Automating the Cleanup of Facebook Insights Exports

This post (the download, really — it’s not much of a post) is about dealing with exports from Facebook Insights. If that’s not something you do, skip it. Go back to Facebook and watch some cat videos.

If you are in a situation where you get data about your Facebook page by exporting .csv or .xls files from the Facebook Insights web interface, then you probably sometimes think you need a 52” monitor to manage the horizontal scrolling. Facebook includes a lot of data in those exports, and a lot of it is useful. Unfortunately, depending on the size of your audience, a page-level export can easily have 1,500 to 2,000 columns of data. It’s unlikely that you are using more than a fraction of them. But, the Facebook Insights interface doesn’t let you specify which ones to include in your export, so you’re stuck with the full data dump.

To add a level of messiness to this, the order and placement of the columns in the export can and will vary based on the timeframe that is exported, and based on what new data Facebook has added to the Facebook Insights export. Over the past few years, I’ve built — twice — simple macros so that “getting just the data I want” from one of these exports is relatively painless. All it takes is a one-time setup to specify the columns you want to keep, what order you want them in, and what you want to label them (because the .csv export — which is nice because it’s a simple flat file and has a single row with the metric names/descriptions — has sometimes long, and yet occasionally still unclear, headings). After that, you just run a quick macro each time you do an export, and you get a worksheet with just the data you want!

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