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For major brands, Facebook Pages have become increasingly important. In an effort to be 'liked', many brands are promoting their Facebook URLs in television and print ad campaigns, and are enticing users with coupons and other promotions.

But those investing significant amounts of time and money into creating 'engagement' on their Facebook Pages might want to consider what they're getting in return.

That's because according to a study of 84,000 links posted across more than 5,500 Facebook Page operators in October conducted by Edge Rank Checker, Pages with more than 100,000 fans deliver a paltry CTR of 0.14%.

As TechCrunch's Josh Constine notes, that translates to .00093 clicks per fan, or 1 click for every 715 impressions. That's quite a bit better than Facebook's paid ads, and slightly better than most banner ads, but this is hardly the pinnacle of online marketing success.

Which again raises the question: just how much should brands be investing in their Facebook Pages? As noted, many brands are promoting their Facebook Page URLs in expensive television and print ad campaigns, preferring to drive consumers to an environment in which they have less control than to drive them to owned properties that can be optimized for conversions.

This increasingly looks quite foolish, and effectively represents the following strategy:

  1. Spend lots of money driving consumers to a platform where few will click on your links.
  2. ?
  3. Profit.

The problem is that companies seem to be underestimating the cost of their Facebook Page, and overestimating what they're getting in return. Demonstrating the cognitive dissonance brands seem to have is Constine's own humorous faux pas:

If they spend the time and money, brands like Porche, Netflix, and Old Navy can drive around 2,000 qualified clicks a day for free. [emphasis mine]

Needless to say, brands aren't going to ditch Facebook Pages, nor should they. But they do need to be realistic about what these pages can produce and what they're investing in production.

Accumulating hundreds of thousands or even millions of 'likes' creates warm fuzzies and can make it seem like a marketing campaign is 'working', but at the end of the day, warm fuzzies and fans don't move the needle; action that produces revenue is what moves the needle.

For most brands, driving action will at some point require fans to follow them beyond Facebook. Given how few are willing to do that, brands should be very careful about how much they invest in driving consumers to Facebook in the first place.

Patricio Robles

Published 16 November, 2011 by Patricio Robles

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

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (16)

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Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

Well the key strategy that savvy FB marketeers are pointing out now is that you make it very easy to sign up for the newsletter on the FB page. It's back to the same old, it's about getting the email address! Look for custom sign up pages that offer the newsletter sign up.

over 4 years ago

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Jim gilbert

Do studies take into account the offline or other non click advantages of building a community with engaged advocates??? What value does that provide?

over 4 years ago

Aidan Cook

Aidan Cook, Owner at Original Online

I'm all for a big sample in research, but can you tell us a bit more about the performance figures for the brands below 100,000 likes?

Like you say, some brands are viewing the likes themselves as being a measure of success - which means they don't really get social marketing.

So, those brands that have spent the money promoting their acquisition of "likes" distort the figures, because they have only collected disinterested, unengaged "rent-a-like"s (TM).

I'm guessing that there may be brands with a lot fewer likes who have significantly higher CTR because they are actually talking to their people when they speak, not shouting at a crowd of strangers.

over 4 years ago

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Elizabeth

Facebook is attractive because so many people already spend time there, but it's true that companies currently have no way to make a profit there. Consumers have to follow the brand outside the social media site if the company wants to make money. What if that weren't the case? I'm still on the fence as to whether F-commerce will ever become a big thing, but it would certainly fill in that question mark for the second point.

over 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

I should probably stick my oar in at this point and say that Econsultancy's own FB page has a fairly robust CTR (usually around 4.5 - 5%), but the interactions afterwards are often a mixed bag. Users from FB often download reports, but paid conversions are slightly lower than we'd like.

I'd be tempted to attribute much of this to content and the community building strategy that a large number of brands take on Facebook, keeping the audience gated on their page in many cases. Obviously there is value in this, most obviously from a PR angle, but as Econsultancy.com already has an active internal community we've always preferred to drive traffic here from external sites.

I'm convinced that f-commerce has huge potential and will be a major revenue source in the future, but Facebook users do like to stay on Facebook, so more companies may need to develop in-page storefronts to really profit.

over 4 years ago

Simon McClure

Simon McClure, Group Account Director at MotortrakSmall Business Multi-user

I feel that Facebook's main value add is around brand awareness, loyalty and customer satisfaction, rather than direct transaction and interaction.

It has a role to play, but it is so uncontrollable by the brand guardian that it can easily become a negative part of a company's activity. People power at its most effective in many cases.

over 4 years ago

Eric Merceron

Eric Merceron, Founder at Adfrog Consultancy

When will digital marketeer stop measuring brand effectiveness with CTR!!! To measure the ROI of Engagement, branding metrics like Brand Exposure Duration should be used, not performance based ones...

over 4 years ago

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James Robertson, Web Marketing Manager at www.venuebirmingham.com

I always find it amazing how much cognitive dissonance can exist in the minds of marketers; how much do YOU yourself engage with brands on Facebook? - do you ever (honestly) "like" a brand for any reason apart from entering a competition? - do you seriously enjoy talking to brands as if they were friends?

Then why would your customers?!

over 4 years ago

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JC

Having FB pages with lot's of fans may not drive high CTR's but what impact do they have on visitors confidence? Surely a site with 1000's of FB fans will increase consumer confidence and it is quite often seen a personal recommendation.

over 4 years ago

Aidan Cook

Aidan Cook, Owner at Original Online

@James Robertson - actually, yeah, I do "Like" a few brands on Facebook, but they are brands that I have emotional engagement with, or that reward my association with them in a way that is useful to me.

That's why I reckon the smaller, more niche, more intimate brands win proportionately on Facebook, and the big dull ones have to buy their likes.

over 4 years ago

Peter McCormack

Peter McCormack, Founder at McCormack Morrison

I'd rather have 1 email address than 50 likes on Facebook or Twitter followers as you can build a genuine 1 to 1 relationship. Let the hype bandwagon roll on...

over 4 years ago

Partha Bhattacharya

Partha Bhattacharya, Owner at 2WebVideo.Com

@Peter McCormack, that's right. But to get that 1 email address it is now essential to have finger in every possible pie, including FB likes and Twitter followers and of course luring with freebie on signup...

over 4 years ago

Artur Szalak

Artur Szalak, Online Product Manager at Populis Ltd.

50 likes on facebook can be converted into 50 email addresses. there are countless possibilities for marketers on facebook, especially now that you can display content in an iframe with your css and java. I think the problem very often is brands themselves that lack the idea how to convert that sticking to what they've done in the past. brands like starbucks that entered the aforementioned "bandwagon" succeeded for a reason - they are innovative and try out new forms constantly.

over 4 years ago

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Sam

Can they elaborate on what kinds of links these are and also where they are seeded?

Surely this low CTR is an artefact of the fact that only a small % of fans will ever explore the page once liked; the vast majority tend to only engage via status updates through their newsfeed?

Ergo, if links are on the page then CTR at a universe level are invariably going to be very low.

?

over 4 years ago

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Chad Wittman

@Aidan we studied all Page sizes. You are absolutely right, smaller Pages had higher CTRs. You can see all the data here: http://edgerankchecker.com/blog/2011/11/comments-4x-more-valuable-than-likes/

over 4 years ago

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SLAP digital

I think analysing CTR on Facebook is flawed. Firstly, most people have a tendency to stay on FB, bu as mentionned in other comments, users are very likely to click through within emails received because they left their email address on the FB sign up form.
Secondly with the development of the Fcommerce, soon you won't even need to click through anywhere else as the FB page might soon become the main point of presence of some brands (Zuckerberg's dream)

over 4 years ago

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