Excel 2016 can easily interrogate the Facebook Graph API

There’s a number of headline features in Office 2016 that we’ve covered in previous posts, but after spending some time with the latest release, there’s one in particular that...

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There’s a number of headline features in Office 2016 that we’ve covered in previous posts, but after spending some time with the latest release, there’s one in particular that is pretty hidden and pretty great.

In Excel, users have been able to connect to data from multiple sources, but in Excel 2016, these offerings have grown considerably. If you go to the Data tab, then click the New Query button, you’ll then select ‘From other sources’. This menu gives you the ability to import data from a Website (table), a SharePoint list, an OData Feed, Hadoop File, Active Directory, Dynamics CRM, Exchange and maybe the most interesting.. Facebook.

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After selecting Facebook as the source, you’re then asked to select an object to connect to in the Facebook Graph. While you have the options to go chase a specific object or username (most useful for developers), the object you should check out is ‘Me’. This means the data returned will be your Likes, your posts, your friends, you get the picture.

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Facebook itself doesn’t always do a great job of displaying this level of detail. For example, you can return a list of the pages you’ve likes, but not the date which liked that page. That data is absolutely stored and is available through Excel 2016. Of course with some filter and sort magic, you can be sitting in front of a reverse chronological list of your page Likes in just a few of clicks.

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You can also use the import wizard to select a column to group on, like the category the Page lives in, so your likes then get an aggregate number, making it easy to tell which category you’ve likes the most (music, entertainment, brands etc).

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It’s not something you’ll use everyday, but is certainly one of the more interesting features in Excel 2016 that lets you get at your Facebook data like never before. For those developers out there, you’re used to accessing this data through a request to the Graph API, but returning that data in Excel could be a quick and easy way to confirm the data you’re returning is correct.

There’s also the opportunity to create all sorts of Excel charts based on the Facebook data, for those managing pages who haven’t found exactly what they want from Facebook Insights, this may be the perfect solution, especially if you’re not a programmer. 

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