Saturday, April 3, 2010

Can Money Buy A Passionate and Supportive Community?

Loic Le Meur recently reported that an undisclosed company spent $500,000 for 300,000 fans on Facebook. This revelation led to a question about the measurement of success in social media.

Let me begin by saying, I too have purchased fans. Curious about the Facebook advertising phenomenon, I spent about $44.00 to run a test campaign. To date, the campaign has resulted in an additional 69 new followers. Looking at these numbers more closely, the cost per fan is about $0.64.

Since we are talking about real money here, Loic's highlight on the aforementioned brand really struck a cord with me. What does one do with 300,000 fans? What does one do with followers on Twitter? How does one benefit from spending half a million dollars if you cannot keep or grow this number?

The situation causes me to look at my own $44.00. What was my intention of growing a following? What are my goals? Does it really matter that one has a lot of followers or not?

On one hand, spending money to buy "fans" or "followers" feels an awful lot like buying friends. Although, it's not exactly what I have done. Most of the 594 "fans" on Facebook, and I am not big on the word "fan" by the way, are Facebook friends that I invited over from my private account. The $44.00 is realistically spent on advertising the group to those who may never have heard of it before.

At the same time, one has to ask, "How successful is this campaign?" Better yet, and this is inline with Loic's question, "How successful is this fan page?"

To answer the question, one has to know two things: a) The goal and b) success metrics. For Facebook, Loic brainstorms the following measurements:

  • Number of fans
  • Facebook page views
  • Number of interactions (Likes, comments, etc.)    

For me, I have never really been clear about the purpose of my Facebook fan page. In fact, part of the reason I created one was to better understand why I needed one.

Looking at the number of friends and family that have supported my Facebook page, I am pleased with the number. In fact, I am extremely grateful for those who repeatedly agree to follow me into new and uncharted places. Most never ask where we're going, they just trust me enough to sign on.

As it pertains to the remaining Facebook success metrics, I would love to see more page views and interactions. To date, I have connected my blog to the Fan page in hopes of getting more people flowing in. The next challenge is to introduce the right topics for on-going discussions and return visits. So far, I have experienced a few comments and "likes" here or there, but nothing substantial.

My observations reveal there are a hand full of supporters that make a concerted effort to comment or at least like much of what I post. My gut tells me to interact often with those that return regularly and allow the community to grow naturally. I agree. The Facebook page is simply a community with me as its host. In the beginning, I might be the reason people join, but my hope is that I can help connect others together through interesting conversations.

While the success metrics introduced by Loic may be how we communicate achievement, my longing is for deeper connections with those who continuously support me and my many ideas.

As it pertains to Facebook advertising, I would feel better about my successes if they were the result of fulfilling individual needs versus meaningless acquisitions. What do you think?

Until next time...

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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