By Nathan Scripps
Facebook Fan Pages have become the most recent in a long line of social media "must-haves" for automotive marketers –- but what do they really tell you? And are they even helpful?
Does a high fan count equal success?
It's no surprise that lots of people feel strongly about their favorite automotive brands and show their allegiance to those brands by flocking to automakers' Facebook Fan Pages. Consider the high fan counts for some of the best-known automaker Fan Pages: As of Jan. 22, 2010, I found an average of nearly 111,000 fans across 33 OEM Fan Pages, which is pretty amazing considering the average fan count across all Facebook Fan Pages is only 4,600
. Even for the 24 OEM Fan Pages with fewer than 111,000 fans, the average was just shy of 30,000 while the nine above-average pages weigh in closer to 330,000 fans each. The top five, in descending order, were Porsche, BMW, Audi, Jeep and Volkswagen.
However, high fan count alone is a poor measure of Facebook Fan Page success. Yes, the total fan count is the equivalent of reach, but the message you put out to that audience and the interactions and insights you pull back will determine the real Fan Page winners. Also, you are not limited to your own fans as a source for strategic insights; automotive marketers who learn to leverage other pages have a chance to really pull ahead.
What Facebook tells you about your fans
If you own a Facebook Fan Page -- you are the creator, administrator, or otherwise have backend access -- then you can access data that will help leverage your fans for free.
Take a look at the aggregate demographics. Examine the fan growth over time, overlay that with other campaigns or key product launches, and see which ones had a Facebook halo effect -- then talk about those campaigns to that audience.
Look at interaction rates -- page views, comments, etc. -- and match your messaging strategy accordingly. Passive audience? Broadcast offers and updates (think Toys "R" Us
). Interactive audience? Leverage them for feedback with surveys or projects (think Audi
What Facebook doesn’t tell you ... but you want to know
It will be the marketers who learn from their fans -- and their competitors -- and then apply those insights both on and off Facebook who will really win.
Because my employer, Rapleaf, recently launched the ability to study Fan Pages
and offer insights beyond what Facebook provides, I decided to look at what can be learned by studying Facebook fans of two competitors: Audi
I looked at roughly 50,000 random fans from each of the Audi and BMW Facebook Fan Pages, with an overlap of less than 1 percent. The results showed both striking similarities and insightful differences.
Audi and BMW fan similarities
It is not surprising that fans of German sports-luxury vehicles are similar. It is, however, the extent of those similarities that caught my eye. Demographically speaking, they could be twins; both groups are just over 70 percent males in their mid-to-late 20s (26 for BMW; 28.5 for Audi). Socially, twins again; Audi fans have 206 friends on average while BMW has 212. More surprising still is the near-identical distribution of friend counts between the brands (see graph at left).
Read the rest of this article on Headlightblog.com.