In an earlier post, we linked to a blog post on the Chronicle of Philanthropy blog about a new study that offers a "value" to a Facebook fan. While the post there may have been simply informing nonprofits about a new study and asking how the study might change the way a nonprofit thinks about its social media investments, this post is troubling for several reasons:
- They offer no guidance to nonprofits regarding how to start thinking about the value of fans on Facebook;
- They offer no commentary on the findings in the study which are questionable at best.
More than anything, nonprofits should not be looking simplistically at the "value" of a fan as this study presents value. The inherent value of a Facebook fan goes far beyond a simple monetary measurement like this.
Another misleading aspect of the Chronicle's post and the study is positing that nonprofits can make strategic decisons about social media knowing this estimated dollar value when in fact the more important and immediate dollar amount is the cost to gaining, retaining and converting a fan. Measuring the value of a fan in the overall scheme of marketing efforts is merely a justification for spending.
But what is the cost to us when we are trying to build our fan bases? What are the costs of labor to maintaining and converting those fan bases on our Facebook pages from interactive fans to volunteers or donors?
The questions to really ask yourself are:
- Do you know the cost of getting a person to "like" your Facebook Page?
- Do you know the cost of spending time on your Facebook Page to cultivate an active and engaged fan base?
- Do you know the cost of converting a fan to an attendee, a volunteer, a donor or whatever other valuabe connection you are trying to make?
Having fans on Facebook - even at a value of $3.60 - isn't really valueable unless they are doing something that has a direct and positive impact on your organization. You can put a dollar amount on the exponential reach of social media, but that is something to look at later. Much later.
What Makes a Good Facebook Fan?
I recently posted How to Know a Good Facebook Fan on Web Worker Daily taking a closer look at Facebook Fans that may prove useful to nonprofit organizations. However, the idea of converting a fan on Facebook from clicking the "like" button to actually engaging in any meaningful way for your organization might take more resources than you have or can afford. Still, it is worth a look to see a more holistic view of Facebook fans and their value. This week I'm posting a piece on the same site about converting Facebook fans to be Brand Ambassadors. This may or may not prove valuable to a nonprofit organization.
Frankly, there are some distinct differences between how companies and brands shouldbe using social media and how nonprofits can leverage social media tools and tactics. And there is something that nonprofits have that companies dream of having and often spend thousands, hundreds of thousands and even million dollars to gainwhat many nonprofits have inherently.
What is that magic secret sauce that you have that companies would practically kill to have?
Passionate, loyal supporters.
So what are you doing to cultivate, harness and leverage that passion and that loyalty? And how can you do that in a time- and money-efficient manner? Social media tools and tactics can help you do this if you understand how to use and employ them properly and if - and only if - they are part of a greater strategic plan.
Just putting up a Facebook Page because you think you are going to get $3.60 worth of intangible value from your Facebook fans doesn't make good business sense, even for a nonprofit.
But if you tell me that it costs your organization $3 or $5 worth of effort for each person you get to sign up to receive your newsletter or even a greater cost to get them to attend your event, for example, wouldn't it make good business sense to use social media tools and tactics to accomplish the same thing for less money? Those are the numbers you need to be identifying and examining more closely.
Save the $3.60 valuation for later, once you have already determined the costs of doing business and the cost savings of doing some of your communications and marketing via social media either in addition to or instead of some of your more expensive tactics.
In the meanwhile, visit our Facebook Page, become a Fan, and let us know what information and interactions would provide you value when hearing from us.
Value in social media is a two-way street. It isn't simply about what would be valuable and worthwhile for our organizations but also what is valuable and worthwhile for our fans, supporters, communities and world. Right?