“As Facebook makes it harder to reach more than a handful of followers with free posts, being smarter with timed, highly targeted messages is critical.”

As Facebook makes it harder to reach more than a handful of followers with free posts, being smarter with timed, highly targeted messages is critical.

Fortunately, figuring out who to target and when to do so is easier than you'd think.

If knowledge is power, then data is its dynamic precursor – and the good news is, all of this strategic info is available to you (for free!) if you have access to the right tools.

The latest version of Facebook Page Insights (released in October 2013), for example, “makes it easier for you to find and interpret data that will let you make important decisions about your Facebook marketing”, according to marketing consultant John Loomer.

“What you learn can help you adjust the content you post to Facebook and when you publish it so you reach your target audience more effectively,” he says in an article on the Social Media Examiner website.

“Until recently, the bulk of (the) valuable data was accessible only through the export of clumsy, difficult-to-navigate spread sheet files that often buried key metrics.”

“Thankfully, Facebook has refreshed the web version of Insights to bring you clear data sets that are presented in easier-to-navigate graphs that are highly dynamic and customisable.”

There are also plenty of free versions of alternative, lesser-known Facebook analytical tools around, including Simply MeasuredKomfo and Google Analytics Custom Reports.

"Simply Measured have a section of free reports to choose from for the top social networks, including four specifically for Facebook," says social media strategist Kristi Hines.

"Each of the free reports can be downloaded to Excel or exported to Powerpoint," she explains in a blog on the Post Planner website.

“Overall, you really can’t go wrong... While Simply Measured doesn’t charge you for the reports, they do require you to post an update about the report you are running (not the details – just a link to the reporting tool itself) to your Facebook account.” 

Meanwhile, the free version of Komfo "provides analysis – with additional handholding – to help you analyse your Facebook content," explains social media strategy consultant Neal Schaffer.

The free version generates a single, comprehensive report that calculates your 'fan penetration', 'viral amplification', 'click through rate' and 'spam score'.

"The tool also includes the 'People Talking About This' number, which they call 'Stories', as well as overall Reach," Schaffer explains in an article on the Maximize Social Business website.

Finally, Google Analytics “allows you to create custom reports that analyses the traffic you receive from Facebook in a variety of ways”, says Kristi Hines.

"For example, you can create a report that shows the country Facebook visitors are from in relation to the number of visits, bounce rate, and conversion rate on your top Google Analytics goals."

“You will (also) have the opportunity to customise the most important information to your business about your Facebook traffic and have it sent on a regular basis."

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