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Digital Advantage: Do Facebook likes have real value?

By Jason Holmes
Feb. 19, 2014 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 18, 2014 at 8:19 p.m.

"Can you help me get more likes on Facebook?" This is a question we receive from local businesses all the time.

The desire to increase likes on Facebook is understandable. Increasing your relevant social fan base should be a top priority for any business owner. With more than 51 percent of social logins and 63 percent of mobile logins in 2013, Facebook is the undisputed social media leader.

However, businesses are still struggling with monetization and assigning value to their social media audience. How many customers can a local business owner expect to gain through a social media campaign? What's the real value of a like?

As with all things marketing, the answer is "it depends." A targeted like, one from a user that is local, can afford your product and is in the demographic that you're trying to reach, can be extremely valuable. However, it works similarly to other advertising and promotion. Not every prospect is a good prospect. Even consumers who appear to be good ones are in the market for a certain product for short periods of time.

For instance, if you're a local auto dealer and have 1,000 likes on your Facebook page, you may think of all of these people as potential customers. However, how many of those people are actually looking to buy a vehicle at any one time? The truth is about 1 percent of the population is in the market for a new or used vehicle at any given time. This means that in this example, our auto dealer is reaching about 10 potential customers with every Facebook post, which is not bad, because the 1 percent rule for auto dealers is true regardless of the marketing vehicle chosen. It doesn't matter if it's digital advertising, print, TV or direct mail - 99 percent of the population isn't in the market for a vehicle. The 1 percent that is in the market can be extremely valuable, and some of them will be reached and converted into customers through social media.

What about small, local businesses? Do likes have value for them? I would argue yes. They are even more valuable than for businesses that sell high-ticket items. Why? It's simple: frequency of purchase. Most consumers purchase a vehicle or a room full of furniture every few years. These types of retailers have to be relevant when the consumer is ready to buy. No way around it. But suppose you run or own a local restaurant, how often are consumers in the market for your product? You have an opportunity to reach hungry consumers every single day. Your social following and every aspect of the way you interact with them is extremely important to the success of your business.

In the next column, we'll dive deeper into how to build a targeted social following, why you shouldn't buy likes and whether advertising through Facebook's self-serve platform really makes sense.

Jason Holmes is the general manager of Advocate Digital Media, a sister company to the Victoria Advocate that focuses on digital marketing. He welcomes questions and column ideas at



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