Mixed Signals: Brands Want More Than Facebook Fans

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

Facebook makes it easy and painless to give a thumbs-up approval to everything from a snarky status update to a favorite product or celebrity page. With a single click, we add to the number of loyal fans and gain a few seconds of cyber-transcendence.

But as business and brand pages seek to increase their fan count through social media campaigns and pushes, I am left perplexed. What tangible help is a high fan count when it only requires a quick click and no commitment? Competing brands may even collect “likes” from a single consumer… so which brand does that consumer prefer? “Likes” are a dime a dozen, and brands need to be careful not to count their coins too quickly.

Fathom Analytics is helping brands sort through the vague “like” factor with its new “Relationship Quality Index.” It analyzes a brand’s Facebook activity to produce an index score based on:

  • number of fans
  • momentum (how quickly the brand has been acquiring fans lately)
  • fan engagement (how often fans post on or interact with pages)
  • emotional quality (how much/how positive emotion is expressed on comments)

The measurement of the relationship past the initial engagement (the click of the “like”) is key. Some “likes” are given merely to receive a one-time coupon or get entered into a giveaway; “Likes” given in that context are not relationally strong when compared to a loyal brand user.

In many ways, this person-to-brand index could be applied in person-to-person contexts. I may willingly give a thumbs-up to an acquaintance, but that doesn’t mean I will have regular, positive engagement with that person.

And what would the “Relationship Quality Index” tell me of my relationship with Jesus? (The book Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman may address this very notion, but I’ve not read it yet.) Knowing Jesus is a relationship, not a one-time thumbs-up action.

Brands are clamoring for higher fan counts in the hope that those “likes” will turn into loyal customers. Interestingly, it seems that Jesus took the opposite approach: He didn’t seek the approval of the masses and instead invited those who really wanted to be with Him.

I realize that brand loyalty is fleeting and a relationship with a brand is silly when compared to loyalty to Christ and a relationship with Him. But the “Relationship Quality Index” reminds me that important relationships need more than an initial thumbs-up if they will grow into something valuable.

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