Should you worry about the ‘People Talking About This’ metric?

As a page owner, should you worry about the ‘People Talking About This’ metric recorded in your Facebook Insights and publicly on your Facebook page?

Our answer is yes and no.  But the good news is that you shouldn’t worry because there are probably more people talking about you than Lady Gaga.

What does ‘People Talking About This’ mean?

Before we explain why, first let’s look at what ‘People Talking About This’ means:

This ugly term was created by Facebook last year and officially replaced ‘Interactions’ in their Insights data in October 2011.

‘People Talking About This’ metric

Facebook says: ‘People Talking About’ means stories that people share.   This includes:

  • liking a Page
  • posting to a Page’s Wall
  • liking, commenting on or sharing a Page post
  • answering a Question posted
  • RSVPing to an event
  • mentioning a Page in a post
  • phototagging a Page
  • liking or sharing a check-in deal
  • or checking in at a Place

Why you should worry about your ‘People Talking About’ score…

1. Social Media is the new Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  In the old days (ie 12-18 months ago) you used to mail your list on a regular basis to announce a new brochure or special offer. Now you can communicate with your customers on a daily basis and, more importantly, they can give you feedback.

2. Think of ‘People Talking About This’ as a measure of your relationship with your Fans (ie existing and potential customers).  The higher the number, the better you are ‘relating’ to them, the more your ‘relationship’ is improving.

3. The higher your ‘People Talking About This’ score, the greater your ‘Reach’ will be.  As a Page owner you may have noticed that your ‘Reach’ metric in Insights for any particular post is rarely as high as the number of Fans you have.  This is because the Facebook News Feed is a busy place.  Although users can tailor their news feed to show ‘Recent Stories First’ (see below) most run with the default ‘Highlighted Stories First’ option.

Whether an item is ‘Highlighted’ depends on a complex algorithm determined by your Page’s Edgerank.  A higher ‘People Talking About This’ means your Edgerank will improve and your Reach will increase (ie more of your posts will be seen).

4. Finally, you should be aware that a higher score means that your brand will be appearing more often in that annoying additional News Feed at the top right of your Facebook screen (eg John Smith liked Skipedia).  While most of us ignore these updates, they do represent additional exposure for your brand.  The click-through rate may be very low, but there is a benefit, however small.

Why you shouldn’t worry about your ‘People Talking About’ score…

1. If someone makes a ‘comment’ on one of your updates, that’s a lot more effort than simply ‘liking’, but ‘People Talking About This’ rates it the same.

2. There is no qualitative aspect.  A large number of negative comments on your page (as recently happened with Snowbasin resort) will increase your score, but not to the universal benefit of your brand.

3. ‘People Talking About This’ only relates to a seven day period.  It is just a small snapshot of what’s going on between you and your Fans.  For larger business, running multiple campaigns, it is valuable.  For most SMEs, you are better off following the figure over time and working out what range applies for your business.

4. ‘People Talking About’ by liking and making comments is not people actually talking.  People do still talk to each other and literal word of mouth does still exist (although, as Jennifer Egan chillingly suggested in ‘Message from the Goon Squad’, give it a generation and that will probably stop too).

Why is the ‘People Talking About This’ displayed publicly on Pages?

Useability is not Facebook’s speciality.   There is no value to users in displaying the score on every Page.  Knowing the number of Fans tells you how many people are interested in the Page, but the ‘People Talking About This’ does not tell a user how interesting it is.

To know that you need to know the percentage of ‘People Talking About This’ relative to the total number of fans.  And that produces some interesting results…  

Guess what – you’re probably getting better engagement than Lady Gaga…

“What is this thing about Lady Gaga?  I only read this article because of her!”  Well, if you’ve reached this far you’re probably not one of her ‘Little Monsters’ anyway.  So it won’t matter if I tell you that they might be numerous, but they’re not all that…

So she’s got 45million fans, but just look at the graphic below – only 1.6% of them are ‘Talking About’ her.  Work out your own percentage – I bet you’re doing better…(and if you’re not – get in contact!)


By Iain Martin