Now that the era of social media is well underway, we are starting to benefit from the results of research and experience. This kind of data can provide a better picture of the social networking phenomenon and allow us to better understand its workings. Early last month the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science in Australia shared an insight into some of their research involving fans of the 200 biggest brands on Facebook.
The study was conducted over a period of six weeks, and it monitored activity around the "People Talking About This" feature on Facebook, which adds up the number of likes, shares, tags, posts, comments and all other ways fans interact with the brands' pages. They discovered that on the average, less than half of one percent of these brands' fans actually engaged with the brand.
That certainly sounds like bad news for all of us conditioned to think that engagement is one of the cornerstones of business and marketing success. A one percent engagement rate does not sound impressive at all, and any value less than that just seems absolutely abysmal. Is it time to pull the plug on your Facebook page and your other social media initiatives?
Before we decide,let me tell you about a certain Andrew Ehrenberg. Mr. Ehrenberg was a statistics professor whose family had escaped from Hitler's Germany to England in 1939. A radical intellectual, Ehrenberg left behind a number of academic papers and essays that refute many of the marketing laws we follow today, including concepts of brand loyalty, market segmentation, the effectiveness of advertising, the death of mass media and -- wait for it -- the usefulness of audience engagement.
One such denunciation argues that growth is not at all about cultivating a small but loyal user base, it is about getting products into the hands of as many people as possible, people who want nothing more than products that work and work well. So getting back to the alarming statistic about user engagement, you can remain confident that despite the low engagement rate of your Facebook page, your brand is not necessarily doing poorly in the marketplace.
In reality, the fact that your target audiences are apathetic may not have anything at all to do with how well they accept your product, it may simply indicate that the content you expose them to is not compelling enough to get them to engage. But as long as you succeed in expanding your reach and as long as you are able to make more people aware of your brand, you're doing good marketing and doing the good professor Ehrenberg proud.
Here are a few tips then, on how you can expand your fan base on Facebook.
- Work on your Facebook profile page and get more people to become your friends.
- Tap into your followers on other networks. Invite your followers on Twitter, LinkedIn and all the other social media networks you have accounts on to become your Facebook friends and like your Facebook page.
- Facebook ads are not free, but for a minimal investment you can get a good number of people to connect with your brand page on Facebook.
- Take advantage of the virality of YouTube videos.
- Ask your fans to invite their own friends and contacts. including those on other platforms.