Facebook active users are often overlooked in favor of “likes,” but they are more important for one good reason: They often reveal the strength of a fan page presence on Facebook.
First, a definition of active users, according to Facebook.
“The number of people who have interacted with or viewed your Page or its posts. This includes people who have liked your Page and people who haven’t.”
What does this mean?
Note that it says “viewed your Page or its posts.” In other words, it isn’t just people who have come to your page. It also is posts that have been distributed to your Likes — via shares and by other means — as well as the followers of your Likes who can see their engagement.
Think of active users as the same as visitors to a Web site who trigger a page view or ad impression. Yes, the post is viewable in the newsfeed, which is a branding opportunity.
Then it’s a matter of whether they click to the fan page, then whether they engage with the page and finally whether they click from the page to the parent Web site (if getting clicks is a goal).
Monthly, Weekly and Daily
Facebook reporting tools break down active users into monthly, weekly and daily. Again like Web site metrics, the monthly number is the most important one because it is the largest and it shows whether the trend is up or down.
Frequency is a key metric in online audiences. Monthly, weekly and daily active users vary because of how often Facebook users log onto the site. That’s why the monthly number will always be higher than the weekly and the weekly higher than the daily.
Facebook Insights, the page analytics tool, allows page administrators to look at the engagement level of these active users with custom start and stop dates as well as quarterly, monthly and weekly reports.
Compare the results of these two actual sites:
- Site A has three times as many Likes as Site B.
- But Site B has three times as many active monthly users as Site A.
- Site B has three times as many post views as Site A.
- Site B also has twice as many Web site visits.
Site A has a prominent Facebook Like box in the upper left corner of every page on its Web site. Site B has a similar box in the lower left, under a 160 x 600 ad.
That explains the difference in Likes. Site A is simply doing a better job of promoting its Like box. But what about the difference in active monthly users?
Post Quantity Drives Active Users
The answer is simple. Site B posts far more often to its Facebook page than Site A.
Both sites use automated RSS feeds as part of their Facebook marketing strategy to save time. But Site A delivers on average one post or fewer per day. Site B delivers eight to 10 posts daily.
It all comes down to one of the main metrics on the Internet — quantity of content. Post often on your Facebook page, and they are more likely to be seen by the greatest number of people.
Of course, the quantity of posts is one part of the story for increasing Facebook active users. Timing matters whether the updates are done manually or automatically.
Successful pages like the one for Site B will use Insights to identify the time of day that its users are most likely to log on to Facebook and see recent posts in their timeline.
Post Quality Drives Likes
But quantity alone doesn’t drive Facebook active users. Quality is required as well. It is because of quality that a fan is more likely to Like, Share or Comment on the post.
News sites prove that posts with strong levels of local interest will drive engagement. Photos increase visual appeal. Photos of people increase shares.
Shorter posts are more likely to be read. Posts that provide humor, questions and interesting faces are more likely to trigger engagement.
If the post has a link to the parent Web site, the active user is more likely to click on the link. If the link uses carefully crafted keywords, the landing page will get a boost in search engine results.
Increasing Active Users
Using the example early in this article, it is safe to make a few guidelines about increasing active users.
- Post a link to the Facebook page prominently on the Web site.
- Run promotional banner ads on the site.
- Buy ads on Facebook.
- Optimize Facebook posts so they are ranked by search engines.
When the number of monthly active users goes up, the fan page benefits, the brand benefits and so does the business that owns the Facebook page.