Facebook Fans: Do They Like You and Leave You?

Jan 10, 2013

Facebook is undeniably one of the leading channels for consumer engagement. Your favorite brands have anywhere from 100’s of thousands of Facebook fan “likes” to staggering numbers in the millions. Still, as marketers, what kind of insight does this really reveal from an engagement standpoint? Do your fans like you? Or do they love you?

In 2012’s article When Social Media Becomes Anti Social, I discussed the importance of analytics and recognition to leverage social media. Marketers have an obligation to interact with their consumers on a deeper level if they want true engagement. New studies have generated interesting statistics, thus proving that engaging with Facebook fans on a more intimate and strategic level is absolutely essential in order to be successful in the market today.

According to a study from Napkin Labs, a mere 6% of fans engage with a brand’s Facebook page via likes, comments, polls and other means. Of those fans, average engagement was so scarce that it could be measured as less than one “like” (study was conducted over the course of eight weeks). Similarly in the twittersphere, Sling Digital conducted a study where they analyzed active Fortune 100 companies on the social network. Sling also concluded that engagement tended to drop off for brands with more followers. The moral of the story: quality is more important than quantity.

In Napkin Labs’ study, fan engagement was analyzed across 50+ brand’s Facebook pages who had between 200,000 to 1 million fans in various industries including consumer electronics, retail, etc. Results proved that the quantity of likes was not equivalent to the level of consumer engagement. In fact, research showed quite the contrary. The more Facebook fans a brand has, the lower the percentage of engagement. For example, brands with between 900,000 to 1 million fans had 60% less engagement than brands with 500,000-600,000 fans. Could this be attributed to the fact that those brands with lower numbers of likes are attempting to reach their smaller fan base on a one-to-one level?

True social media engagement is driven by “superfans” and their desire to interact with the brand by sharing their experiences with friends, coworkers and peers. The relationship a brand has with its 20 most engaged fans is equal to that of 75 average fans. If a superfan likes 10 posts, shares five pieces of content and comments once on a monthly basis, word-of-mouth marketing dominoes, creating more superfans in the process. The Facebook fans who “like” it and leave it, generate neither engagement nor frequency of desired behaviors including purchase, visits, etc.

Marketers should move forward in 2013 by utilizing strategic analytics to gain insight into their superfans and target accordingly, thus providing the recognition these consumers have earned with their loyalty. I’m not saying that the fair-weather fans should be completely ignored; having a small connection with the remaining customer base is still a significant win. They did say that they liked you, right? By tiering and engaging your Facebook fans the same way you would within any loyalty program, brands can influence desired consumer behaviors. When reviewing a brand’s Facebook page, be mindful that the quantity of the likes is something you can certainly count, but the quality of the consumer engagement is what you can count on.