What’s the Real Media Value of a Facebook Fan?

Facebook made some significant changes to its algorithm this week; changes that many are touting as a double edged sword. In light of these changes we thought we would share with you our thoughts on a questions we are asked often: “What is a Facebook fan worth?”

We are asked by clients, we are asked by suppliers selling third party ad products within the platform and we are asked by Facebook itself. The problem is that this is the wrong question. We care as much about what a single fan is worth as we care what a single impression is worth, the measure is too granular. What we really need to understand is what a fan BASE is worth and this question is much harder to answer because the number fluctuates constantly.

We can, however, get much closer to a real media value if we stop looking at the perceived value created by Facebook (impressions and reach) and start looking at actual value (engaged users and clicks on content_. The recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm suggest that users will see less of content they don’t care about and more of the content that is relevant to them. On the surface this is a good thing for brands because it will eliminate a ton of reach that may not have been terribly well targeted (read: the user doesn’t care about the content_.

This also brings to light a bigger point: is Facebook in the process of redefining what a “fan” of a brand really is?

For several years now the primary value proposition of the platform from a brand perspective has been the ability to offer direct access to a group of people who have put up their hands and said “I Like this brand”. Pages were built, fans were acquired and content calendars were rolled out to engage these new “fans”. Now though, this change signals that amongst your fans there is a subset of people who are more interested in your content. Simply being a fan isn’t enough anymore. Now you need to find your “super fans”.

Perhaps this is a comment on how small of a commitment it is to like a brand on Facebook. Perhaps it is an indication of how fragmented user attention is on the platform. Either way, brands must now be asking themselves how much they are willing to spend to find out if their fan base is capable of being engaged or simply not interested in their brand because, as things look right now, it may be much harder to reach these people through organic posting from now on.

What do you think?