The Facebook “Like” land grab is in full swing. Fan acquisition is becoming an increasing part of many marketing plans, in the midst of a lot of debate on the value of Facebook fans. Different pundits are increasingly trying to pinpoint a universal value to fans.
As one observer summarized, “Your Facebook fans are worth exactly $1.07. No, they’re worth $3.60. Or maybe they’re worth $136.38. Unless they’re worthless.”
Setting a value per fan can lead to indiscriminate fan chasing. Many brands seem intent on amassing as many fans as possible, independent of the relevance of the fan. They’re treating fan accumulation as a media buy.
While fans can be bought, it’s important to remember that quality trumps quantity. And simply accumulating fans is only the start. Developing a relationship is far more valuable.
Hal Thomas posted some useful notes following an SXSW panel on the value of a Facebook fan: “The value of a Facebook fan is ZERO until you do something with them. There is no inherent value in amassing fans.”
The overlooked key to getting fans to like your brand is to be a brand worth liking.
21 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Jerry Holtaway says
I recently got an email from a “real” friend, who also happens to be a Facebook friend, asking me to support his entry in a Dockers social program (my friend wanted funding for a day care facility).
I clicked on the link to vote for my friend and came to the Docker’s campaign Facebook page and voted.
You could vote every day, so the next day I returned to the link but was informed I had to “Like” Dockers to gain entry!
Well, sorry, but I don’t “like” or “Like” Dockers – never have, never will. Yet some bean counter no doubt felt great because I “Liked” Dockers for the ten seconds it took me to help my friend.
However, immediately after voting the second time, I “unliked” Dockers (did the bean counter count that too?)
I felt “used and abused” by this tactic.
Dockers want everyone to think they are good for offering $100K for good purposes, when it is clear to me it is money spent to churn up the “Like” factor of the Dockers “brand”.
The reason I like your blog is you give me a fully formed thought, it isn’t just random stuff that’s going on in your head. The post will be about a subject that I am interested in and have a passion for. The high quality of work you post gives me an insight that I place a value on, it demonstrates you respect and place value on my time. This is the type of engagement that attracting fans on facebook currently lacks and a potential insight into why companies find it so difficult to monetise their fan base.
And, there is a fine line between undercommunicating and overcommunicating to fans. There’s nothing worse than receiving a mass of superfluous brand statuses in my newsfeed!
So true! The main question you should always ask before using social media: if your brand was a person, would you like to be friends with it? Regardless of the industry you’re in as a brand, some brands are so cool you want to be associated with it as a person! Using your facebook audience for co-creation could be a nice next step to involve your fans into your actual product making and make them great ambassadors. Ben & Jerry’s is a good example.
L H says
The principle behind this discussion brings to mind a fresh example of Pepsi versus Coca Cola, in which the former recently lost market share to the latter (http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112372/diet-coke-wins-battle-in-cola-wars). The Pepsi Refresh project has been a household conversation for a few years, but at the end of the day, it’s not moving the ideal number of PepsiCola cases off of shelves in the stores. Similar to engaging in Facebook (and other social media channels): companies can put a lot of time and effort into amassing fans and followers in the social media realm, but unless the relationship compels the “fan” to take action – e.g., buy the product – the effort is likely futile for profit or market share growth.
As I read this I cringe at how many of my marketing peers are forgeting the basics- Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics. The quest for Fans is a tactic and often if you ask “why ?”, there is never a good answer.
Chris H says
And many companies only want to amass “fans” because they want to push more of their traditional marketing and sales rhetoric in their faces. In the social space you must have genuine conversations, not sales pitches. Brands must provide authentic value to their fans in order to succeed.
Give me a few fond fans over a thousand forced fans any day. As is usual with you, this panel is a brilliant summation of what’s wrong with much of brands’ use of social media. Too much of Facebook engagement is pressure-based and promotion-based rather than relationship-based. We’re forced into “liking” something we don’t, and when that happens, we’re not “fans” – we’re hostages. Rather than amassing forced fans, brands should focus on recognizing people with genuine affection for their company or products – and celebrating them authentically.
Josh Resnik says
Really enjoyed this cartoon, as I do with all of Tom’s cartoons. I also strongly question the value of “hollow” Facebook friends for brands. It does not make any sense in terms of getting people to act and support your brand. With that said, my understanding of the mass push to “buy friends” on Facebook is to help your standing in Google searches. I am not an expert on this, but as I have been talking to SEO firms over the past few weeks, they all have asked about the number of Facebook friends my company has and have said this is one driver in Google’s mysterious criteria for ranking companies on free search.
