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Study: 99% of Facebook Fans are Useless

According to a study by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, an important sounding group, Facebook fans are basically really worthless. In an ideal world, all these brands would love to believe that consumers “like” really means something, but it seems that “likes” have little or no value.

Most people would probably ignore this study, except that Ehrenberg-Bass Institute is supported by some of the biggest brands in the world, including Coca-Cola and Procter and Gamble – plus has a really cool website with some creepy smug guy smiling in almost photo who seems to know what he is talking about.

The study, in a seemingly slap to Facebook, even uses Facebook’s own metrics, “People Talking About This,” which is supposed to be a running count of likes, posts, comments, tags, shares and other good feelings towards the brand. Well, according to this metric, their own study shows that based on the top 200 brands on Facebook, the actual engagement of fans is 1.3%. Meaning that most of the people who like a brand on Facebook never do anything whatsoever.

It gets worse: If you sub-track the initial like of the fan, the rate of engagement then drops to a really sad 0.45% That’s mean approximately out of 200 people who like a brand on Facebook, only 1 of them actually does anything to interact with the brand. More than likely, knowing Facebook, that person is probably some guy in China spamming a gift-card offer.

These are some scary numbers if you think about it – which means that all that money that companies spend to acquire Facebook fans is nothing more than a masturbatory effort to show how amazing them feel about themselves. While there are a few exceptions to the rule, such as the millions of 40-year-old men who “liked” Miley Cyrus and leave creepy comments on her Facebook page, over all this is pretty damning to any strategy on Facebook.

Studies like this show why Facebook is now rushing to go public and cash out, “just incase” their long term strategy doesn’t work. Remember, just two years ago, everyone was talking about Myspace. What’s going to happen in two years if advertisers start to realize that people are ignoring Facebook?

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Pesach Lattin

Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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18 Comments

  1. Great article! It’s true when I use to log on to facebook I pretty much just clicked on everything my girlfriend posted so she didn’t ask me if I saw it again gah. The rest I clicked on were friends and family just to be nice like yep man cool. Likes in my humble opinion are more of a courtesy than a serious interest.

    1. Great article. I agree. I only belong to Facebook because it is the ‘in thing’ right now. The quantity of ‘likes’ really is meaningless. There are so many ways to increase your ‘likes’. Some websites plaster ‘like’ buttons all over their website so that people will click on as many as possible. I feel that Facebook really is a waste of time. Our website has been on the web since 1997 and Facebook is just another passing fad.

  2. This is completely untrue. The only companies that have low engagement from their fanbase are companies that don’t “do” anything with their fanbase. If you stay engaged and provide interesting content to the users, you can get plenty of engagement.

    Our fanpage at http://www.facebook.com/petflow has 307,701 fans, with 70K+ “talking” about it, that’s almost 25% of our entire fanbase.

    Additionally, we get a tremendous amount of new customers from our fanpage and get valuable feedback, suggestions and comments from our customers.

    #ArticleFail.

    1. Alex, you know you are a smart exception and you’ve build a successful business on that exception. I’m just reporting what the study says, does it mean that everyone will fail in facebook marketing, or that just “likes” are useless without something else… Like Alex?

      I couldn’t live without all my cute kitty photos from Petflow.

      1. It’s all about quality over quantity (50 targeted user are worth much more than 5000 people outside your market)

        On the other hand, social media is about engament and value creation.
        Trying to squeeze your fans before providing them with real value will only diminish trust and sales.

  3. How great such a study can mislead a lot of affiliate marketers off the facebook battle field and leave more room for only a few who truly knows how to monetize facebook fans.

  4. This can’t be totally accurate. I think it depends on the person running the fanpage. If you engage with fans and offer them something that’s actually interesting you’ll have better results.

    Especially if it has anything to do with kitties 😉

  5. I would agree with Alex. I’ve liked brands that I enjoy (such as some vodka brands), as well as clubs, movies or tv shows. I do this because I want to be kept informed about what may be going on with those companies. If I don’t interact with them, it’s because they have not engaged me in a manner that is of interest. The fault is on the advertiser, not the ‘fan’.

  6. I also disagree, to me a “Like” is a “yes I don`t mind advertising from this company” permission. Alex has got it right because they are most likely giving their fan base a higher level of engaging ads. Checkout the iAd intro by Steve Jobs on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY3BZzzLaaM He discusses a new way of interactive advertising where a person chooses when and what they want to be advertised. I personally prefer this myself and think it is a much more powerful lead for a company, than old school blanket advertising. Ads themselves are what need to advance now to take advantage of these “power leads”. HTML5 has huge promise in this area with interactivity allowed within video. We’re in the midst of change right now is all. Would like to hear some opinions of my thoughts….

  7. Facebook fans are still valuable and will continue to be for a long time, mainly because Google is now focusing more on social media and less on SEO.

    I think the more fb fans you get, the better it will be for your search rankings.

    I have to agree companies which provide quality content to their fans, will get more interaction from their fans.

  8. this is what you are really worth….

    as a former media buyer your info is worth a ton as a lead that is bought, sold, then traded to other relevant niches so lets say you are a foodie and you thumb up rachael ray show, cooking channel, food channel, etc well similar food type companies would be interested in knowing whether they can get a few leads for the “foodies” already spending money on similar items. The mere chump change you are to them is not close to the amount you would be worth if you continue to buy for that advertiser that bought your info for $10 or whatever it may be. Flipping names also known as data mining via data warehouses is big business, who trade raw data or even list rentals where you seed the sheets to ensure they stop mailing stops on your agreed dates. That includes email addresses, home addresses, extended family, friend. So while you are busy having fun you think sharing more and more info they are buying/selling you like a hooker, taking your info.

    It kinda sounds like a scam in a way dont you think? jacking your info while you play/sleep/work? Whos there to protect us from facebook on facebook? Better question

  9. Good post, but Facebook could careless about their fan pages. Facebook cares about their ads platform which generates about 85% of the companies revenue and if used right Facebook ads works very well.

  10. They are useless if you get useless fans. Try to get targeted fans, I mean those fans who are really interested in your products or niche so that you can get benefit from fan page.

  11. Pace Lattin, although you´re just reporting what the study says, You states that there are only 1% of valuable fans on FB.

    It seems to me “a new marketing era being watching through old school glasses”.

    ROT “Trash in, Trash out.”

    But I´m convinced that working responsibly to develop a social media relationship channel it really generates benefit for both branding and revenue strenghtening.

    Regards.

  12. Just an exaple: One of my Facebook pages have 5500 likes. When i post something the average “Like” rate is 10-20, average “People saw this post” is from 50 to 200 (if its viral content maximum 1000 people will see it). I think Facebook is getting more and more useless. I detect more traffic coming from Twitter where i have 1300 followers. These 1300 followers in Twitter are bringing me more traffic than 5500 Facebook fans…

  13. Those numbers look pretty accurate to me! Or it might be even worse now that it’s 2 years on from when you posted this!

    But the problem isn’t that the fans are useless. It’s that Facebook doesn’t show updates on pages to most of the fans, so many don’t have an invitation to engage.

    I think things can be done to make a Facebook page more useful to a business though. And I’ve just written a blog post about it. It’s something I’m going to try for the next 30 days on my own Facebook (business) page. Today is Day 1 and already engagement is up 🙂 If you’re curious the link is below.

  14. I was looking for information on this subject, however, there is a type at the end of the second paragraph “… a really cool website with some creepy smug guy smiling in almost photo who seems to know what he is talking about.” How can I trust the information now if there are careless errors? A serious question, not a troll.

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