Why Most Brands Are Inadvertently Wasting Money on Facebook

2010 was the year of growing your fan base. Brands poured in millions to invest in getting more fans. Why? They read an article, the CEO saw that the competitor has more fans, or perhaps they believe that a Facebook fan is like a email subscriber- a long-term, permission based relationship.

But in 2011, we see brands that now have millions of fans not knowing what to do next and also being unable to either measure that value.

The quickest gauge of power is engagement rate. Take the total number of likes and comments and divide that by how many fans you have. Let’s say you are averaging 100 interactions per post and you have 200,000 fans. That’s only 1 out of 2,000 fans engaging with you, which is 1/20th of a percent. This is about average for brands, but is awful overall. We see some brands consistently hitting 1 percent. Why?

They haven’t let their fan base atrophy. They protect their investment by regularly feeding fans with that they want- content, special offers, interesting items- all the while being careful not to be overly promotional.

A fan page with one percent engagement on 50,000 fans has as much power as a page with a million fans but only 1/20th of a percent engagement. Which situation would you prefer to be in?

We have one sporting goods company as a client that has only a couple hundred thousand fans, while their competitor has a few million. Yet, our client has more likes and comments, plus more revenue, than the competitor.

Key mistakes:

  • Investing blindly in building fans for the heck of it, without a corresponding nurture program.
  • Running a general contest to drive traffic and fans without realizing this drives the wrong types of users and permanently polluting the fan base with folks who only wanted a free ipod, not your product.
  • Not measuring traffic to the website from Facebook or enhanced placements in organic search (yes, on Google, too, because of your Facebook activity).
  • Looking at last click attribution as the ROI of Facebook marketing.

Where are you in your Facebook fan lifecycle? Are you still building your base or maybe looking to now nurture fans and extract value? Maybe you are cautious and want to establish a social strategy before embarking on Facebook. Regardless, consider Facebook a multiplier of fan (real world fans, not Facebook fans) emotion. Better to attract and nurture the right people rather than the masses for pure bragging rights.

The value of your fan base is not $3.60 or some arbitrary value from an article somewhere. It’s the product of your nurturing efforts and ability to engage fans.

Interested in learning more about Facebook Marketing watch one (or more!) of our social marketing webinar series.

[This was originally posted on Search Media Insider on March 16, 2011. Dennis Yu is a frequent contributor to Search Marketing Insider.]

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