Prepare yourselves — the Facebook API update is coming. Effective April 30, all of the changes the social media giant has been preparing over the last few months will be finalized, which means you’re likely to see some changes in your social research reports.

In particular, Facebook is removing Graph Search, a feature that many social listening platforms use to pull post-level data from keyword searches. According to Intouch’s experienced social media insights and analytics team, this change will hit brands hardest when it comes to Facebook mentions, which are estimated to drop by 75-90% come May 1.

We’re not being totally left in the lurch, however. Facebook is introducing Topic Data, an aggregate of information that will let marketers drill down into what users are saying about events, brands and subjects. Intouch will be assessing the value of Topic Data and evaluating listening tools with access to the information as it rolls out. We expect Topic Data may actually provide more information about target audiences for our social team to analyze and act on. The key difference is that this data won’t be tied to individual users; it will be anonymous.

With this API update right on our doorstep, there are a couple of actions companies should be taking now in order to maintain a clear picture of their effectiveness on Facebook:

  • Identify pages that typically generate a large volume of mentions and set them up as their own designated channel in a social listening tool. This will ensure that those future mentions aren’t impacted.
  • Explore listening tools that have access to Topic Data and ensure that your social media team knows how to analyze the new information it may provide. We anticipate several tools will integrate Topic Data into their systems over the next three months. Intouch’s social media insights and analytics team will be tracking the roll out and adjusting reports as necessary in order to sustain the level of meaningful detail and expertise our clients are accustomed to.

It’s important to note that the changes will primarily affect research reports such as listening reports, social landscape audits and quick-hit reports. Any of your existing Facebook engagement reports that use page- and post-level data from Insights (shares, post comments, etc.) will not be impacted.

If you’re not prepared, an API shift can cause a lot of confusion and a gap in the stats that are so vital for making informed social media decisions. But with a little bit of preparation upfront, brands can weather the shift, adjust their mindsets and focus on the brand-new opportunities the change provides.