Do Facebook Fans Really “Like” You?

They like you, but do they really like you?

I just returned from Podcamp Montreal, where I attended several thought-provoking sessions which I’ll write about over the next little while. One of those touched on an interesting question:

If someone “likes” your company on Facebook but hasn’t tried your product, what is that worth?

Not in terms of dollars, but in broader terms.

Are they really worth anything if they just like your ad, or promotion, or even your outreach, but haven’t tried your product or service? Is a fan of your marketing really worth anything?

On one hand, you could point to reports showing a correlation between Facebook fans and higher spending on products they “like.” The report above also indicate people are more likely to recommend those products to their friends.

The question is, though, is that connection just a correlation or is it actually causality?

  • Does liking something on Facebook cause you to spend more on a products and talk about them more?
  • Do people who would do that anyway search out the Facebook pages to like them because they’re such fans of the products?
  • Are some people just enjoying your marketing efforts?

I would suggest that while this would actually be very useful to know, there is actually value in all three of these scenarios.

If the people liking something on Facebook then recommend the product more and buy it more, then the benefits are clear, and your challenge becomes how to continuously engage them while recruiting more people.

If people like something because they already buy and recommend the product more than other people, then Facebook becomes a useful retention mechanism for your business.

If people like something because they just like the marketing, that puts them much higher up the CRM cycle, so you then have the task of moving them further along the funnel over time.

Of course, the odds are that a page’s Facebook fans comprise all three groups (and more). However, knowing that breakdown still matters – that’s where the community manager and the type of activities undertaken to drive new fan acquisition comes in.

What do you think?

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  • The funny thing with Facebook Like is the secondary and tertiary effect.

    It’s easy to see who likes you via your Page. It’s also easy to see what actions are taking place directly, either via Facebook Insights or Google Analytics. And this can help guide you in what actions and interactions should be taking place on your Page for maximum benefit all round.

    But, like I mention, it’s the second and third-tier effects that really make the difference. I’ve had new subscribers to my blog through a Facebook “fan” (hate that word) liking my Page, and their own network has then checked out the Page and the different outposts of mine.

    I’ve also seen requests for Facebook Marketing projects, because of the free ebook I gave away exclusively kn Facebook (companies are interested in similar approaches).

    And we’ve seen clients experience extra sales, from folks in countries like New Zealand, Malaysia, Italy and more. Countries they’ve never had customers in before, but now do because of relatives and friends of “fans” in these countries.

    So I think it can be less important if the initial Like is there; it’s the after-effect that comes into play that makes the difference.

  • Great question, Dave – and one we frequently discuss at my company.

    I truly believe each Facebook page should have their own metric and non-metric goals – and then develop programs and promotions to help them meet those desired outcomes.

    For instance, one of my clients is a military branch. Our primary goal is to drive traffic to the website, where they can contact a recruiter. We developed a content strategy to make that a reality – and it worked. Facebook now refers more traffic to their website than any other site, save for Google.

    Part of the content is promotional, discussing non-military topics, and it is a huge success in attracting new and different audiences.

    So, at the end of the day, we WANT them to like the page, but we’re most concerned on traffic flow to the website, especially since the target audience is constantly turning over for this client. A new recruitable audience exists for them every day.

    That’s just one example…each company should develop a similar goal-oriented approach to set themselves up for success.

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  • Thank you for the post, Dave. As a community manager, I’ve found it useful to see a breakdown of how liking something on Facebook can be valuable. Measuring social media on Facbeook has been a very hot topic recently, but I haven’t found a post that explains it concisely as you do. I will be keeping these points in mind as I draft future social media strategies.

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  • Great post Dave! Lots to think about, especially given my first week working in Digital PR.

    I will admit, I’m guilty of liking things and not always buying them. Prime example of this–Dove beauty products. I think the “Campaign for Real Beauty” is amazing and I do think they produce a quality product and that buying Dove products supports a company that values more than just dollars. So why don’t I always buy them? At the end of the day it comes down to a student budget. Until I set foot in the Edelman office last week I was a Starbucks barista, and while Starbucks is another great company to work for (and I still buy their products) after rent is paid, the student loan payment is made and groceries are purchased, Dove products don’t always make it on my shopping list.

    So I feel like “liking” something and maybe taking one of my Facebook friends with a bigger budget to their Facebook page, that I’m still supporting a brand I believe in until I can afford their products on a regular basis.

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  • I’ve often wondered this myself. I try to be an engaged manager of my company’s Facebook page, but there are very few people who will talk back to me, or share what they are thinking on the page. “Number of Facebook fans” is indeed part of my metrics dashboard, but it doesn’t seem to mean much, if they aren’t even talking back (let alone not buying/using the product/service).

  • Great article Dave, and definitely a hot topic. I think the more popular Facebook becomes, the more watered down “Like” is. People constantly like things with no intention of buying the products or even recommending them.

    Case in point, I ran a page as part of a promotion for a class I was teaching recently. Though about 110 unique visitors went to the page, and 50 liked it, none of the actual attendees had either discovered the class via Facebook, or even seen the Facebook page. Obviously results depend far more on other attributes such as the kind of product you’re selling, but I like how you break down the value of someone who “likes” the article.

  • Dave – that’s hilarious, I did a presentation on Monday and was talking about how I’d rather have zero Facebook fans and an engaged, loyal customer base than a million Facebook fans and no customers. I’m a fan of several brands (Etsy, Pepsi, etc) and I never really use or buy their products. I just think they’re either a cool company, or I just hit “Like” one day without thinking.

    I think the goal of a Facebook page should be to build up your existing customer base as fans, and then they can be your brand ambassadors – spreading the word to their Facebook friends by commenting and liking your content.

    Frankly I think the external “Like” button may have more value than fan pages ever will – I know I interact more on external sites than I ever will on Facebook itself.

    Sorry I couldn’t join you at Podcamp Montreal this year!!

    Erin

  • Hillary K.

    Interesting question Dave. The number of Facebook “Fans” a brand or product has seems like a useless metric if the fans are not actually supporting the brand (buying the product) or engaging in the brand’s marketing effort. A low number of engaged fans seems likely to trump a high number of unengaged fans in terms of the “worth”. Even if the fans are buying – or engaging by spreading the word to other friends – how would one measure whether this is based on the social media marketing effort or due to the fact that they already supported the brand (buying and spreading the workd) since this is why they “liked” the brand in the first place?

    • MKULTRA

      @Hillary K. Also to be considered, which you didn’t mention Hillary, is the psychological worth of a large number of fans to potential customers. If I go to a businesses web-page and see just 8 fans, I get the impression that there’s something wrong with their service otehrwise they might have more fans. That what I think marketers who use services such as http://facebook.getmorepopular.com/ are thinking about. It’s all about the “perception” of a business, not just the fans actual affect.

      Now, there’s pros and cons to this, but I’m just suggesting that this is what certain brand managers are thinking.

  • I definitely agree with this. Most fan click the like page button, but doesn’t really tried the product. It doesn’t mean they really like it. How could someone suggest to others about the product if you haven’t tried it first. Hope social media fans can read this in order for them to be aware of what the like page really mean. Thanks.