Facebook’s analytics tool Insights will soon begin showing Page performance data in real-time or near real-time rather than on average 48 hour delay, according to our sources. Work on preparing for the switch to real-time reporting is apparently the cause of recent atypically long delays of 4 days or more, chronicled by one-off website WhyIsFacebookInsightsNotWorking.com.
Impressions, reach, negative feedback, “people talking about this”, and demographics of engagers could all start showing up live in the graphical Insights interface as well as the API. Real-time data reporting in Insights could give businesses the understanding necessary to drive higher ROI, which could attract more brands and advertisers to Facebook in the lead up to its IPO.
[Correction: This article originally stated that real-time Insights would be announced at Wednesday's Facebook Marketing Conference in New York City. I've learned the timetable for the announcement and release isn't confirmed at this time, so it could be announced at FMC or further down the road. The product is in the works, though.]
[Update 2/29/12: Our scoop was right one the money, Facebook confirms. Business Data Reporting In 5-10 Minutes, Not Days. Facebook Rolls Out Real-Time Insights]
Right now, the only metrics that are reported in near real-time are for offsite social plugins, and Likes, comments, and shares on a Page’s posts to the news feed. It can be 12 hours to more than 2 days before Page posts start displaying reach and people talking about this to admins, and before admins can check Insights for dozens of other metrics such as link clicks, and impressions of the post driven by Sponsored Story ads. By then it may be too late to effectively launch a new ad campaign or delete and repost a link update with a different headline, caption, or image.
While businesses can’t edit previously published posts like on Google+, there are many new tactics real-time reporting will allow. If a Page’s admin see that their latest post is causing lots of users to Unlike their Page, they could delete it before it does more harm. Live impression data could help them determine the optimal time to post. Immediate “people talking about this” data could give marketers a sense of a post’s virality, and indicate if they should modify content or apps they link to. Google Analytics recently moved to real-time reporting of site visitors after previously serving data 3 hours to a day late. After the update, Insights won’t seem so slow by comparison.
Making real-time Insights data available through the API “will give Page owners an opportunity to see how their Page actually lives and breathes,” says Facebook analytics tool provider EdgeRank Checker‘s founder Chad Wittman. “It’s up to us as tool developers to turn that data into something awesome and present it in relevant actionable analytics.”