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Loyalty trends and best practices

Are Your Facebook Fans the Best, or the Worst?

by Matt Ellinwood
October 31, 2012


How well do you really know your Facebook fans? Sure, Facebook Insights gives you basic demographics, but it leaves most questions unanswered. Do you know whether your fans are good customers? Could they be bad customers?

Facebook Pages
Many brands and retailers have learned how to use their Facebook fan pages as a customer retention tool. In fact, 84% of a typical brand's Facebook fans are existing customers. As marketers have learned through trial and error and crunched the numbers, proof has emerged of the real results marketers can achieve by tapping into Facebook fan bases. ComScore published research that translated the social amplification effects of reaching fans and friends of fans this past winter, and the research showed spending lifts reaching 30% among fans and friends of fans against a control group not exposed to Facebook content.

At 500friends, we've found surprising results while digging into Facebook fan data. Our Social Dashboard divides a retailer’s Facebook-connected customers into segments based on their purchase behavior and analyzes every data element available in the Open Graph. We can see the top brand interests of any customer segment, and  a retailer can clearly identify the top interests of its top 20% customers.

This data can be a powerful validation of your Facebook fan engagement strategy. For example, PetFoodDirect has done a fantastic job of building a community of fans who are very engaged on Facebook. The fan community posts pet photos and creates thousands of shares and comments. Were we to peek at PetFoodDirect's Social Dashboard, I'd bet we'd see a clear picture of a valuable customer.

Petfooddirect Facebook Example

But this is not the only result that can be uncovered by digging into this interesting data. A mid-size office supply retailer found the opposite result. When we looked at their worst customers, their bottom 20%, the retailer’s own page was the most popular Facebook “Like.” How could that be right?

After doing some digging, we noticed that this retailer almost exclusively pushes discount offers and coupons through its fan page channel, and it makes perfect sense that over time this would cultivate one type of fan--one interested only in discounts. Facebook pages drive behavior, and it matters what you post.

If your top customers are your top fans, the task is to appeal to them and give them reasons to engage. Your goal is to make every customer a loyal customer, and to give them consistent reasons to advocate on your behalf.

If your Facebook fans are not your best customers, it’s not the end of the world, but it is a signal to change your engagement strategy. We’ve already seen that publishing only one type of content--discounting and coupons--isn’t the right path. You need engaging content aimed at your loyal base, and here's a quick list of where to start:

  1. Look at the interests of your top customers, and you have a ready-made list
  2. Ask for feedback directly
  3. Offer rewards and recognition for advocacy
  4. Run contests, sweepstakes, or give away prizes--but remember to play to your audience’s interests
  5. Track your results and change course if you don’t get the results you want. Eventually, you’ll strike gold.


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