Why People ‘Fan’ Brands on Facebook

Rugby Fans

Have you ever wondered why your friends Like specific brands on Facebook?

It’s because they actually like those brands — less so because of coupons, giveaways or other enticing offers.

According to new research my team conducted, 78% of Facebook brand Fans in key consumer categories are users of those brands to begin with. Interestingly, Fans choose to Like brands in key consumer categories predominantly to fulfill emotional, expression and relationship desires — as opposed to receive offers or other transactional benefits. In fact, the single biggest reason (49%) brand Fans in our study report becoming a Fan is “to support the brand I like.”

This research was a sequel to our earlier work that estimates the average economic value of brand Fans in our study to be $174, up 28% since 2010. Focusing on 20 major consumer brands, our Fan valuation methodology incorporates key drivers of brand value, including spending, loyalty, propensity to recommend, earned media value, acquisition cost and brand affinity.

Other key reasons for becoming a Fan of a brand include: “to share my personal good experiences” (31%); “to share my interests / lifestyle with others” (27%); and “seeing my friends are already a Fan or Liked” (20%).

Indeed, transactional offers and incentives are present, though less so. Among the reasons in this category were: “to get a coupon or discount” (42%) and “to participate in contests” (35%).

Just as the average value of a Fan differs across brands, so do reasons for becoming a Fan. For example, brands with longevity, passion or strong emotional equity are more likely to attract Fans that want to support them. Strong examples are Disney, Coca-Cola and Nike.

Among popular retail brands — like Zara, H&M and Walmart — Fans are less likely to become a Fan to support those brands, but more eager to seek coupons and discounts.

Our research underscores how marketers can (and must) maximize social marketing investments by aligning Fan motivations with Fan acquisition tactics. Doing so can increase marketing efficiency and add to the likelihood of acquiring ideal Fan segments.

For example, a brand marketer should explore emphasizing emotional brand attributes in Fan acquisition campaigns in order to acquire higher-spending and more loyal Fans. Conversely, it may be best to avoid direct-response tactics for Fan acquisition, where such tactics often attract promiscuous shoppers looking for free stuff. Offers and coupons might be better deployed against existing, high-quality Fans to reinforce messaging, purchasing cycles and upsells.

If you don’t know why your Fans became Fans in the first place, then your social marketing is flying blind.

Do you know the composition of your Facebook Fan base? Let me know what you think.

Download the report.

This essay also ran in MediaPost. Photo by Doug Wheller.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

One reply on “Why People ‘Fan’ Brands on Facebook”

  1. It would be interesting to compare the increase in “Because I like the brand” numbers vs. the decline in “For coupons/sweepstakes” numbers because many brands — especially those with large numbers — have stopped offering coupons/sweepstakes.

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