Marketers have yet to agree on the value of a Facebook fan, but comScore argues the question may be missing the point. Instead, the research firm suggests marketers should consider reach and frequency of brand impressions shown to fans as well as their friends. In a study of unpaid Facebook impressions by three brands - Starbucks, Southwest Airlines and Bing - comScore measured the impact of brand exposures reaching friends of fans, rather than friends alone.
According to "The Power of Like: How Brands Reach and Influence Fans Through Social Media Marketing" study, conducted in May by comScore in conjunction with Facebook, for every fan of a top 100 brand, an additional 34 friends of fans can be reached through an exposure to the fan, or liker.
Twenty-seven percent of the time spent on Facebook is with the newsfeed appearing on users' homepages, which surfaces brand interactions by their friends. The study shows that users are between 40 and 150 times more likely to consume branded content in the newsfeed than to visit a particular brand's page.
Among the three brands studied, Starbucks garnered the most reach through earned brand impressions. Starbucks generated 156 brand impressions on Facebook for every one pageview of the coffee purveyor's page. Bing had 45 for every fan page view, and Southwest had 42.
The study also suggests that brands should consider impressions shown to fans and friends of fans along with ad impressions alone. While the boost was minor for Bing and Southwest, Starbucks created 52,365 earned brand impressions on Facebook in addition to its 81,652 display ad impressions, an increase of 64 percent. Starbucks has over 24 million likers on Facebook. Bing has around 1.7 million, and Southwest around 1.6 million.
"This amplification in social media brand impressions is largely attributable to Starbucks' ability to leverage a larger Fan base and its modest ad impression volume relative to Bing and Southwest," notes the study.
An average of 16 percent of fans are exposed to content from a brand that posts five of seven days, says the study. One more day of posting to the Facebook page would increase reach among fans by around 2.5 percent. About 12 percent of Facebook friends are reached by a status update from a friend, adds the study.
While comScore aims to reveal the value of brand impressions on Facebook beyond fans, research firm Millward Brown and its digital arm Dynamic Logic want to help brands better understand the people who like them on Facebook. They devised a FanIndex rating as a way to quantify the opinions of fans regarding brand pages and posts.
Like comScore, Dynamic Logic suggests brands should look beyond the number of fans or "likes" it has. The firm did not reveal specific numbers, but it said some brands with fewer fans had high ratings on its index.
The full study from comScore and Facebook is available for download here.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014