Rich Becker says
Perfectly framed. There is no value in Facebook “fans” for the sake of having Facebook fans. Either you attract customers to your little corner or you do not. I have a client that got sucked into the fan scheme and he captured 2,500. We manage a side project site and organically picked up 1,000. He’s dropping them at a pace of 25 a week. We’re attracting about 50 per week. Sooner or later, we’ll meet in the middle and he still won’t have any real interactions.
Of course, to leave a comment on your facebook page, one must first “like” you… Discussed this recently with a friend who owns a niche shop with loyal following – many “likes” on facebook, yet he uses it only as a platform to push updates, offers, etc. People are responding,starting their own conversations even, but he does not acknowlegde or join in – ever. No less rude to me than ignoring them in your brick and mortar shop. Treat your “likes” this way, and it may end up costing you in the long run.
Christina Pappas says
Something I think brands are missing the point on is that Likes enable user-generated content. We should not be trading for, buying or playing bait-and-switch tactics to gain endorsement. People should want to do it because they want to do it. Our responsibility, as I see it, is to enable them to do it easily by adding plug-ins like the Like, Share, Retweet, etc. buttons.
It cannot be denied that there is a value behind a Like. What that value is, who knows for sure. And when you drill down to a Like at one company vs. another or one industry vs. another, it gets even cloudier.
Oran Parker says
I’ve noticed a couple of greasy spoons that have the good ‘ol “Like Us On Facebook” sign in place. I often go visit their page from my iPad to see what added value “liking” their page might bring. Sadly, I usually find that it’s a ghost town. The ones that do keep up aren’t all that interesting, and others misrepresent their business entirely. Why, if there’s a fly in my soup, would I want to “like” your business further? Chances are your just giving me a soapbox from which to shout, “HEY! There was a fly in my soup! What are you going to do about it?” And if it’s a poorly managed page, I’d bet that my rantings would go unnoticed. “Like” you say? I’m not so sure. Oh… by the way. Would you guys go “like” my Facebook fan page? http://www.facebook.com/parkerbrandcreative. (heh)
Thanks to everyone for the great debate and insights! I offered to choose one comment to send a signed print at 5:00 PST. I liked the comment banter so much, I think I’m going to make this a weekly tradition. For this first week, I’m going to send a signed print to all 21 readers who kindly shared their thoughts on my blog or Facebook.
Big thanks to Jerry, Priz, Sheree, Norah, L H, Tim, Chris, Katya, Josh (who recruited me to General Mills years ago), Rich, Angela, Christina, Oran (who I always love reading), Rose, Andrea, Aditya, Bob, someone at Know Your Target Market, Claudia, Sabrina, and Aimee. Your comments help turn these cartoons into conversations. I have emails out to most of you to get your mailing address.
I wasn’t able to contact Rich, Bob, or Know Your Target Market (either emails bounced back or couldn’t get through on FB, so please send your mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you get this.
I noticed that you acquired 74 new fans from this weeks cartoon. Mmm…..very clever. And I am one of them, although I can’t work out if you just played me or not. Irrespective, I can probably say that my worth is zero. Unless, that is, you trick me once again and I find that I have bought a Marketoonist tweed jacket. Bravo.
Unless you know WHY or the BENEFITS of being a fan, how can you buy into the Like thing? With many Facebook pages the business/product/service is largely about WHAT is being hawked, but they don’t get to the compelling piece. Those on Facebook that I have agreed to Like, are few in numbers and have earned my trust.
By the way. I only just read your incentive scheme AFTER posting my comment. Honestly. (But I still want a print).
I absolutely love the idea of a Marketoonist tweed jacket. Particularly one with elbow patches. But I know you and your clothing habits far too well to imagine you wearing anything that’s not from a thrift store…
This piece is great and shows to me how many organisations just don’t get engaging with their customers. There seems to be so many organisations that seem to characterize their customers as passive recipients of stuff. There are many brands that I do like. I’d even go so far as I’d like to help. Maybe there is now room for a facebook button that says like-and want to receive stuff on a passive way, like-and I could really help you on your cause to make things better?
Social media is still showing marketeers that producing and responding to real connection is what matters.
Love what you are doing Tom.
Terrific post Tom!
Captured or connected, a fan knows the difference.
I can see it coming, “FB Fan Grab Backfires”, as empowered fans unite. “Brand Strip” – to fan or not to fan.
Thank you for your insight.
Evaluating the popularity of a brand by # of fans or likes is an easy trap to fall into. But are there genuine ways to engage in meaningful conversations on Facebook as a brand with your fans without sounding like a personal blog or shameless self-promoting ads?
Calling all for sightings of great brand FB examples.
Like most things in life, there is no manual!