actually easy.

Good rule of thumb of ‘Likes’ vs “Talking About This’ numbers for a Facebook Page:

  • With LESS than 100,000 likes, a great ‘talking about this’ number is about 10% of the likes.
  • With MORE than 100,000 likes, a great ‘talking about this’ number is 5% of the likes.

The easiest way to get there is to stay social. Don’t worry too much about the numbers. Keep posting, and pay attention to which posts are the most affective! Time of day and type of post are the best things to look at per status update. Keep in mind that people use social media at different times of the day, make sure you reach them all!