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Putting a Pricetag on Friends. How does $175 a year sound? | Bluefish Digital Marketing


Just when you thought digital marketing via Facebook  was dead in the water, recently released research suggests that each “like” or “friend” that a brand gets on Facebook can generate some significant revenue.

  • Each “fan” or “friend” generates about $174.17 for that brand.
  • The number represents a 28 percent increase compared to 2010.
  • Fans spent $116 on the brand company per year than nonfans
  • Fans spent 43 percent money within that brands industry than non-fans as well.

The study, conducted by Social intelligence company Syncapse, followed the habits 2000 Facebook users who had “Liked” or “friended” a brand. Without getting into the methodology too much, coming  up with a number like this requires that several traditional and social media marketing matrices need to be evaluated, including:

  • Product spending
  • Loyalty
  • Page recommendations
  • Media value acquisition cost
  • Brand affinity

While 175 bucks is nothing to sneeze at, I think it might be worth considering that brands they followed, and the price points of their products. If this was a homogenous group of, let say, consumer candy brands, for example, with a price point around a dollar per unit…then selling 175 more Snickers per person makes a difference.   The graphic below from Syncapse shows what a friend means to some more premium brands.


Friends More Valuable than Followers

It is also interesting to note the high value of a Facebook “fan” as compared to a Twitter “follower”.  Research from 2012 shows that even a Facebook “Share” is worth more, at about  $14 per share. While a “re-tweeted” message on Twitter only brings in $5. A “Like” on Facebook is also worth more:$8, compared to only $2 generated by Twitter “follow.”


Part of this is likely due to the fact that becoming a fan on Facebook requires each individual user name have an actual/real email address, while Twitter followers can now be create mechanically and are notoriously less likely to be real people (see part II here)

The “Super Consumer’s” Bully Pulpit

It should come as no surprise that Facebook users who take the time to “friend” or “fan” a brand page are more likely than those who don’t to spend money on those products. With social media, these vocal “super-consumers” now have a pulpit from which they can evangelize their love for your brand.  Super consumers are generally defined the 10% of your customers who will account for more than 50% of your profits.

While these are the same types of consumers who are most likely to react positively to your brand in a non- social media setting, brand managers need to keep in mind that social media is a two-way street;.These same users are equally likely to share any bad experiences that they have as well. This is somewhat contradictory to some previously held beliefs about social media champions. But the question remains, which came first, the Facebook page, or the Super-consumer? And how has the social interaction affected their buying habits.

Either way, super consumers tend to shape how brands see themselves and are harbingers for tracking brand marketing efforts and buying habits. By monitoring their online response and directing campaigns to them, you can increase your marketing efficiency to your core profit-center, as well as get a solid sampling of how your consumer audience at-large will respond to your marketing efforts.

Again, all this is assuming that these are real friends and followers. There is a thriving black market for followers and friends and everyone from leading brands, to politicians and celebrities is buying in. This is the topic of Part II.

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In an earlier blog we discussed the estimated value of certain elements and actions (Follows/Fans/Likes/Retweets)  of social media to the brands that seek them.

These numbers don’t take into take account the recent trend of buying fake (or at the very least, dubious) followers, (like a lot of digitial marketing guru’s do) particularly on Twitter. This dirty little secret became somewhat known in the mainstream during the 2012 election when reporters uncovered that Mitt Romney’s rather paltry Twitter feed gained 117,000 followers overnight in July 2013. During the same election cycle, a previously unknown Democratic congressional candidate in Rhode Island, (Anthony Gemma) jumped into the race with 937,000 followers. Pretty impressive considering only half that many people live in his district at all. The incumbent he was running against had 3,500 followers.

And while neither candidate’s social media boon helped them win, plenty of successful people have fake followers as well. Estimates say that Barack Obama (42% of 29 Million), Bill Gates (50% of 10 million) and even Twitter CEO Dick Costelo (32% of his 1 million) have legions of fake followers.(Note: Do you know how hard it is to find pictures of an angry Pete Cashmore or Justin Timberlake? Must say something about their quality of life)


The Street Value of a Follower

Recent research indicates that shows that going rate on the “street” for a follower is about 18 cents.  So 1,000 new fake followers will cost you around $18.00 (according to Barracuda Labs). The cost to get “High End” followers can range up to $30 each. How does one become high end? You follow other people and get followers yourself. (You can read more about how these fake personas are created in a great article here… ).

Even retweets can be bought now. The price range for five retweets a day can range from $9 per month to about $150 a month for 125 daily retweets.  It is rumored that celebrities with major Twitter juice, such as Kim Kardashian, are paid as much as 10k for one retweet. Although its estimated that 43% of her 7.5 million followers are fake (ED: one could argue the validity of any of her follower, but that’s another blog.)

According a recent NY Times article ( Twitter is much easier to fake friends because it Facebook requires that users use a real e-mail address, while Twitter does not. Instead, Twitter requires users to enter Captchas (those funny words that look like your doctor wrote them with his left hand) if they are trying to create multiple accounts from the same I.P. address. But like anything  of value, smart people have figured out a way to get around this.  The Times cited one follower “reseller” who had written software that could create up to 100,000 new accounts in five days. Moreover, in countries where labor is cheap and the labor pool is deep, people can be paid to type them in, in real time, for as little as a penny per Captcha.

Selling and reselling these followers (infinitely) at 18 cents apiece poses a significant upside and is reason enough to question any # of followers before you invest.