Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics: Which Should you Use for Your Business?

Posted on 07/29/2020

With a pretty strong monopoly on 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, until now, have only had one king to look to for help.

But Facebook, never one to be outdone, 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 or Google Analytics?

The answer: both. Let’s dig in to 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, and even emails and links with UTM parameters.
  • Gather 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 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 three or more devices start a task on one device and complete it on another).


Facebook Page Insights and Audience Insights

Facebook has two main tools in their Analytics platform: Page Insights and Audience Insights. Facebook Page Insights provides detailed data around the activities and interaction on your Facebook page. This allows you to understand how people interact with your content. Facebook Audience Insights provides insight into your Facebook audience. This allows you to better understand who you are talking to, better target ads, and create more relevant content.

What Problem Does Facebook Analytics Solve?

Facebook Analytics were 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 the conversion goal is to provide an email, buy a product, or something else). Then, a few days later, they visit your blog where they click on a call-to action and convert. Currently, neither Facebook Analytics or Google Analytics can give the full picture of the customer lifecycle and track a customer through an interaction as described here. 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 Ad 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 Ad Manager allows you to see data around your specific ad campaigns, but doesn’t look at those as part of the complete journey. It gives specific detail around specific campaigns.

According to Facebook, 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 Ad 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. I recommend you 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 and give context to how your Facebook strategies work together with the rest of your shared media work and your entire marketing communications program.

Facebook Analytics is currently better at tracking user journey through multiple sources (also called “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 You Start?

Start by figuring out what questions you want to answer. Then go to Facebook Analytics with that data.

To help you through your exploration of this tool, Facebook offers a useful Q&A. I also find their Success Stories section particularly helpful for seeing capabilities in context.

Article originally written by Laura Petrolino for DucTales Magazine. Laura is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name.


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