So, just what is the value of a Facebook ‘like’? Does it have any real worth in terms of increased sales and customer loyalty, or is it simply a nice ego boost and a way of showing you are more popular than the competition?

It’s a difficult question to answer and is a frequent topic of debate at social media conferences.

In truth the value of a ‘like’ varies wildly between different industries and sectors, but many companies have started to work out exactly how much their Facebook fans are worth.

Cider brand Bulmers says its fans are worth £3.82 a week more than non-fans, or £198.64 per year, and ticketing company Eventbrite has worked out that a Facebook share is worth £2.25 compared to £1.80 on Twitter.

In terms of traffic, data from Hitwise shows that each new fan acquired by retailers on Facebook equates to 20 extra visits to its website over the course of the year.

Now Play.com has analysed the shopping behaviour of its Facebook fans and found that, on average, customers who had engaged with one or more of its Facebook campaigns spent 24% more on the website than customers that hadn’t.

Furthermore, shoppers that made their first purchase on Play.com referred through Facebook spent 30% more than an average customer in their first year of using the website.

Play.com has also reported an 80% year-on-year increase in volume of sales directed through Facebook. Sales that can be directly attributed to Facebook now account for over £2m of gross merchandise sales (GMS).

This increase is likely to be driven in part by a large increase in it number of Facebook fans, which have grown from 75,000 to more than 350,000 in the past 12 months.