Facebook is prompting us all to get our heads out of the - I wanna be popular - mindset, by forcing companies to pay equal, if not more, attention to engagement metrics as to “likes.” The new insights page offers more in-depth engagement metrics if you want to dig around, but the feature ”XX people are talking about this” may be one of the most useful new metrics rolled out. The Talking About metric lives directly under the number of fans on the left hand side of the page and is not only available to page admins but to any Facebook user. So what makes this metric so useful?

The Talking About metric is an easy way to keep tabs on engagement. Start to know the percentage of fans who are “talking about” your page every week versus total fan numbers. I’ve found most pages live in the 1 – 3% range when they aren’t running ads. Set goals for yourself and tweak content when this percentage starts to dip.

It’s also an easy way to spy on your competitors. Let’s admit it, it may seem childish but at some point we all develop a case of fan envy when it comes to competitors’ pages. Sure your competitors may have more fans, especially if they’ve invested in Facebook ads in the past, but do they have as high engagement when you look at the Talking About metric vs Total Fan base? Now that you can view the “Talking About” metric on any page use it as a benchmark to see how your community is performing against others and then tweak.

The Talking About metric is an easy way to spot good ideas.If a page has high engagement rates (# of People Talking About / Total Fans) see what types of content they are posting and what ideas you may be able to borrow when building your own content calendar. Are their posts shorter? Are they using the Questions function more often? More photos than you typically use?

Facebook is trying to ease us into the idea of quality over quantity. Sure it doesn’t hurt to have a large fan base – more potential for exposure via the newsfeed – but a community with a high engagement rate could lead to more word of mouth exposure (friends seeing friends’ activity on a brand post) as well as a chance to create deeper connections and loyalty (brand and fan interacting versus just brand posting). So don’t dismiss the Talking About metric and try for a week or two focusing on engagement versus total fan base numbers. It won’t be easy – we all want to be popular – but it may be worth it in the long run.