Chapter Five – Friends, Fans, and Followers
Chapter 5 of Social Media Analytics deals with one of my favourite Social Media topics “What is the Value of a Fan?”
What is the value of a “Facebook fan”? Is it $0.00 per Augie Ray of Forrester Research, $136.38 per Syncapse, $3.60 per Vitrue, or $259.82 per McDonald’s.
These are questions that every marketing focussed entity must ask and answer in justifying the ROI model of their Social Media Campaign.
Calculating the ROI of a Social Media Campaign is very much an actionable equation given specific parameters that are valued, formulated, encapsulated, calculated, and evaluated.
However, the real answer is hidden well behind the numbers that get generated from the multitude of platform providers, who will gladly outsource a solution to “solve” your dilemma.
You see, Numbers LIE! Yes you read that right, NUMBERS LIE!
We are living in a world where you can acquire, yes acquire, the numbers to match any and all targets your “follower-based” marketing campaign wishes to generate.
Don’t believe me, Google “Buy Followers”, or better yet Let Me Google That For You.
The honest truth is that the numbers are insignificant unless you put them into the context of the specific outcomes you wish to measure and evaluate.
You can come up with every possible equation to answer the question of what is the value of a click, visitor, fan, follower, subscriber, or friend.
To determine the value of a “fan” is a fallacy, that in my opinion throws to the wind the very principle behind social media.
We are unique human beings with our own behaviour patterns, our own circle of influence, our own power of amplification, and above all else, our own model of determining whether we value what should be the most important factor to your campaign.
So the real question should be “what is the power of engagement, and how can your organization generate a positive return of value that can be measured on the bottom line of your spreadsheet?”
Marshall Sponder formulates that the value of a fan is equated using five factors:
- Earned Media Value
- Cost Offset of Fan Acquisition
Marshall goes on to elaborate on the meaning of each of these measures. However, the key theme that seems to exist across all of them is participation (i.e. engagement). Once a fan is acquired, their level of participation both as an individual and as an influencer of their tribe dictates the true outcome of the value equation.
How a corporation “collaborates with its clients” (or fans) truly dictates the earned value of that particular follower. This by nature is an extension of the engagement process. Without first engaging with your potential client, you will fail at collaborating with them.
In the world of sales and marketing, engagement represents influence and collaboration represents a call to action. To simply expect a call to action purely based on an individual liking your page, is the biggest misconception that plagues most ventures in social media.
A year ago (almost to the date), I was the guest of The Customer Experience Show. To this date, that episode still ranks as their top downloaded episode.
It was during this interview that I publicly stated that “Media fundamentally is all about Exposure, Influence and a Call to Action.” I went on to further state that “Social Media scales the level of Call to Action to the Three Degrees of Connectivity.“
Where analytics play a large part in calculating the “value of a fan” is entirely based on the consistency of the measurement across campaigns. Only by comparing actions and reactions of those campaigns against previous “consistent” measurement, can we truly get value out of systems that provide a formula and model of calculating earned value.
This model of “consistent” measurement versus accurate representation has been around for decades.
In radio, television, print and other traditional media, we have been paying samplers to equate for us the “reach” of our campaigns in those mediums. The sad truth is that those numbers are based on a similar flawed model. You simply cannot determine the true reach and level of engagement by sampling 0.00222222222 of the population.
Similarly, you cannot expect measurements to be treated with respect if the algorithms are modified from campaign to campaign.
Recently Klout made some drastic changes to their algorithms. Were the old algorithms flawed? Are the new algorithms better? Who knows? What people will always remember is that Klout failed to provide a consistent measurement of “online influence”. As such, it will take numerous new campaigns using the new algorithm to determine the “new value” of a Klout number across campaigns.
Marshall Sponder took a page out of Scott Stratten’s mantra, when he outlines the fundamental model to drive fan engagement. I am speaking of course of “awesomeness”. It is the awesome that gets talked about and shared.
The major advantage of Social Media over Traditional Media is the transparency of Peer Pressure. As your friends see what you like, they are more likely to like it as well. Remember “Social Media (2000^2000) Provides an Exponential Reach that Traditional Media (2^2) cannot.“
So to “fully leverage peer pressure” you first need to acquire the fans and then provide them something that they will want to engage in. Upon engagement, you can then focus on collaborating with them towards a call to action.
Marshall provides some insight as to how best engage your fans on various platforms based on a study by ExactTarget and CoTweet. To best pass on this knowledge, I have opted to quote directly from page 89 of Social Media Analytics.
“Twitter followers are most interested in getting information about a brand or future updates on a brand product. Twitter followers are also more likely to purchase or recommend a brand than e-mail subscribers or Facebook fans. Meanwhile, Facebook fans are motivated more strongly by discounts and promotions than by any other factor. Given these findings, it is tempting to think that form follows function, that the medium profoundly affects the message. As users interact with information differently on each platform, their interests, behavior, and motivations vary.”
I will leave you with two more quotes from Marshall Sponder that illustrates where Analytics play a large role in determining “fan value”. The key as he highlights is business integration, as numbers by themselves mean nothing as NUMBERS LIE!
When working from the business goal out, a convention is needed that shows which data are needed to track ROI information.
The caveat, or gotcha, is that the metric(s) may still not be truly useful or accurate, because consensus is lacking from standards bodies such as IAB, WAA, and CIPR.