Didn’t you get the invite?
Just as it is told that vampires cannot enter the house of a mortal uninvited, it has long been believed that marketers should use Facebook page likes as an invitation to the users’ newsfeeds.
Many tried to estimate what this invitation was worth, and the value varied significantly depending on how the invite was perceived. But the common denominator for all was that, for each fan you acquired, you had one more set of eyes to broadcast to, when you sent out a message.
For an epoch in Internet time, this idea of permission marketing held true, since people had their 130 friends, it was possible to stuff around 20 friendly brands into their living room comfort of a newsfeed before reaching the Dunbar ceiling. But people got more friendly, added more friends to the party and the decibel level of the many conversations needed curating.
Facebook turned down the volume with Edgerank and for brands their conversations were suddenly turned into whispers.
Today studies claim, you reach 12-16% of your fans and if you want to reach the rest, you can add sponsored stories to the mix. Traditionally, and yes on the Internet you can call it tradition if it’s more than a year old, sponsored stories were meant for friends of fans, to increase your fan base by using social proof. Now it seems Facebook wants you to use them for reaching fans and non-fans alike.
Do you feel the breeze?
Fan count today holds a resemblance to the barely clad ruler in The Emperor’s New Clothes. The tailor promised you a magnificent dress with magical powers and you ended up having nothing to show but an empty bag of vanity. Unfortunately, this vanity metric is still the de facto KPI of marketers today. Though engagement is getting attention, and it is shown that 25% of engaged users are not fans, the money is spent weaving the fan cloth of fairy tale illusion.
So what is the fan base actually good for?
Before you lose faith in Facebook as a great advertising platform and stop trying to gather more fans, here are a couple of selling points that can still be made about the fan base:
An indicator of interest
Studies link the affinity of fans to more purchases and higher engagement. By deciding to click like on a brand’s page it is imprinted as a small part of the user’s identity: “Since I indicate I like this brand I must live up to this”.
Learn from those closest to you.
Use the fan indication to understand which interest groups you should target your efforts at.
Ask for old-school permission
Create initiatives on the page where you can ask for the e-mail. Though the message won’t stand next to photos of distant relatives in the newsfeed, you can build social affordances into the mailing lists as well.
To better understand this new paradigm of social marketing, you can read this post entitled: Facebook’s Social Brand Philosophy