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What’s the Value of a Facebook Fan in 2014?

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With Facebook’s organic reach on the decline since late last year, many marketers have questioned if fan acquisition is still a viable strategy on the platform. After all, if unsupported posts are only seen by a handful of fans, then perhaps encouraging people to “Like” your page and engage with your content is no longer the right approach.

The bottom line is this: While organic reach is no longer a guarantee for marketers on Facebook, there is still value to a Facebook fan in 2014. Despite the algorithmic changes and Facebook’s continued moves to help advertisers reach people outside of their fan bases, fans still matter for several reasons.

Facebook targeting options allow marketers to amplify content with social context, otherwise known as Friends of Fans targeting, which helps create a wider network for advertising. By expanding the fan base, marketers are also extending their “Friends of Fans” pool as well, therefore increasing the social context that surrounds ads – which Facebook claims is the key to success. Earlier this year, SocialCode reported that ads with social context drove 11 percent higher online sales lift.

Frequency on Facebook changed to allow 4x/day possible insertions for “Fans” with the new norm for non-fans at just 2x/day. This change in frequency allows brands to reach their fans at a more continuous cadence and opens the door for more story telling opportunities. With Facebook’s recent release of retargeting options, brands are no longer limited to telling their story in one singular post. For example, as part of Facebook’s new video capabilities, brands are able to create custom audiences of users who have both viewed and completed a piece of the brand’s video content. This audience can then be retargeted to tell the second part of the story.

Facebook’s Audience Insights Tool allows marketers to look at fans’ in a variety of ways to inform planning. With the addition of Facebook’s Audience Insights Tool, brands can now also figure out exactly who these fans are, where they live, what they do online, their purchase behavior, etc. This valuable information can provide insight for both content and media strategy alike to ensure that brands are connecting with their communities in the best ways possible. For example, a rental car company can look at their fan base and see that most of their fans own SUVs and live in suburban neighborhoods. This could then influence the content team to start testing images featuring larger cars and family related travel tips.

Facebook “Like” Ads format has changed to be larger and more visual within the Newsfeed. The new format allows for more messaging opportunities and creative testing. Running an A/B test via Like Ads could inform content development for sub-segments of your target audience. Before a big shift in brand strategy or a major brand promotion, messaging in your Like Ads can gives users a sense of what’s to come if they “Like” your page, and can give insight as to what creative is speaking best to the brand’s target audience.

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While it’s evident that Facebook’s greatest strength today is its “tremendous reach” (combined with targeting capabilities via paid support), marketers should not disregard fan acquisition entirely. Fan acquisition continues to be valuable for brands with follower bases comprised of vocal advocates.

Yet, we’ve also seen that social context is not always crucial for performance – and those non-fans who are targeted well with both content-specific and aspirational targeting can prove to be high-engagers. In summary, fan acquisition can still be beneficial to brands depending on the state of their current community and their upcoming objectives, as long as they are going after the right people with the right content.

Cover photo via CNET