I did some experimenting with Facebook fan page interaction. Before to do it I searched around for some good resources and advice, so if you stumble upon this post I will save you time and link some interesting case studies:
What we are talking about here is fan engagement, or fan page interactions, and to make it clear from the beginning (since it’s my third post debunking Facebook marketing effectiveness) let me just repeat I have nothing against Facebook but skepticism is my second name.
We are not the first to wonder how much a facebook fan is really worth, as an example take this interesting thread on Quora.
In this interesting study of syncapse a per brand valuation of facebook fans varies from $70 for Coca Cola to an astonishing $400+ for Zara.
When this article on mashable got out, reporting about a study of vitrue.com (now part of Oracle), attaching a price tag of $3.60 to your Facebook fan a lot of discussion arose, for instance the reputable searchenginejournal was outraged, come on, how can you value a Facebook fan so little (or so much)? What about engagement? So let’s talk about Facebook fans engagement.
I like Facebook, I don’t use it much, but I like it, and I have nothing against Facebook as a marketing tool. In fact I am so intrigued by the many articles I read about the great success some companies are having using Facebook for their marketing (and about how much companies are investing in Facebook advertising) that I keep repeating myself there must be something wrong in the way I am using Facebook.
That’s why I tried everything in the past year: simple Facebook ads, retargeting using custom audience, email collecting with coupons and giveaways, post promotion, likes campaign, and so on…
By the way collecting emails works, if you design the landing page on your website in a convincing way, you test few different images for your Facebook ads (remember the mantra, A/B test everything), and skim the audience a little bit targeting interests group close to your industry; you may end up getting emails around 0.80 cents each.
But here I want to focus on fan page engagement.
The Federalist did a great job at apply a scientific method to their testing, and in their results lays the first big fact. Facebook do cap your post exposure to incentivate post promotion through ads.
The second fact come from my personal testing, posting to fan page external links with a nice big image get a good chunk of exposure, but only if you diversify the root domain. In other words if you keep posting external links to your website, like product pages, promotions or your blog interesting posts, you will see your reach decrease abruptly.
Facebook wants companies to build a fan base within Facebook, they don’t want those fan to move out of Facebook clicking external links.
In fact my little tests seems to lead to the conclusion:
Facebook algo penalize fan page posts with external links to your website.
Facebook allow you to put the Like button everywhere on your website to collect your visitors as you fan in your page.
Facebook wants companies to drive traffic to Facebook fan page, not viceversa.
Once you have collected fans you must produce content on Facebook, posting to your page, to engage them.
Facebook wants you to generate content, and does filter your content to expose the best one to Facebook users.
Facebook newsfeed algo penalize promotional content, we all know Facebook users doesn’t like promotional content, the good old example of someone entering a pub and yelling to sell shoes to friends watching soccer and socializing is a good example of how effective it is to run Ads on Facebook.
Facebook wants to sell you ads to reach your own fan through post promotion.
This is perfectly legit in my opinion, your Facebook fans are first Facebook users, if you want them you have to pay.
The two-part tariff make sense too, you want to collect Facebook users who likes your brand in one place and interact with them? You pay. You want to sell them something? You pay.
If you are after branding, it make sense, you can find a lot of people on Facebook, you can engage them, and remind them you exist, your products are out there, and blah blah.
It’s like TV Ads, those things we thought were part of the past because we had that fantastic thing called internet, where you can track everything, where we have metrics and metrics, where we can tell who viewed, who clicked, who bought, who snorted, and when.
If you are after sales, and you measure Facebook fans engagement in terms of ROI, CR and CPA, you are probably going to be very much disillusioned.
But let me remind you why:
It’s fantastic, they get your visitors and your content for free, plus your money as a bonus.
I really believe it’s a fantastic business and I should buy some Facebook stocks.
Oh… Your facebook fans are not worth much, I am sorry.