Study finds Facebook branding poor at converting light buyers into loyal fans, only 1.3% of individuals who 'like' brand discuss, share or engage with it; researcher recommends companies should spend more time getting light buyers

THETFORD CENTER, Vermont , January 30, 2012 (press release) – Advertisers use Facebook Likes as a kind of social media “Nielsen rating,” but the ratings are disappointing. Only slightly more than 1% of Facebook users who “Like” brands like Procter & Gamble or Coca-Cola actually engage with the brands, finds marketing researchers Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. Engagement can include viral marketing, like posting a clever ad from YouTube.

As AdAge describes, the Institute used one of Facebook’s metrics, “People Talking About This,” to track likes, posts, comments and so forth about the brands. The Institute tracked the metric for 200 top brands over six weeks. What they found is that 1.3% of those who like a brand bother to discuss, share or otherwise engage with the brand. They click the Like button for the brand, then largely forget it.

The numbers get worse. Subtract new Likes from the figures, and only .45% of those who Like a brand actively engage with it.

The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute concluded that Facebook engagement preaches to the choir; those users who do engage were largely sold on a brand to begin with. Facebook branding is poor at converting light buyers into loyal fans. The Institute cautions against "putting a disproportionate amount of effort into engagement and strategies to get people to talk about a brand, when you should be spending more time getting more light buyers."

Perhaps a better use of Facebook is its "Featured" advertisements, that sit above the right-column ticker. The ads use polls, videos and so forth for immediate, opt-in engagement.

Interestingly, eMarketer reported today that 97% of marketers agree that social media provide value and benefits to their businesses. “We’re trying to get people out of the mindset that social media is just for pushing your messages out," said a spokesperson, "It is about communicating, but it’s also about listening.” With financial services, a Charles Schwab engagement is far more high-touch than is a retail engagement. In sharp contrast to the Ehrenberg-Bass findings, 44% of marketers in the eMarketer report find Facebook fans valuable in recruiting other customers, and 18% said Facebook fans have higher conversion rates and make more frequent purchases.


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