Why Moms Blog
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Facebook Fan: $3.60 Real Friend: Priceless

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

Adweek: Value of a 'Fan' on Social Media: $3.60  The findings are based on impressions generated in Facebook's news feed

Can you spot the problem word in that headline? 

It's "impressions."  Another example of outdated Mad Men thinking applied to our virtual world.  Placement, impressions, eyeballs...whatever.  

Social media specialist Vitrue, which aids brands in building their customer bases on social networks, tried to put a media value on such communities.

The firm has determined that, on average, a fan base of 1 million translates into at least $3.6 million in equivalent media over a year.
 
The company's findings are based on impressions generated in the Facebook news feed, the stream of recent updates from users' networks.

Vitrue analyzed Facebook data from its clients -- with a combined 41 million fans -- and found that most fans yielded an extra impression. That means a marketer posting twice a day can expect about 60 million impressions per month through the news feed.

The article then goes on to explain their scientific approach (which is a bunch of industry-speak blah-blah if you don't work in or with an ad agency).  The money quote (pun intended) is:

"It helps [marketers] justify the spend they're making, especially in acquiring a fan base and engaging that fan base," Strutton said.

Ah! What could be a powerful tool for building real relationships is neatly reduced to a way for marketers to justify the spend they're making.  

However, I can see a CEO asking, "What spend? How much does it cost to bring up a page on Facebook?"  Of course, the valuation was done by a company selling their social media solution, "All of our solutions sit on top of our industry-leading marketing platform, which provides rich features and functionality, rapid deployment and solid infrastructure for optimal performance."

I'm sure all that costs a pretty penny.

I'm sorry, but I don't think I'd want someone who can cram that much marketing speak  into a single paragraph advising my company on my social media strategy.  To be fair, Vitrue could be very good at their actual client work...I just can't tell it from their old-style pitch.

Search Engine Journal notes, "This statistic puts a value on 1-way communication and totally overlooks the core of a good Facebook campaign."  The post then goes into a detailed review of the real Facebook value model, beginning with: 

Engagement

When working in social spaces, engagement is key.  Lets say you have a million fans and you post daily.  By some miracle you get a 100% impression rate, but only 5 likes and 5 comments.  The bulk of those million impressions came from people scrolling through their newsfeed where your post is likely sandwiched between posts by friends, other brands and in the worst case scenario a note that a friend has engaged with your competitor.  Few intelligent media buyers would pay $5 CPM for this kind of cluttered and shared text-only inventory.

Hmmm...so maybe we should be looking for quality connections, not quantity junk? What an idea!

As for fans versus friends, I'm a "fan" of several companies and groups. I routinely ignore their news and seldom, if ever, visit their page. It was very easy to become a fan on a whim. Simply click, and - ta-da! - it's done.  But, I'm busy...and I give far more credence to my actual friends who make recommendations.  I'd bet there are millions just like me. (You also have to consider that - just as with Google ad clickers - apparently avid fans may be folks who have too much time on their hands rather than actual viable customers.)  

As Josh Millrod sums it up in the SEJ post,

For all I know, your Facebook fans are worth $3.60 each, but probably it’s got little to do with impressions and much more to do with meaningful interactions with your brand.  My guess is you’ll never know how much they are worth, unless you are running some seriously kick-ass, water-tight eCommerce machine!  All you can really know is that people who regularly engage with your brand and find those engagements pleasant probably like you a whole lot more than the guy who’s sending them two messages a day because he read an article about how much money they are worth.

What he said.   And spammers? I am NOT worth $3.60, so please don't bother. You'll only hurt your client, particularly if you hit me on an especially cranky day. I may write about both you and your client - and not in a good way.  

Comments

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TJ

Interesting perspective on the $3.60 value. You are right there is SO much more to a relationship than just impressions. At it's most basic, Vitrue is setting the value at the cost it would take to buy those same number of impressions. And for all the relationship and opt in reasons of Facebook the 'real' value will vary.

The other math they completely missed was if you can save $3.60 per year, that has a much higher 'real value'. You would have to invest between $36 and $90 to generate earnings of $3.60 each year. So, the value is much higher. For more on this, we also posted the math and other factors impacting the value here: http://icreatech.com/2010/05/facebook-fans-valued-at-3-60-each-try-90/

Great post, thanks!

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