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Seriously, What’s “A Like” Worth on Facebook?

A good friend who is the SVP of marketing for a very large Fortune 500 company recently asked me via email the following question(s)

Do you believe in the Klout score? If you were to set a KPI for success in social, would it be FB likes? and if not, what would you recommend?  My view on this is that FB likes is not the right metric, but I am not sure what is….

Great Question isn’t it?

Here was my protracted, elongated and expanded version of the original answer…

You’re views on the right metric are dead on. I’m surprised that there are still marketers out there hanging their hat on a metric based on total numbers only, but there are.  Lots of marketers have tried to peg the value of a Facebook fan/like in fact I recently read that when a Ticketmaster user posts a specific event they are attending, or may want to attend, to Facebook, it generates $5.30 of direct ticket sales

Another company called Vitrue, figures that bringing a customer on as a fan was worth between 44 cents and $3.60 in increased sales from the engagement that Facebook encourages.

The best KPI in social should be attracted to what you want to achieve. i.e. We’re going to use social to drive sales, for lead gen, for referrals, for bookings, for awareness through brand mentions etc. etc.. I don’t gauge success in social on an arbitrary growth metric of total likes, followers etc.. Initially marketers and myself included a number of years ago, thought that social success was reflected in growth of followers and likes but sadly though, you can’t. But it’s easy to get caught up in that.

Look at a Starbucks, who became early on, the darlings of social media and engagement because of the fact they grew to a million Twitter followers rather quickly. So it was assumed that a) Starbucks had mastered “social media” and b) Their “campaign” was successful because of their explosive growth in followers.  But what was that growth based on? In other words, what did Starbucks do to get the million followers? A massive push? Killer engagement? No. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was really because they are the brand, Starbucks. It just happened, but tons of pundits/people and social media consultants were looking at that million follower mark as social nirvana. As if SBucks had just rewritten the books on how to engage- when at the end of the day, they didn’t do anything other than just set up a Twitter account early on. It was just a number.

The question then becomes larger-What are you doing with the million plus followers? I think SBucks does a great job now of engagement but initially they were just as guilty as every other brand back then feeling their way around social. Push style engagement focused on growing fans, followers and likes.
I’m with you though- growing FB likes and patting yourself on the back for growth, doesn’t cut it. Now if marketers can tell us because of those likes we were able to convert them into x amount of bookings or sales, well now we’re getting somewhere. I know, there’s still that whole social branding for awareness thing that in a sense could be tied to the growth of likes, but then let’s measure it appropriately right? Let’s understand that we’re leveraging FB for specific and measurable purposes and work off of that notion.

While Facebook can provide real names of people who “like” a product, it doesn’t provide data to us on what sites are sending traffic to a fan page, how long your visitors are spending there and how they’re moving around inside the pages. No additional analytics services can be installed on Facebook pages thus we’re absolutely at the disposal of Facebook regarding these metrics.

I believe in what Klout is trying to do, maybe just not in the metrics they are using to measure influence. But right now the space is so nascent, what else is there right? A lot of brands are starting to attach themselves to Klout because they want to engage with those “uber” champions in their respective fields identified by Klout’s social metrics algo. Klout is breaking new ground in this space and I anticipate it getting better in identifying people who can move the needle for a brand.

Hope this helps

Marc

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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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November 2011
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