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How to Know a Good Fan on Facebook

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It seems that many of us are so focused on our own presences in social networks that there is little talk about what we expect from our friends, fans and followers (FFFs). My own company has been hyper-focused, however, on our clients’ FFFs, particularly “fans” on Facebook.

With the sudden change on Facebook from becoming a “fan” of a page to “liking” a page, there is some confusion as to the inherent value of “likers” versus “fans.” We’ve been watching closely to see if the act of “liking” is less powerful or important than “fanning.” So far, most users aren’t behaving differently. We haven’t seen an upswing in “likes” due to the terminology change nor have we seen any diminishing in “fan” participation.

But what are the qualities and activities of  the “fans” or “likers” on Facebook that we’re tracking? And what is providing real value for our clients?

Qualities of Good Fans/Likers

Here is a list of some of the most important qualities of fans of a brand’s Facebook Page. Some of these also translate to other social networks, including Twitter.

  1. Attention. When someone “likes” a Facebook Page, they are usually expressing their affinity for a product, brand, organization, individual or whatever or whomever is represented on the Page. But do they pay attention? In my mind, attention is, at its most basic, watching out for or noticing the status updates from brands in one’s newsfeed.
  2. Participation. Taking attention to the next level, a good fan responds to your status updates. They not only noticed but felt compelled to react in some way, usually with a “like” on the update or (better yet) with a comment.
  3. Interaction. Taking attention and participation even further, a good fan not only responds to your updates but comments on other fans’ comments.
  4. Leadership. There are some fans who rise to the top as organic leaders of the community that forms on a Facebook Page, most commonly on its Wall, but sometimes within Discussions. These are fans to watch closely and to consider rewarding over time.
  5. Loyalty. Once a fan is attentive, participates, interacts and start to take the lead in conversations, you are witnessing a powerful form of loyalty to your brand. They are going beyond simply being interested in the goods or services you are offering, but are willing to spend time and energy in the social space you’ve created to align themselves with you. Wow!
  6. Evangelism. Once you move past simple attention, your fans can easily become evangelists for your brand. What are you doing (in a transparent, generous and respectful manner) every step of the way to encourage this behavior? It is so easy to “share” what you like on Facebook. What are you doing that is worthy of sharing?

The Birth of the Social Media Superfan

In trying to encapsulate the power of the “good fan on Facebook,” I began talking with my clients about the concept of Superfan. This term is familiar in sports. The Superfan is the person who paints their body or displays fandom in some other outrageous way at sporting events.

The Social Media Superfan is the individual who is fully engaged with your brand via your social networks, most often on one network in particular, but in some cases across many of them.

For one of our clients, we were actually able to trace a number of Superfans all the way back to an event we helped to manage in November of last year. We handled social media for the event and our tweets were seen by one woman in particular, who then showed up at the physical event at a department store. The client was there with a Flip camera and videotaped the woman talking about how she heard about the event on Twitter.

Fast forward to our work months later to identify Superfans. We found that this same woman had recently entered one of the contests we announced via Facebook…and won! She was also one of over several dozen women who participated literally daily on our client’s Facebook Page. Not only did she pay attention, participate and interact, but she was a leader of the community. She visited the page every single day just to say hello to the brand, to us (the social media team behind the brand’s page — we are very transparent about who we are and what we are doing), and the rest of the community.

We were floored to discover the power of these Superfans and their influence over others, to not only “like” our client’s Facebook Page but also to evangelize the product and to get others to buy it (in this case, perfume).

So what did we do? Acknowledged them and rewarded them. This was an unexpected move in their minds — and even just the personal acknowledgment of their presence and loyalty sent them over the moon. The fact that they were then going to receive a “thank you” gift in the mail was far beyond their wildest dreams. This was truly a win/win for everyone.

What are you doing to identify your Superfans? And what are you doing to reward them?

stockxchng image by mzacha

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise

12 Responses to “How to Know a Good Fan on Facebook”

  1. I like the term “Superfans” – sums up what we all want quite nicely! I also like the idea of acknowledging and rewarding those Superfans… Something I’ll have to look at more closely for my own marketing… :)

  2. This is a refreshing look at developing Fans from a Public Relations perspective… It seems that most, if not all, of my FB colleagues are focused on generating customers out of fans. Nothing wrong with this, but Aliza offers a much needed reminder about the power of FB to offer authentic advocacy.

  3. Compelling story. However, the missing piece for most companies will be where does the engagement of SuperFan turn into Customer? Your graph displays the evolution from Potential Customer to SuperFan, but never converts to Customer.
    The challenge with Social Media is the feedback/engagement endorphin. There are plenty of FFFs (to use your term) who are thriving off the engagement and while arguably they may have positive impact on a brand, I am interested in statistics showing how many don’t actually engage with the brand as customers but only keep it virtual.

    • Big neglect on my part not to mention at least the Superfans I’ve described above are already customers – most purchased at least one product either right before or soonafter “liking” the client’s page. Some are Supercustomers as well, buying at least one of every item in the product line.

      I think an interesting breakdown would be how many bought before connecting with the Facebook Page, how many soonafter and how many over the long term. Will look into how to measure this and report back.