It’s Not Just the Fans, It’s their Friends Too

As you might be aware, Facebook overhauled their Insights reporting.

The update not only freshens up the interface, but also introduces an entirely new set of metrics for analysts to digest.  Notably, they’ve called out a new set of metrics at the top of their overview page.

  • Total Likes
  • People Talking About This
  • Weekly Total Reach
  • Friends of Fans

The new metrics replace the previously called out trio: “new likes,” “lifetime likes” and “monthly active users.”

Three of the new four aren’t really new at all.  They’re simply different ways of slicing the original top three.  (“People Talking About This” is a more inclusive counting of “Monthly Active Users”.)  The fourth, “Friends of Fans,” is an entirely new metric.  What are “Friends of Fans” and why should brands care?

The metric is simple enough: the number of friends your fans have.  The number is usually a significant multiple of your current follower count.  But more simply stated, friends of fans are your opportunity.

FoF Multiplier

Though the relative size of "friends of fans" varies by page, it is always significantly larger than the core following

The ‘Power of Like’

It’s already been established that a brand’s fans are more likely to purchase a brand’s product and recommend the brand to fans. But a recent study from ComScore found that friends of fans are also significantly more likely to be interested in a brand and purchase their product.

Which makes a lot of sense— we tend to share similar tastes and activities with our friends.

Every time a user shares your brand on their social media feed, they’re exposing that targeted demographic to your brand.  In this sense, “Friends of Fans” measures your opportunity horizon— how wide a circle of interested consumers could you reach if all of your fans were to post about your brand.  Brands now have a quantified measurement of the potential impact of their pages.

Why Facebook Did It

The decision to replace the top metrics reflects a deliberate shift in focus and strategy.  Facebook clearly wants brands to stop focusing excessively on growing fan bases and start actively engaging them.

This makes a ton of sense for Facebook.  Quantifying the upside for marketers provides a little perspective for the value of investing in Facebook pages (and ads.)

But it is also a useful gauge when determining marketing strategy and spend levels.  Instead of sending messages merely to your core followers, can you create content and initiatives that encourage them to share with their friends?  In other words, instead of spending heavily to shotgun messages out to an undifferentiated general market, can you spend more efficiently to influence the pre-targeted “Friends of Fans” demographic?

After all, as Facebook reminds us, the opportunity is certainly big enough.