The “Like” Economy – Quantifying Facebook Engagements

Monday, April 18, 2011
Michael Orpen

Our discussion on the value of visitor feedback to your site continues…

Thanks to an NCAA basketball promotion, Capital One‘s Facebook fans increased by more than 700% in less than two weeks. Consumer participation in the promotion was easy. Access to the content was granted in exchange for a “Like”. As marketers are looking for ways to leverage Facebook and to somehow quantify (and monetize) engagements, more and more marketers are following in this trend. The New Yorker offers subscriber-only content to the populous for a “Like”; Pepsi offers free soda for a “Like”; even my beloved Angry Birds application has begun offering new levels for free in return for an obligatory thumbs-up.

What is a “Like”, anyway?

Brands have mutated the “Like” functionality. Essentially, they have resorted to paying for disingenuous consideration in the hopes that the halo effect will be positive enough to generate a few legitimate followers and advocates.

But that begs the question: what is an engagement and how can we quantify its value? Executing a “Like” is easy and is extremely non-committal. When it’s encouraged and when it comes with a reward, how can the interaction be seen as a ringing endorsement? Low effort and simplicity seldom leads to high-risk activism. As a result, can Capital One really put a significant amount of value on their 700% jump in Facebook fans?

The real question should be what happens AFTER? What dedication did those followers show to the brand? Although this type of questioning forces a company to dig few layers deeper and requires a different analytical approach, the generated insight can go a long way to truly quantifying not just the volume but VALUE of Facebook engagements.

One approach is to carefully monitor your per-post insights. Stripped down, this is similar to calculating SEM or targeted awareness click-through rates. About 24 hours after you submit a post to your wall (and therefore to your fans/followers), unique and individual post metrics are displayed.

Metric 1 – What you posted (the content posted)

Metric 2 – Impressions (the number of times the post was displayed on your Facebook page wall, shown in the news feeds of fans, commented on or “Liked”)

Metric 3 – The feedback percentage (calculated by taking the total number of comments + the number of “Likes” divided by the number of impressions)

Here is an example of this calculation in action. If you posted a video that received 425 “Likes” and generated 119 comments as a result of 31,000 impressions, the Feedback Percentage would be 1.75%.

Tracking your average Feedback Percentage number over time is an excellent method to accurately measure the quality of your Facebook engagements.

When interactions with the “Like” button are used as a metric of program success, program performance ultimately comes up short. Why do so many brands hang their hat and the success of their campaign on this wonderfully misleading metric?

Contact us today to find out more!