What’s the value of a bogus study of Facebook fans?

Marketers trying to figure out social media produce the most amazing volumes and varieties of crap.

Here’s one that has to make you either laugh for cry, as reported in AdWeek: Value of a ‘Fan’ on Social Media: $3.60. (It’s also reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy at What’s the Value of a Facebook Fan?)

So a social media vulture company called Vitrue did some seriously sketchy calculating and came up with this “fact”: 1 million Facebook fans translates into at least $3.6 million in equivalent media over a year.

The crap level of that finding is off the charts, but it gets worse.

It’s being thrown around now by some who should know better that a Facebook fan is “worth $3.60.”

The research, as bogus as it is, doesn’t claim that. The claim is that the value of advertising impressions you making on a Facebook fan over the course of a year is equivalent to spending $3.60 in traditional media. If the number were meaningful or accurate at all (it isn’t), an advertiser could easily decide on a cost basis whether to spend on TV, print, Facebook, or elsewhere.

Thing is, Facebook isn’t an advertising medium. Anyone who’s counting costs of impressions in social media apparently hasn’t ever spent any time participating in social media. Additional thing is, those ad impression figures really don’t make any sense even in traditional advertising media. That whole paradigm is falling apart — or maybe finally being exposed as the fraud it’s always been. Direct marketers all along have laughed at measuring “impressions” — they know response is where it’s at.

Okay, why even bother about dumb blather generated by a dying industry? Because this story has three useful takeaways:


  1. It you want to measure your Facebook and other social media involvement (and you should), measure actions, especially donations, not just large numbers of people who clicked a “like” button. The whole point of engagement is action. Counting bodies who don’t take action is just an exercise in vanity.
  2. Don’t believe every study you read about.
  3. Don’t hire Vitrue. They’re either clueless or charlatans. Either way, they’ll take you for a ride and it won’t be a fun one.


Comments

4 responses to “What’s the value of a bogus study of Facebook fans?”

  1. I would add that there seems to be an epidemic of “surveys” being labeled as “studies”. There is actually a significant difference between the two, and mainstream media and non-profit media are both tossing the terms about as if they were synonym — they’re not. A survey based “on people who agreed to be interviewed about subject X” may be interesting, but it’s not a “study” where the findings can be extrapolated to the entire 1.4 million non-profits in the U.S.
    Regards,
    Bill Huddleston
    The CFC Coach
    http://www.cfcfundraising.com

  2. I would add that there seems to be an epidemic of “surveys” being labeled as “studies”. There is actually a significant difference between the two, and mainstream media and non-profit media are both tossing the terms about as if they were synonym — they’re not. A survey based “on people who agreed to be interviewed about subject X” may be interesting, but it’s not a “study” where the findings can be extrapolated to the entire 1.4 million non-profits in the U.S.
    Regards,
    Bill Huddleston
    The CFC Coach
    http://www.cfcfundraising.com

  3. Additional thing is, those ad impression figures really don’t make any sense even in traditional advertising media. That whole paradigm is falling apart — or maybe finally being exposed as the fraud it’s always been.

  4. Additional thing is, those ad impression figures really don’t make any sense even in traditional advertising media. That whole paradigm is falling apart — or maybe finally being exposed as the fraud it’s always been.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog