Facebook Fans Worth $3.60? It Depends How You Engage Them

Wed, Apr 28, 2010

Social Media Marketing

A recent release of findings from a study by a social media company called Virtrue is making some bold claims about the importance of Facebook fans for the modern business. According to the findings, a Facebook Fan is worth $3.60, adding up to $3.6 million for dedicated fan pages that manage to recruit up to 1 million fans. According to Virtrue, this is the surface of what is possible.

While an interesting foray into the value of social media contacts, many are pointing out that these figures are highly optimistic at best and severely misleading at the worst. It’s important to note that this “study” was enacted by a company that is in the business of managing Facebook accounts for companies in a variety of different industries, and that they manage a staggering 45 million fans for their clients. Can anyone say conflict of interest?

That said, it does seem the data was pulled from samples in their client database, so that provides some encouragement in the fact that it was hands-on info and not abstract calculation. But how were samples chosen? And most importantly, how does Virtrue customer data differ from the typical Facebook campaign?

It seems Virtrue has an average of 1 impression on a wall post per each fan. So if they have 1 million fans, a wall post will get 1 million impressions. Here is the calculation used.

The most illuminating thing about this data, however, is that these are based on averages. While that makes perfect sense, and a study should be based on averages, it is also an indicator of the most important thing to keep in mind.

A poor Facebook campaign will focus just on numbers like these, while a solid one will focus on providing value. Those value producers are likely getting much more than 1 impression per fan on their wall posts because their message is being spread, and that’s the exponential value of social media marketing. But the people who get the wrong idea and think they just need a presence are going to have hideous results, and they are the ones dragging the number down.

As Josh Millrod points out in his article about this study on Search Engine Journal, “When working in social spaces, engagement is key.” He goes on to explain that even with a 100% impression rate your wall posts are lost in a newsfeed and these impressions are simply the result of them being stumbled upon in a chaos of other wall posts. In other words, if you don’t engage these people and they don’t spread your message, your impressions are all but meaningless.  

All that said, there is some relevance to this data. I wouldn’t go as far as to immediately assume a fan is worth $3.60 and thus 1 million fans worth $3.6 million (wow, that’d be nice) but what it does symbolize is the vast POTENTIAL found in social media marketing. There is certainly room to make some big money here, but the trick is to figure out how to engage and interact with fans in such a way that inspires them to spread your message to their own giant lists of friends and create something viral.

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This post was written by:

Anderson Lopes - who has written 6 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.