Fans are priceless

There is a lot of noise out there about the “value of a fan”. Yesterday I read yet another study on it. It’s a question many companies have, and one not many have an answer to.

By fan in this article I mean Facebook fan, Twitter Follower or YouTube Subscriber

Some larger companies are affording expensive studies into the value of a fan for their business or brands and there was one study I read recently that even managed to assign a monetary value, a Return on Investment, to a Facebook fan. Apparently a Starbuck fan is worth $217 to Starbucks.

But if you are a smaller brand or business, the cost of conducting a study like that far outweigh the monetary value of a fan. And is the monetary value the only value we should care about? How can we change the way we look at Social Media and still come up with a “value”?

As Facebook is a social platform I believe we should first and foremost focus on how being a fan of a (brand) page impacts on attitude and brand equity. Most companies have Facebook pages now, so instinctively we must all know that having such a page somehow increases engagement and improves brand equity. (Even if many of us cannot afford to measure brand equity, we all trust that when we talk to people regularly, they must start feeling more positively about us).

I suggest we get ready to move away from the single-minded focus of generating a large following. We cannot continue to focus on how many fans we have got. The deeper question is; why do I want to win somebody as a fan, what is the value in it? Value could mean different things to different businesses of course. Maybe for your business a fan is a great source of insight, or perhaps all you want to focus on is increasing their loyalty, advocacy or engagement. Creating a genuine and active community is a far better metric for success than having merely lots of fans.

There are a few obvious things we can all do that are likely to contribute to a more engaged fan;

  • Update regularly (but not inundate)
  • Supply regular (brand) news
  • Offer new product info (fans like to be in the know)
  • Make your page “look” nice
  • Offer promotional stuff (but don’t devalue your brand too much)

So perhaps instead of talking about “value of a fan” we should be thinking more in terms of “value to a fan”. If we offer a lot of value to them, they will inevitably become more valuable to us. Value does not always refer to money, but the social value we can derive from having a group of loyal and engaged ‘fans” is priceless.


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