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What is the value of a Facebook Fan? A case study

Bulmers: Facebook fans are worth £3.82 more than non-fans

"What is the value of a Like?" is understandably still a common question. There's some interesting coverage regarding Facebook Fan value at the moment, the 'ROI of social media' is always a hot topic, after all.

Research conducted by TNS and We Are Social, working with Bulmer's Cider, found that brand preference was higher in Facebook fans than the control group - and that fans were more likely to pay more and recommend Bulmers to others. Sounds fairly obvious so far, yet Bulmer's wanted to know the actual ROI, something tangible, which is what makes it interesting. This is an outline of the methodology which aimed to look at the value generated by fans of the brand.

The research, unveiled at the IAB’s Great British Social Media Festival, which surveyed Bulmers’ Facebook fans and compared results with a sample of general cider drinkers, found that the average retail value of its fans on Facebook was worth £198.64 more to the brand a year than non-fans, that's 80 bottles and so £3.82 more to the company in sales each week, than non-fans.

Key take-aways

Of course there are many over-lapping reasons 'why', and if you wanted to say "It's only because…" then you probably could, Bulmers is after all a leading brand in that market now, there are factors that could easily skew the data somewhat (for example, raving Facebook fans are more likely to be really into the product).

It is also a relatively predictable outcome for a brand like Bulmers because they are working hard on their social media marketing. Social media is not (and never will be) about Facebook (or Google+, Pinterest, Twitter…), nor is it a sales promotion channel, it's about focussing on what's of interest to relevant people, and in social media these are most likely your existing customer base. This is why Bulmers are seeing the return, the why's and wherefore's aren't so useful, it's an integrated approach and it's working for them.

“[focus on] …concise targeting and making sure all marketing touch-points are integrated with social media"

Doug Cook, Bulmers brand manager

Five things to think about

  1. Focus on your existing customer audience, they're the real fans, it's what Bulmers are seeing in their ROI - I believe - it's not the social medium or Facebook, it's the fact they connect to a passionate customer base which happens to be done in Facebook.
  2. The Bulmers Facebook page has a real purpose, it's a point of fulfilment, an important place where other marketing activity drives people who are interested in the brand.
  3. Social media works best when properly integrated, for Bulmers this in the past has included using the Facebook logo on ad campaigns and also pointing consumers who had played a game via a poster QR code back towards its page
  4. Amplify social with advertising. This is important, advertising is not dead, it's just relatively useless in isolation (isn't most marketing). Paid-for ads have helped Bulmers attract more attention and increase the size of its Facebook fan base.
  5. Drive ongoing engagement. Bulmers post photos, videos and competitions to keep the brand front of mind. We know rich media gets at least twice the engagement of text only posts.

Here's the full We are Social presentation from the IAB’s Great British Social Media Festival:

Share your thoughts

  • HANH TRINH VIET commented on October 27, 2014

    Thank you for the analysis. I see that Facebook fan page is a good & useful tool to increase impact of a brand name, products and services. I try to create one for my website Vietnam overland tours .

  • P.K. Hunter commented on April 18, 2013

    The last slide is the most telling 🙂 (Who knows if it will impact actual business results–way to leave that question open). Also this experimental stuff is not sustainable, so in the end a stupid methodology to try and make a flimsy case. I doubt Bulmer’s actual business has gone anywhere despite all this.

  • Very useful to see some analysis of this. BuddyMedia did something similar a while back and there have been various other studies attempting to calculate the value of a fan. It’s tricky to do and will vary hugely between sectors. This study doesn’t really address the viral value of a fan which is one of Facebook’s big plus factors for brands. So I’d want to make sure any organisation factors that in.

    Whilst I do think its great that we attempt to quantify and justify our use of social media, I do think that applying a value to aspects such as brand perception, predisposition towards a brand, awareness and the like is challenging. Facebook pages are a form of online PR. They can have many benefits beyond the purely financial such as engagement and personifying the brand.

    Slide 16 seems to suggest that Bulmers has a 66.9% PTAT score. I find that hard to believe. This week the Page has nothing like that – I calculate it as 2%.

    I’m guessing that 66.9% is actually an improvement percentage or something similar.

  • Agree about overvaluing the ‘like’. I think what Bulmers proves is that it is about being integrated in Social Media activity and it is also showing that you have to be bespoke for measuring ROI dependent on your business & marketing goals. Using a ‘like’ as the be all and end all is dangerous

  • I was in a Target Market Analysis presentation with a client of mine with operations based in 8 countries…I was listening to a very experienced brand strategist using the number of ‘likes’ acquired by each competitor as a metric for social media ‘success’. It annoyed me to be honest, because, the value of a ‘like’ depends heavily on the demographic that you are targeting. eg. i have a client that has over 500,000+ likes and does little more than converse with their fan base, Facebook generates a few million $US in revenue for them, then i have another client that has just reached 200,000+ likes and they generate approx 50 million $AUS primarily via Facebook. The difference is one targets 40-60 year old male and females and the other targets 18-40 year old females. Lets face it, Facebook is mainly used by young women. if you have products/services that young women buy, then get your @ss on Facebook today, if not, then maybe you need to use a more multi channelled approach to market your product/service. I get sick of hearing soo much unfounded hype about Facebook and the value of a ‘Like’!

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