The other day I posted a piece questioning the value of a like, given that 1.17 trillion are given a year.

Now Comscore and Facebook itself (so hardly a disinterested party) have produced a report looking at what value your Facebook fans have.

It’s a fairly detailed study (download via here), but the crux of it is that likes or fans are only one part of the equation.   Instead, brands need to factor in the potential amplification to friends of fans.

So when your fans interact with a piece of content, they make their own friends aware of it.    Facebook and Comscore say in theory large brands could amplify their messages 81x via friends of fans, which is not realistic.  However, doubling it through a mix of fan engagement and sponsored stories is.

This ties back to the point of a share being a much more relevant metric than a like, with one study saying it is 2x more valuable.

The key take-out for me however is this.  The study shows that if you target them correctly, both fans and friends of fans will spend significantly more money than ordinary consumers, an important finding and one answer to the ‘does social media drive sales’ debate.

Facebook and Comscore used the example of major US retailers just before Christmas.   Sure, they were in a ‘buy’ frame of mind anyway, but the retailers generally used sneak preview type tactics in the pre Christmas shopping season, in particular through Black Friday “door buster” deals.

The result?  Looking at Best Buy, both fans and friends of fans spent 2x as much as the average, while Target also saw a significant friend of fan uplift.   Across all retailers, actual fans spent more than the general population with those brands.

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