I'm told daily that its imperative that I set up a fan page on Facebook. Brands of all sizes have done so. Like Twitter, I know the number of one's followers can assist in spreading one's message virally.
But isn't a fan page really just a puffed-up outlet for ego gratification
and an opportunity to dupe ourselves and the public into believing that
we get something out of renting a billboard on Facebook?
Spacey & LettermanThe more I think about this, the more I am reminded of a recent interview David Letterman had with Kevin Spacey. When asked about social networks, Spacey said that with 800,000 followers on Twitter, he now gets lots of people saying "hi" to him. Not having to ponder too long on the actor's revelation, Letterman replied that, to achieve the same results, all he needs do is take a walk down the street.
This begs the question: Are 800,000 people really following Spacey, or do millions of fans simply connect on sites like Twitter and Facebook because its the thing to do? Is this truly a form of engagement for a brand whether its a celebrity, a company's product or an individual?
Yes, I guess if you are a B to C company, and you offer fans discounts, new product launches, contests, sweepstake drawings and entertaining videos, there is something in it for the fan. But do those tactics really engage the customer or do those fans merely seek you out for all the freebies? Take the department chain Sears for an example...
Sears Facebook Fan Page
Does their fan page really build brand loyalty? Am I going to remember Sears tomorrow when I'm shopping for an item I can purchase cheaper elsewhere or closer to my home. Most likely not.
As much as Facebook likes the world to believe it has moved beyond its youth oriented roots, according to Quantcast, it estimates over 50% of its demographic remains college students. Since students have low disposable income and usually ignore advertising in favor of communicating with each other, how does a Fan Page benefit a brand or an individual?
If you are contemplating a Fan Page to simply attract the same friends or followers you have on other social networks, aren't all you are doing is just duplicating efforts with existing folks that already know about you. Yes, you have a greater opportunity to post graphics, videos and content detail as to what you're involved in or trying to promote, but how many of your followers really care or more importantly have the amount of time to sit and absorb it all.
Research from Sysomos and TechCrunch demonstrates it's not easy being popular on FB when 77 percent of Facebook Fan Pages have under 1000 fans.
Sysomos analyzed 600,000 fan pages on Facebook and came up with the distribution curve in the chart above. The vast bulk of fan pages have between 10 and 1,000 fans. Only 4 percent have more than 10,000 fans, and less than 1/20th of a percent have more than a million fans. It breaks down as follows:
* 95% of pages have more than 10 fans
* 65% of pages have more than 100 fans
* 23% of pages have more than 1,000 fans
* 4% of pages have more than 10,000 fans
* 0.76% of pages have more than 100,000 fans
* 0.047% of pages have more than one million fans (297 in total).
And dissimilar to Twitter, where popularity is correlated with how many times you Tweet, Facebook fan pages tend to their update their status only once every 16 days. On Twitter, you follow someone because you want to hear what they have to say. On Facebook, you fan them just to show your support. According to TechCrunch, "too often, it’s a throwaway gesture."
A Fan Page also requires lots of updating to keep your individual and/or brand profile intriguing and interesting enough to attract and maintain followers. Similar to Web sites that are not promoted through SEO and other search marketing tactics, a Fan Page that remains static is not going to engage your fans over the long haul. "If you build it, they will come," does not apply here. If this is your assumption, visitations to your site will show less and less activity over time.
So the question still remains, are Facebook Fan Pages actually a case of the emperor has no clothes? Do we follow trends just because social media groupthink tells us to do so? Or should we report Facebook to the authorities for indecent exposure? Your thoughts and feedback would be greatly appreciated on this topic... particularly if you think you're exceedingly popular or just like parading around au natural!