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Uncovering the Facebook Factor

With over 800 million active users, Facebook has firmly entrenched itself as a social media powerhouse. So it’s no surprise that brands are trying to dissect, quantify and measure how Facebook can unlock valuable customer components, likeloyalty and share of wallet.

A recent report from Forrester Research* took four prominent brands — Best Buy, Coca-Cola, BlackBerry and Walmart — and found that Facebook fans are much more likely to purchase, consider and recommend brands compared to non-fans. In addition, it found that Facebook “fandom” had the largest impact on purchases. For example, the odds of a Best Buy Facebook fan purchasing the brand are 5.3 times higher than a non-fan, while the odds of a fan recommending the brand are 4.7 times higher and those considering the brand for a future purchase are 4.0 times higher.

Don’t underestimate the power of a recommendation.

Marketers should focus on the recommendation impact of fans. Facebook fans are far more likely to recommend than non-fans. Having a Facebook fan base of brand advocates is powerful. And a brand’s Facebook page provides an excellent channel for influencers to spread positive word of mouth buzz. When marketers are looking at where they should pinpoint their social media efforts, actively targeting fans to promote the brand to others is a good place to hone in.

So which came first? The customer or the Facebook fan?

All of this encouraging data begs the question … Are consumers buying your brand as a result of their Facebook engagement? Or were they already brand enthusiasts who simply clicked the like button? A lift in brand interaction metrics from Facebook fans means fans are advocates. As you watch your fan base grow, are you seeing a correlation between your brand and their purchase behavior? Here’s where you can put real numbers to the social media realm.

The relentless pursuit of the likes.

It’s tempting to jump to the conclusion that since Facebook fans are more likely to purchase brands they “Like” on Facebook, that companies should invest heavily in campaigns designed to add fans to the fold. However, this is not the case. A company’s Facebook fans have an affinity for the brand, but not necessarily as a result of being a Facebook fan. Perhaps it’s because of years of in-store experience, or outstanding customer service, or because of the breadth of products on your shelves. Who knows? We must as marketers resign ourselves to accepting that being a Facebook fan is potentially merely a reflection of their already-existing brand advocacy. And that’s okay. It’s just fine to accept that you don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg then move on.

Forging Your Own Facebook Factor

As you consider how you move your social media dial, take the idea of a Facebook Factor into consideration and learn as you go about what your individual brand’s factor means for your business.

  • Consider your Facebook fans as a parallel measure for your brand’s advocates.
  • Your brand’s results will differ based on the context of your brand. Every brand is different; there is no standard number at which to aim.
  • Profile and target your Facebook fans, then tailor your marketing strategy for them. After all, these are the cream of the crop when it comes to customers. They represent your highest-value relationships.
  • See what makes them go. Find out what resonates with your fans the most, from content to discounts, see what drives engagement that reinforces them within your customer life cycle.

No matter how you choose to engage with your Facebook fans, the key is to engage. These worthy brand enthusiasts are just sitting there waiting and hoping for your attention. Why not give it to them and continue building this gold relationship? For more information on how to create a social media strategy that builds on your brand advocates, contact the experts at Customer Insight Group.

* Forrester Research “The Facebook Factor”, April 9, 2012
jill Manser