The internet is abuzz with people talking about ROI and figuring out what the ROI of social media is. They are trying to determine the value of their Facebook fans or Twitter followers. And while these are valid thoughts, the bigger question is what ROI are they providing for their social media fans and followers.
You see, social media marketing is all about getting your message out. Fan count is just a metric used to quantify the reach of a message. But inbound marketing uses creative marketing strategies to focus on generating value for your fans so that they come looking for your message. A lot of people use these ideas in the same sentence and often in the same tweet, but they are on opposite ends of the theory spectrum. The big differences become evident in the long run. A fan who doesn’t receive value isn’t going to remain a fan, or won’t remain engaged for very long.
I like to ask the question why would people want to be your fan on Facebook? You need to really think about that question because it’s critical to provide value to potential fans. What motivates fans, and what motivates quality fan engagement, is the fan gaining something from their interaction with your page? What they gain could be discounts, perks, praise, attention, or even just the satisfaction that comes with supporting your cause. But they have to gain something, or at least feel like they gain something. If people just become a number then the numbers will get smaller and less meaningful.
Let me draw up a little scenario that helps illustrate why creating value is more important than cultivating large, cold fan bases. Say you have 10,000 Facebook fans. If you post a message on your page, there are a maximum of up to 10,000 people who could see your message in their news feed. Even the most engaging brands on the planet with the highest edgerank scores will never get their message to 100% of their fans, but the potential is still there. If you post a message and no one cares to interact with it then your edgerank score will diminish and fewer and fewer of your fans will see it. Facebook’s algorithm will see to that.
On the other hand, let’s say you have another Facebook page with 1000 fans. Your potential reach is 1000 people. But let’s say that you post something really valuable and engaging and 100 of your fans like or comment on it. Now your edge rank score is going to be higher and more of your fan base will see it. However, each fan that interacts with your post opens up a door for their interaction to appear in the news feeds of ALL of their friends. Not all of their friends will see it, but they potentially can. If your active 100 fans each have an average of 500 friends then your potential audience has just increased to 50,000. All because you posted something valuable.
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