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Facebook is the king of social media, and eager to tap into a 500m-plus strong audience, brands have flocked there to reach consumers on the world's most popular social network.

Setting up a Facebook Page gives brands the ability to collect 'fans' and to reach out to them directly. Some of the world's most recognizable brands (and individuals) have millions of fans, a potentially powerful marketing asset.

But what's the real value of a Facebook Page?

More importantly, what's the value of the outreach and marketing messages it facilitates? Robin Davey, head of music and film development at a company called GROWVision, decided to find out. After tracking the response to a Facebook status update with his own account containing 913 friends, he looked at some popular Facebook Pages:

The Black Keys have 800,000 fans and they get around 800 likes per post, although they did reach 7,000 when they said 'Lotsa Grammys".

Justin Bieber has 22,000,000 fans and gets between 25,000 and 50,000 likes per post.

Mumford and Sons have 1,300,000 fans and have recently pulled an impressive 17,000 likes on one post that simply said, "TOUR!!!"

But how impressive exactly is that?

Well the Black Keys, at 800 for the less popular posts, works out significantly below 1% of their fans choosing to like it, and just under 1% for their most popular post. Bieber's rampant fans achieve similar numbers. Mumford's impressive number is actually only just above 1%.

Davey's believes the results call into question Facebook's value. If a relatively small portion of fans will even 'like' a status update, how many will click on a link, or take some other more meaningful action?

Probably not, he suggests, meaning that Facebook isn't a "make or break" platform.

On the other hand, it's not clear that 'likes' are a good proxy for success here. As one commenter notes, "The problem is that engagement can't always be measured. Just because someone didn't 'like' a post, doesn't mean that it wasn't effective".

This is true: likes of status updates probably aren't important to most brands, in and of themselves at least. What's more important: whether Facebook is making some contribution.

How can brands determine if that's happening?

It's all about developing strategy and setting objectives and goals. Brands that are on Facebook just for the sake of it probably aren't achieving much of substance.

Yet brands that know why they're on the site and are executing a thoughtful strategy can create KPIs that can be measured to determine success or failure.

In some cases, Facebook might be a branding tool, in others a platform for commerce or direct response. The KPIs that matter depend on what the platform is being used for.

From this perspective, I'd argue that we've moved well beyond the days when it was easy to evaluate whether a Facebook presence or campaign is successful or unsuccessful based on relative comparisons of simple metrics such as 'likes' of status updates.

When it comes to Facebook, results are strategy and campaign-specific.

Patricio Robles

Published 21 March, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2390 more posts from this author

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David Sandusky

There seems to be more valuable post like this one about actual value. At least I'm seeing more anyway. Measurement of the medium and ROI, you know, sales. Many stats are starting to show that 1% action as you do in this excellent post. Turns out 1% is what we see published as typical comment to visitors on a blog (2% on forums). My site shows 2% participation and 1% conversion (conversion needs to improve). Another business we run has way less traffic, no participation and better conversion than most small business I know. When it comes to facebook, I ask if that is the community brands care about when it comes down to conversation? Would you rather have 1% on FB or on your own brand?

over 5 years ago

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William King

I personally believe that the facebook is a platform where you can target your loyal clients, customers and users. Besides the response of the status even if it is not too much still you can have the idea about the trends of your members by analyzing the different responses on your different statuses. I consider facebook as a very powerful tool to introduce your product or service to the targeted people very easily.

over 5 years ago

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Dave Blackburn, support at Marketing Quotes

Difficult one really. 99.9% of people that use facebook are social users that update about their gym class, their dinner etc. Indeed the 'potential' to tap into an audience is huge due to the number of people that use it - but not sure how much business would result.

over 5 years ago

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Ad Planner

Would be interesting to know how much it would cost to reach those 17,000 Mumford and Son's fans to tell them they were having a tour through other means.
Given the wastage in all communication channels, I would imagine the cost would be 10's of 000's of $'s, which starts to make a free Facebook status update look pretty appealing !

over 5 years ago

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Noelle Leahy

Interesting perspective. Please remind me what Justin Bieber is famous for exactly?

over 5 years ago

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Mark Rogers, CEO at Market Sentinel

We have looked at the relationship between the number of newsfeed impressions created through interactions with some popular fan pages, and the change in fan count on the same day. Plotting this graph over several years from one particular group, we noticed that newsfeed impressions drove up fans in the early life of the page. Thereafter, it had little effect. Some days with hundreds of thousands of newsfeed impressions resulted in virtually no change in membership, or even in a decline.

What we concluded from this is that after the novelty effect of a page has begun to wane, membership growth depends on the types of interactions which are reaching newsfeeds. If they are low-quality responses they may send users away. On the other hand, interesting, meritorious content keeps users coming back for more. It boils down to whether the page appears to offer something of value for both existing and new users.

over 5 years ago

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