One of the first questions any marketer will ask in the first stages of setting up a business Facebook page is ‘how many fans should we have?’ or ‘how many fans do we need?’
This is a more complicated question than you might think and it’s not just a numbers game. Competitor fan pages offer a wealth of insight for any brand and it is easy to get distracted by the number of fans a competitor has and use this benchmark as the sole measure of success.
However, it’s difficult to see the tactics they employed to get those fans – and how much money they spent to get them. High fan numbers don’t necessarily mean a brand has a large and loyal following.
Advertising for fans
Some campaigns are less about true brand popularity and more about the budget a company puts behind pushing a page via Facebook ads.
75% of Facebook fans have signed up with pages after invitations or ads from brands (DDB Worldwide and Opinionway Research in September 2010). If this is the route you are going down, the benchmark amount of fans you ‘should’ have can most accurately be calculated using estimated CPC’s and conversion rates.
Something to be avoided, this less scrupulous technique uses third party companies to buy a set number of fans. The dangers here are twofold, firstly, the fans often aren’t real people, just fake or automated accounts and secondly, even if they are real you are ultimately buying someone who isn’t interested in your brand. It’s a quick win and it will make your account ‘appear’ more popular in the short term – but ultimately, it’s a meaningless ‘big’ number.
Targeting is key
Targeting is key to growing real fans. You may get more get more fans quickly and cheaply by blanket targeting everybody but ideally, you want to attract your target market. Promote your page via your existing communication channels and if you are utilising advertising be very specific with your demographic criteria and interest selection.
All about the engagement
Rather than focusing on the numbers alone, your resources are better invested developing a meaningful relationship with the ‘true’ fans you do have. Providing them with great content will ultimately increase your interaction rates, and therefore the reach of your page allowing for organic growth. You are also more likely to identify your brand advocates who will happily share your content with their network.
The benefits to the marketer of having a thriving community of fans and advocates are countless. Instead of sifting through spam, irrelevant posts and comments you can learn about your customers and what they think about your brand, conduct real time customer service and most importantly develop a long term relationship with the people who matter.
So how many fans should we have on our facebook page? Simply however many want to be there.