The Facebook Influence: They Really, Really 'Like' You

by , Sep 23, 2011, 1:00 PM
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Facebook did an Apple this week. It whipped up anticipatory enthusiasm for its CEO keynote and drafted off of a slew of rumors and intentional or unintentional leaks from partners. Much of what Mark Zuckerberg rolled out the other day at his f8 conference was aimed at enhancing the Facebook ecosystem in order for people to stay longer and do more on the site. They were trying to move the social network ever closer to becoming a platform unto itself, an uber-portal of sorts.

But what behaviors already exist on Facebook? What are people doing there and why would advertisers want to target them? An interesting study came out recently from Chadwick Martin Bailey on just this topic. The company, sponsored by Constant Contact, collected information from nearly 1500 adults online via questionnaires earlier this year. Here are just some select tidbits of usable information about the Facebook denizen that can be of value to marketers.

More than half of Americans online now (52%) spend at least an hour a week on the social network. Age, of course, is a primary determinant of time spent, with 36% of the under-35 crowd at the site for 11-20 hours a week compared to 23% of the 50+ segment. Still, even among the oldest segment, only 36% don't use Facebook at all now.

The under-35 group is the sweet spot not only for engagement with the platform but with brands on the platform. For the younger users 56% say they engage with brands vs. 34% overall. But across the board, Facebook is the one social tool that people use most in interacting with brands. And perhaps more to the point, the "Like" is not as cavalier as we might assume. The CMB survey found that 78% of people who Like a brand only do so for 10 or fewer. In fact a third of them only Like one or two brands. The brand Likes appears to appeal most to existing customers, since 58% of Likers are already users of the brand. But the discount offer is also the lure for 57% of this group. Interestingly, the Like gate, in which content is kept behind a Like, is only modestly effective, since only 31% say it drives them to tap the button.

Fandom has its privileges, however, and it may be well worth fighting to attain. The survey found that among those who became fans of a brand 51% were more likely to buy from that company after they had Liked it. In fact it is the older segment that shows the greatest propensity to follow up their Facebook interest in a company with purchases.

The sharing of brand content itself on Facebook is not the prevalent form of engagement users have, according to this survey. Only 17% say they actually share information and posts from a Liked brand with others. The effect, however, is perhaps subtler and may be occurring offline. Among those who Liked a brand, 56% said they were subsequently more likely to recommend that brand to others, with 16% saying they would do so for all brands they Liked and 40% saying they would recommend only a few of the brands.

Which is another way of saying that even in this environment where fandom is registered by the mere press of a button on Facebook, when consumers say they "Like" you here, to channel Sally Fields for second, they may really, really like you after all.

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