Forget Facebook fans; brands need to target the friends of fans. That's the takeaway of Social Essentials, a new service provided by ComScore, with help from Facebook. The service offers unprecedented insights into the influence of brands through social media, complete with detailed credit card behavior that can link web browsing patterns to purchase decisions.
A story by Gregory Ferenstein at fastcompany.com reports ComScore recently released a white paper based on the data that shows why brands should focus more on the friends of their fans, and engage the most hardcore users with interactions that will ripple throughout their network's newsfeed. The data was collected through a massive survey of privacy-flouting Facebookers who volunteered to have their complete Internet behavior vigorously tracked.
Here's the key stat, as far as marketers are concerned: A meager 16% of company messages reach users in a given week, largely because the Facebook newsfeed usually only displays popular posts and few fans go to the brand's page on a regular basis.
The solution is to reach friends of fans through messages that are shareable, and promotions that require voting, checking in, or other interactivity. "Friends of fans represent about the most untapped potential in Facebook marketing," says ComScore VP of Marketing Solutions, Graham Mudd. For example, Starbucks's impressive 23 million fans pales in comparison to the number of friends of those same fans: 670 million.
In other words, for popular brands, the friends of fans represents "a very large proportion of the Facebook universe."