Everybody does a little Facebook stalking from time to time.
It’s pretty harmless, right? You spend a couple minutes here and there cruising photos from your coworker’s barbecue, or reading status updates posted by your old high school buddies. A fun little time-waster, that’s all.
When it comes to your business, though, it isn’t just a fun little time-waster – not in the least bit.
Facebook wants you to stalk your competitors – and they make it REALLY easy to do it.
Last fall, Facebook introduced a little feature on your Insights page called “Pages to Watch” – it essentially allows you to cultivate a list of businesses whose performances you want to monitor, and then IT GIVES YOU THEIR DATA. (And yes – that means other businesses could be creeping on YOUR data, too.)
So why are we talking about it now? Well, not too long ago, Facebook totally revamped its Pages to Watch feature, so it seemed like this is as good a time as any to give a proper introduction. If you haven’t used Pages to Watch before, this post is for you. Let’s dive right in for a closer look! (Quick note – your Facebook page needs to have at least 100 fans to enable this feature.)
First things first – what exactly does Pages to Watch DO?
Think of it this way – you have competitors. (Unless you don’t, in which case, good for you, yo!) And competitors aren’t evil or anything! It’s not like you wanna climb in their office window to steal the secret recipe. You don’t wanna blow their business off the face of the Earth. It’s OKAY to have competitors.
But still, it wouldn’t hurt to get a little peek at what they’re doing differently from you, right?
Pages to Watch does just that. Here, I’ll show you! You go to your Facebook Insights tab, and on the first page – the Overview tab – scroll down until you get to Pages to Watch. It’ll look like this:
Underneath where it says “Suggested Pages to Watch,” it’ll give you a list of pages that it thinks are similar to yours – you can browse them, but for now, we’ll skip to the “Add Pages” button.
This is going to bring up a box that allows you to search for other pages – like your competitors – and add them to your Pages to Watch section. I’ll add a few randos to mine, just to show you how it looks:
(Note: These are most certainly not what I would consider to be competitors. Just in case you were wondering.)
Pages to Watch shows you how all of the pages on your list – including your own – are stacking up against each other. Our boy Vin Diesel racked up 5.9 million engagements this week, thanks in no small part to his most recent hit movie (he’s added more than 13 million fans since I last blogged about him – YOU’RE WELCOME, VIN).
And try as I may, I can’t keep pace with Beyoncé. Pages to Watch shows me that with just 3 posts, girl scored more than 600K in engagement, and raised her overall page likes by .3% – so if we’re sticking to percentages, here, she and I are baaaasically neck and neck.
Anyway, that’s what the overview looks like – and for the record, you can add up to 100 pages, so feel free to go totally data-crazy over this stuff.
Before you do, though, there’s more to see…
Getting even more nitty-gritty with Pages to Watch
You’ve seen the Overview tab, but now it’s gonna get even MORE in-depth. Go to the Posts tab, and then Top Posts from Pages You Watch, like so:
Now here, Facebook gives you the top five posts of the week out of EVERYONE on your Pages to Watch list. So if you have a bunch of highly competitive pages, you’ll probably get a nice spread, like so:
(It doesn’t always break down like that, though. If you have one page on your list that’s waaaaay more popular than the others, for example, you might just see five posts all from that same page.)
So Facebook gives you the five best posts of the week, when exactly each one was published, how many people it engaged, and a link to the post itself. It’s a super handy way to keep track of how others are engaging the same audience you’re targeting.
How to know you’re watching the right pages
Because you can use Pages to Watch to watch literally any page you want, you have to be sure that you’re choosing the right ones. How do you know which ones to choose?
It’s actually a lot easier than you might think, and it’s all thanks to Facebook’s graph search function. Graph search is what allows you to search for things like “People in California who like Grumpy Cat.” Put in a super specific query, get super specific results. (It’s actually pretty fun to play around with!)
Go up to the search bar at the top of your Facebook page and search for Pages liked by people who like [your company’s name]. The results are the pages that, well, are liked by the same people who also like yours! Here’s part of mine, for example:
These are all pages that have been liked by the same people who liked my own page – it’s like a peek at who and what else interests them. By searching like this, you can make sure you’re paying attention to the same people your audience pays attention to, instead of just guessing at random.
Don’t forget – other people can watch you, too
One of the good things about Pages to Watch is that nobody really KNOWS you’re watching them. One of the BAD things about Pages to Watch is that you never really know who’s watching YOU.
When you get added to someone else’s Pages to Watch list, you get a notification, just like anyone else gets when YOU start watching THEM:
So while you know that someone’s got their eye on you, you don’t know who. On the plus side, it means you can add whoever you want without worrying about them knowing, but then, there’s also that Big Brother-ish aspect to knowing that you’re being watched.
So is Pages to Watch a creepy feature?
Now that you’ve seen how it works, I’m curious to hear what you think about Pages to Watch. It’s been a little bit controversial since Facebook introduced the feature, so what do you think? Is it convenient? Creepy? Both? Share your thoughts in the comments – and tell me how you REALLY feel!