So What Is The Value Of A Facebook Fan?
So what’s the value of a Facebook fan? Is there some kind of complicated mathematical formula scrawled across a dusty blackboard in the Facebook offices? Can we realistically assign some kind of dollar figure to every person who likes a Page? How many of those people are even people? How many of the people who are people will ever actually properly engage with the Page? How many of the people who are people who properly engage with the Page will end up purchasing the product or service you’re marketing as a result?
Yeah Will Hunting, how do you like them apples?
I value the comfy confines of basic sanity far too highly to attempt to solve that problem. But I believe I’ve solved at least one riddle: If you want to build a Facebook community that has any value at all: Advertising is not the answer.
Yes, the value of a fan may be an incredibly slippery concept to grasp, but the value of a ‘fan’ that isn’t engaged is pretty easy one to nut out: A big juicy zero. And let’s face the music; the majority of fans gained through Facebook advertising usually do not offer a great deal in the way of quality engagement.
I will throw in a quick disclaimer at this point and say that Facebook advertising can be useful. There are times that you may need to increase your level of exposure very quickly, additionally, advertising can yield terrific results on the back of a well constructed and engaging campaign. But what people need to realise is that engaging content is the far more crucial ingredient. And this is hardly thanks to the ‘content marketing revolution’ that is really more buzzwords than it is a new and unique concept.
Let’s have a look at the Australian operated interest Page “Boss Hunting” – https://www.facebook.com/bosshunting. Run by a team led by Jack Slade, the Page delivers what it describes as “visual gratification”. Content is almost exclusively high quality photography, gleaned from a variety of sources across the interweb. The page pushes out content on average 3 times a day.
The Page has never needed to advertise, its large fan base of 156,000 people can be attributed exclusively to the team’s dedication to sourcing and sharing the high quality content for which the Page has become known. Whilst the Page’s growth has been rapid (Boss Hunting began in early 2012), the approach is one of a slow burn mentality. Do something exceptional and let the people come to you. The admin team is also very liberal with the “Ban” button; evicting people who make comments that push the boundaries of “gentlemanly decency”.
The Page experiences an exceptionally high engagement rating (often between 15%-20% talking about this). Likes consistently reach the 3,000 mark and it’s not uncommon for shares to number in the hundreds.
As a point of contrast, examine one of the most popular Pages on Facebook: MTV. The Page boasts just over 41 million followers however, of that number the engagement level sits just over 1%.
Now I’m far too respectful of the ever-shifting nature of social media to make a definitive statement, but could it be that maybe, just maybe, Boss Hunting has struck upon the method for cultivating a valuable Facebook community?
Because of its success, Boss Hunting has only just begun to take the first few steps in commercial direction, curating special offers from businesses who have, in much the same way as the fans, been drawn to Boss Hunting. However the real value of the Page lies in the community sense of ownership and their direct engagement. In April 2012, the Boss Hunting team ran a ‘crowd sourced’ campaign for what would become their logo. The result was 142 entries of (mostly) high quality design work from within the Boss Hunting fan-base. There was no prize within the campaign, no iPad giveaways, simply the opportunity to exhibit work within the community.
This is the value of a strong community. Not how many cans of soft drink they buy (if they’ve come to you because they legitimately like you then chances are they already enjoy your product). No, the value of a community from a commercial perspective lies in how that community can be harnessed. If the community is strong, it can accomplish some fairly impressive things. In this regard, Boss Hunting has only hit the tip of the iceberg. There’s gold in them thar hills.
The caveat is that Boss Hunting is still in the early stages of identifying what its business model is: should it be another advertising channel? Is it a business to itself – could it work from affiliate payments for advertising the services of the photographers it shares the images of? Only time will tell.
Yes, Boss Hunting has its differences to most commercial organisations, but there is absolutely no reason why most, with a little creative thinking can’t endeavour to take the Boss Hunting approach and slowly work to build a strong community. Shift your expenditure from advertising and focus on the creation of high quality, relevant content and campaigns that focus on user-experience. You may just find that your audience finds you, and we can all agree that earned communities are far more valuable than bought communities.
Matthew Cox is a strategic consultant at Dialogue Consulting, and spoke to Jack Slade about his experience creating Boss Hunting. No commercial relationship exists between Boss Hunting and Dialogue Consulting.