Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics: Which Should You Use?

Laura Petrolino At Spin Sucks
on Mon, 06/08/2020
analytics dashboard viewed on a tablet sitting on a table

With a pretty strong monopoly on what the analytics market (at least for what’s easily accessible and useable to most business leaders), Google Analytics has been sitting pretty on top of a kingdom of users who only have one king to look to for help.

But Facebook, never one to be outdone (no matter what you might think of them otherwise) has slowly worked to upgrade and improve their analytics tools to support their ad business and encourage people to reconsider where they look for the best audience and social media analytics.

So, which is best: Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics?

And the answer is both. Let’s dig into why.

What Is Facebook Analytics?

Facebook Analytics was launched several years ago and has been developing and growing for quite some time.

With Facebook Analytics you can:

  • Track the customer journey across different channels: mobile/desktop, Facebook page, website, Facebook Ads, other platform ads, any apps you might run, even emails and links with UTM parameters
  • Collect aggregated demographic information about the people who interact with you and convert (or don’t convert).
  • Create funnels to track behavior, conversions, and revenue, and understand which customer journeys are most successful.
  • Build custom audiences and learn from their specific behaviors.
  • Set up event source groups, which you can create in your dashboard to segment and retarget people who follow a specific event path.
  • Use some pretty cool and advanced machine learning capabilities to really add an extra level of audience data.
  • Build custom audiences based on omnichannel insights. A study commissioned by Facebook showed that 77% of people with 3 or more devices start a task on one device and complete it on another.

You can find a few good tutorials on how to set-up Facebook Analytics, HERE.

Facebook Page Insights and Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook has two main tools in their Analytics platform: Page Insights and Audience Insights.

Facebook Page Insights gives you detailed data around the activities and interaction on your Facebook Page. This allows you to see best and understand how people interact with your content. Facebook Audience Insights provides insight into your Facebook audience. This allows you to really understand who you are talking to, better target your ads, and create more relevant content.

What Problem Does Facebook Analytics Solve?

Facebook Analytics was developed to solve the problem of not being able to see the full picture of what influences a conversion decision. For example, your user might see a Facebook ad, click on it, but not convert (whether that goal conversion is to provide an email, set up a consultation, or something else). Then they may read a blog post from you a few days later, click on a call to action there, and then convert.

Currently, neither Facebook Analytics nor Google Analytics can give the full picture of the customer lifecycle. They both provide important pieces of the puzzle, but they can’t show you EXACTLY how it was done. Facebook Analytics is working to change that. And that lifecycle problem is one of the biggest points of differentiation for Facebook in the Facebook Analytics vs Google Analytics face-off.

Facebook Analytics vs. Facebook Ads Manager

To be clear, Facebook Analytics isn’t the same as Facebook Ad Manager or Facebook Insights.

Facebook Analytics looks at all of your data: pixel, Facebook page, Facebook Messenger and Bots, website, any apps you might have, and other platform ads to create a total picture. It allows you to see how almost all of your efforts and different campaigns (organic and paid) influence a customer journey.

Facebook Ads Manager allows you to see the data around your specific ad campaigns but doesn’t look at those as part of the complete journey. It gives specific details around specific campaigns.

As Facebook says: “Facebook Analytics allows you to learn about the types of people using your product, how they got there, and what actions they are taking. Facebook Ads Manager is designed to help you create, manage, and measure your Facebook ads.”

The Ultimate Question: Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics

Currently, the answer to this question isn’t “either/or.”  It’s “yes, and…”

How you use each one depends on what questions you are trying to answer. Then use each one separately, and together, to answer those questions.

Google Analytics is still the most robust platform. It offers more data, more conversion tracking, and an overall larger view. You must use Google Analytics to complete the picture of how Facebook traffic drives your business goals. It also gives context on how your Facebook strategies work together with the rest of your media campaigns. 

Facebook Analytics is currently better at tracking the user journey through multiple sources (or “omnichannel”). Because you can connect your pixels, Facebook page, Messenger, apps, and even things such as Google UTM parameters, you can connect the pieces in a way Google doesn’t allow yet. It also addresses a bunch of the “dark social” tracking problems we see more and more frequently.

Facebook also says they offer “user-based tracking” vs. the Google “cookie-based tracking.” This isn’t exactly true because Google does provide some user-based data; it’s just nowhere near as robust and detailed as Facebook. 

Where Should I Start?

Facebook Analytics is good at showing you the customer journey and the details around the people who engage with your brand, both in demographics and behaviors. Google Analytics provides more data, greater capabilities, and shows detailed info around how each distribution channel feeds your website and goals. Start by figuring out what questions you want to answer, then go to Facebook Analytics with that data. These resources will be helpful in your exploration:

  • Facebook offers a really good Q&A. I also find their Success Stories section particularly helpful for seeing capabilities in context.
  • My favorite Facebook conversion-focused podcast, Perpetual Traffic, recently had a great episode on Facebook Analytics. They also spoke to the Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics issue.
  • Social Media Examiner goes into detail about the two aspects of Facebook Analytics: Page Insights and Audience Insights. Their articles are also the most recently updated of any others out there. 

But most of all, get in there, play around, and learn. Don’t worry, you won’t break anything. But get in now and start learning and asking questions.