Value of a “fan” on social networks

12 May 2010|Leigh Marinner

Marketers over time have been searching for ways to measure the effectiveness of their spending. This is an extension of the ongoing conversation about the value of online ads.

Charlene Li and Brian Solis criticized Vitrue’s $3.60 valuation of a Facebook fan. There are two aspects to the topic. One is a desire the measure the value of investments in social marketing, however roughly. The second is the recognition that social marketing’s value is not primarily about ad impressions, but about the value of connection to the brand and engagement.

On the first aspect, tools and techniques to help companies to do a more sophisticated ROI analysis than counting the number of fans are needed. Measuring the effectiveness to their business of social media is important if companies are going to continue to invest in social media. But some of the same factors are present in current TV advertising. Looking at ads on the Superbowl, the effectiveness of an ad that has people talking about it for a week afterward (social viral dispersion) is much higher even though the cost is the same as another 30 second ad. Marketers don’t have good tools for measuring engagement.

Which brings me to the second aspect – the recognition that social marketing’s value is not primarily about ad impressions, but about the value of connection to the brand and engagement with it. In some work we did recently analyzing social engagement on health and fitness websites, there are wildly different amounts of engagement, measured by intensity of interaction, volume of posts around one topic, conversation threads, emotion of the word choices used, etc. So we need to develop tools that will measure these factors, not just number of impressions.

There is much to criticize about Vitrue’s $3.60 value of a Facebook fan. The biggest assumption they made is they think that every fan will see the 2x wall postings every day. I question this because the news feed is cluttered and moves quickly if you have a lot of friends that post—I wonder how many fans actually see postings from their favorite companies and actually pay attention to them. I agree with Brian Solis and Charlene Li’s opinion that the $3.60 value is misleading. But, as a marketer, making a start to valuing social media is better than doing nothing. As we can see, this has lead to the beginning of a good conversation.

prev next