Love it or hate it, Facebook does offer quite a few tools to aid its business pages in maximizing their impact on viewers.

Arguably the most useful tool is the Insights feature, Facebook’s built-in analytics platform, which allows business pages to track the performance of their posts.

Every community of page viewers is different, and while there are certainly similarities across the board about what types of social posts do better than others, knowing the types of post that your viewers respond the most to is vital to having better engagement with your own audience.

For those who are new to Insights or looking for some suggestions about how to use it more effectively, we reached out to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune‘s Analytics and Engagement Lead Producer Alan Shaw for five ways his newsroom uses Facebook Insights to further its connection to its online followers.

alan-shaw1.) Our digital editor, Brian Ries, checks out our competition’s posts and the numbers on each. While you won’t get detailed info like you will on your own posts, this shows you what’s engaging with your competition’s fans and can give you ideas to borrow.

2.) I look at the info under Publishing Tools>Published Posts to get a quick overview of how our recent posts are engaging. I’m skeptical of reach; instead, I look at Clicks/Actions to see the posts that people are reacting to, commenting on and most importantly, sharing.

3.) We’ve added competitor pages and other pages to the Pages to Watch area under Insights>Overview. This gives a handy snapshot of other page fan sizes and engagement.

4.) Brian downloads the insight data and crunches it to find out Engagement/Reach. He writes:

“This allows us to figure out what type of content actually encourages readers to engage, even if FB doesn’t deem it content worth pushing to a wide audience.

I also crunch the same numbers in different ways, like calculating the same percentage using just shares, or just click-through, or just comments, which tells us what type of content generates the most traffic versus generating feedback versus generating a desire to tell others.”

What we’ve discovered is that we can predict – up to a point – that crime and tragedy get a lot of click-throughs, that “good news” about people in the community will get a lot of reactions, and that traffic garners a lot of shares.

5.) I like the Insights on each Facebook-native video, particularly Video Average Watch Time, to see where in the video people quit watching, and Audience and Engagement, which shows who watched and how they reacted. On live videos, you can see specifically when during a video it got reactions.

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