ePolitics recently asked, What Good is a Facebook Follower? The author questions how valuable Facebook fans really are. Although he explains their increasing importance:
“These days, corporate brands and nonprofits alike are diving into Facebook marketing — for a small indicator, look at how many TV commercials now drive potential customers to a Facebook page rather than to a company’s own website (ten years ago, it might have been a AOL page!)”
But he centers on what can you actually get these fans to DO? As a marketer or campaign manager, how can a Facebook follower be translated into a purchase, a donation or a vote?
In comparison to other online outreach, particularly emails lists, Facebook does’nt seem to match up. “For most nonprofits, getting 3-5% of their email list members to take a particular action is pretty good, meaning for instance that a list of 100,000 people should generate several thousand emails to Congress on a given issue.” Yet, “even simple actions posted on Facebook often have response rates lower by a factor of ten or more than the equivalent sent out to members of an email list, making an “easy” Facebook ask similar to the heaviest lifts you might ask of your list.”
One of the problems with Facebook is that if a fan missed that fleeting update on their bewsfeed then chances are you’ve missed them. It is much easier to catch an eye and attention with an email. It is argued that Facebook “liking” creates, “The “loose ties” that Gladwell believes undermine the medium’s ability to create change in the real world.”
This leads to the hard part. How do you strengthen those lose ties and create engaged followers who will act?
The author states that the least amount of resources should be invested into Facebook recruiting, because there are much better response rates and ROIs with services like Care2, Change.org and Google AdWords. Although no one can deny that Facebook is a great place to nurture interaction and conversations with and among fans, because we can’t yet figure out how to get those fans to mobilize funds should not be invested in recruiting them.
I agree with the author that Facebook fans’ impact is hard to measure and therefore hard to transfer into sales/donations/votes. Yet, I think Facebook is a general publicity tool that shouldn’t be neglected. The level of exposure that pages with high amounts of fans see only grows as more and more people join and act. Maybe the person who “liked” your last comment didn’t go buy Domino’s pizza — but maybe the person who saw that Joe Smith “liked” Domino’s Pizza’s comment gave in to his grumbling stomach and ordered delivery. As time goes on and more platforms emerge it will be harder to keep an active Facebook following, but until Facebook fades completely (which isn’t anytime soon) then a standard level of time and effort should continue to be invested.