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How To: Facebook Data Mining

Quicklinks:

Things You WIll Need

Facebook Graph API Explorer

Facebook Fan Page ID

Extracting the Data

 

Sometimes it is hard to find the information you are looking for in an easy to read and convenient format. This is especially true on social media, unless you pay for expensive services that still may not show you the information you are looking for. I am going to cover how to extract a Facebook page’s likes, shares, comments, posts, times of posts, and frequency of posts in spreadsheet form for analysis. This process is a quick, easy way to gather competitor data for new accounts to help form your social media strategy.

*Once you perform this process a couple of times it can be completed in less than 10 minutes per page.

Spreadsheets are a quick way to sort data in multiple ways. Though boring to most people, it gets the job done and gives you a great way to view raw data. You can also see data in spreadsheets in different forms by applying graphical representations to them. Programs like excel do this in a couple clicks. Spreadsheets are one of the best ways to view competitor data for your account’s optimization.

The process below is just like following a recipe. For marketers you don’t necessarily need to know the hows or why of this process as much as just getting to the end result. 

 

Things You Will Need

  1. Computer
  2. Internet Access
  3. An Internet Browser
  4. A Note Taking App

 

Facebook Graph API Explorer

API stands for Application Programming Interface. This allows you to request information from applications, such as Facebook. An API is a driving force behind almost all social platforms.

The Facebook Graph API is going to allow you to pull information from competitors pages so that you can analyze it later on.

I would assume most of you know what AirBnB is, if not the feel free to read the full story. What a lot of you may not know is their extreme growth in such a short period of time can be attributed to using social platform’s APIs to their advantage. It is important, even as marketers, that you get comfortable in using social platform’s more advanced tools as well. Recent graduates from high schools and colleges are already learning how to use advanced tools like API’s.

 

You can access Facebook Graph API at https://developers.facebook.com/tools-and-support/

You should see this page. 

 

 

 

Click on the first option under tools, “Graph API Explorer”. You should see the next page…

This is what the Facebook API Graph Explorer page will look like. You may need to register to access this. You can do it from this screen and it is as simple as agreeing to the Facebook’s Terms Of Service. 

Once Registered You’ll click “Get Token” and choose “Page Access Token”. Copy the access token and paste it into your note taking app (the access token is the long string of characters in the red box above).

 

Facebook Fan Page ID

I chose America’s Got Talent because it was trending on Facebook. Once to the Facebook page you want data from you will click in the browser address bar to pull their page name. It could be a unique name or string of numbers, but it is right after the facebook.com slash. In this case it’s nbcagt. Paste this into your note taking app

You should have your access token and Facebook page name pasted into the note taking app. You are going to plug these values into a URL that will give information to find the Facebook Fan Page ID.

Creating the URL

https://graph.facebook.com/{fan-page-name}?access_token={access-token}

After

https://graph.facebook.com/nbcagt?access_token=EAACE…

*EAACE… is the access code from above just truncated for space. You’ll paste your full access code.

You can use this on as many pages as you would like. The URL will stay the same. The only thing that will change is the Access Token and Page Name values.

Take the URL with the access token and Facebook page name values inserted and paste it into your internet browser’s address bar. The URL will take you to a page that has text that cannot be read. You are looking to grab one set of numbers on this page, this is the Facebook Fan Page’s ID. I’ve highlighted the numbers in the image below. *The ID will always be in the same place. 

Take the Facebook Fan Page ID and paste it into your note taking app.

*If you receive an error when going to the first custom URL, then your access token has expired. If that is the case, go back to the Facebook API Explorer page and request another access token to use.

 

Extracting the Data

Now it’s time to extract the data. This will be done by entering in another custom URL into our browser’s address bar. This is going to tell Facebook to give data on the Facebook Page. In this case the page is America’s Got Talent.

Plug the Facebook Fan Page ID and access token into the placeholders.

https://graph.facebook.com/v2.6/{fan-page-ID}/posts/?fields=message,link,permalink_url,created_time,type,name,id,comments.limit(0).
summary(true),shares,likes.limit(0).summary(true),reactions.limit(0).summary(true)&limit=100&access
_token={your-access-token}

After

https://graph.facebook.com/v2.6/10646929759/posts/?fields=message,link,permalink_url,created_time,type,name,id,comments.limit(0).
summary(true),shares,likes.limit(0).summary(true),reactions.limit(0).summary(true)&limit=100&access
_token=EAACE…

Once the URL is filled out, paste the URL into the browser’s address bar. The URL will take you to another page that has text that cannot be read.

You don’t have to understand what this says, but it is the information you are looking for. The text has to be converted to spreadsheet form. 

Copy all of the text and paste it into the note taking App.

Go to www.json-csv.com. This site takes the text the cannot be read , called JSON, and converts it into spreadsheet form.

Paste the JSON text from the last URL into the white box. The site will automatically convert it to a table you can read. You can then download your spreadsheet from the site and view the information.

The image below is what the spreadsheet will look like. You will have to rename some of the columns. It outlines the posts, shares, likes, comments, reactions and also the date and time the post was created.  

From here you can see which posts had the most engagement to help tailor your own posts. You can even copy the URL of the post and paste it into a browser to go the actual post and view comments and replies. You can also pull that information in spreadsheet form, but that’s for a different blog post. 

Repeat this with as many pages as you would like. Remember if you get an error when trying to do this, it is more than likely your access token is expired and you need to create a new one the same way you created the first access token.

Shout out to Paulo at Simplified Web Scraping, where I first learned this technique.

 

View Blog Entries

Keegan Wright

October 26,2016

Tags:

Marketing

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