The Power of “Like”

How Brands Reach (and Influence) Fans
Through Social-Media Marketing
Andrew Lipsman

Editor’s note: The paper that follows examines the

May 2011 findings from comScore Social Essentials

comScore

nature of the reach and frequency of branded con-

but includes insights from Facebook’s internal

alipsman@comscore.com

tent on Facebook. The research largely is based on

analytics platform.

Graham Mudd
comScore
gmudd@comscore.com
Mike Rich

INTRODUCTION

average, for the top 100 brand pages) and can

The key findings of the current research include

receive social-media brand impressions by

the following:

way of their friends. In examples from this
study, the reach of branded content among

comScore
mrich@comscore.com
Sean Bruich
Facebook
seanb@fb.com

• Facebook is the dominant social-networking site,
with an audience of approximately 160 million
U.S. visitors each month. It accounts for 90 percent of all time spent on social-networking sites.
• Branded content on social media can take many
forms, among them content shared directly from
brands, re-shared content from connections,
and social-marketing tools such as Facebook’s
“Sponsored Stories” advertising unit. Although
there has been considerable focus on counting
the incidence of these brand mentions on social
networks (and, to a lesser degree, categorizing it),
the authors found that the reach and frequency
of social-media brand impressions are far more
important than simple counting statistics.
• Facebook users spend more than a fourth of their
time on the site consuming and interacting with
the Facebook Newsfeed; this activity represents
4 percent of all time spent online in the United
States. The Newsfeed also is the primary loca-

friends of fans significantly exceeded the
reach among fans.
• When a brand focuses on acquiring and engaging fans, it can benefit from a significant secondary effect—exposure among friends of fans that
often surpasses reach among fans.
• For some brands, Facebook fans may have different aggregate demographic and behavioral
profiles than typical brand purchasers, indicating that social media may require different
approaches to marketing strategy.
• The “value of a fan” can be assessed in three primary ways:
–– increasing the depth of engagement and loyalty among fans;
–– generating incremental purchase behavior;
and
–– leveraging the ability to influence friends of
fans.

tion where branded content is consumed. In fact,
users are 40 to 150 times more likely to consume

Collectively, this research leads to two important

branded content in the Newsfeed than to visit

conclusions:

the Fan Page itself.
• There typically are two potential audiences for
branded content on Facebook:
–– Fans of brands on Facebook (those who have
explicitly “liked” a brand) are the easiest to
reach with social-media brand impressions.
–– Friends of fans typically represent a much
larger set of consumers (34 times larger, on

40  JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  March 2012 

• By focusing on measuring the reach of their
branded content among various constituencies,
brands can more effectively understand and
optimize the way in which they leverage their
presence on Facebook.
• Brands can realize significant untapped benefits
by understanding and focusing on reaching the
friends of their fans.
DOI: 10.2501/JAR-52-1-040-052

In Measurement of panelists’ exposure to about brands between friends. helping shape their understanding of the true impact (and. Additionally. Sportswear) and become visible either marketing activities. including them has enabled sharing between branded content (and. According to a study would serve to integrate brand activ- fan or a friend of a fan. certain select data points and only encourages this type of sharing but can accelerate its reach and virility. branded content as a “social-media brand aging their voices for greater marketing This approach is more favorable because it impression. on a friend’s wall or in the Newsfeed. just 7 percent said they were are standard units of measurement across Nicole indicates she “likes” Columbia able to integrate social media into their most media channels. lyzed using the comScore Social Essentials media landscape and. By meas- Brands and their consumers can now without regard to the size or composition uring online behavior for these opt-in pan- create two-way relationships and share of the audience receiving that content. advertising brands and consumers in new ways.) For example. Facebook not understanding its distribution. there are four Facebook pages for their brands. most research on branded Opt-in panelists provided comScore • The ability for consumers to identify content on social platforms has focused on with explicit permission to passively brands of interest and connect with describing the incidence of these types of observe their online behavior. news. and online purchases. search activity. the research meth- based on comScore’s proprietary 2-million semination of marketing messages. (Note: Mobile- two unique consumer experiences of inter- isolate—rather than integrate—into tradi- based Internet browsing is not included in est to brand marketers: tional marketing terms. fre- impressions indicated that they were effective users of quency. and feedback. • Page publishing: These unpaid impres- nesses but also anxiety about the diffi- Important is that an approach focused sions appear on the fan page wall and culty of grasping the full promise of this on audience reach and frequency also may also appear in the Newsfeed of a emerging medium. value) of those impressions. and even lever- therefore. addition.. The current research indicates that an illustrations in the current article are based approach that is instead focused on the on aggregate. have Part of the challenge is that as social product. it provides brands of dissemination channels. nonpersonally identifiable audience of branded content on social data sourced from Facebook. vative ways of sharing information for the potential impact of that content. conducted by the Harvard Business Review. • Stories about friends: These unpaid March 2012  JOURNAL occur when a friend OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  41 .g. social media. online. site visitation. In products and services. categorizing it as “positive” or “negative”) exposure. comScore could observe both public content. Whether fact. ity on social platforms with other parts only 12 percent of companies surveyed of the marketing mix because reach. odologies and key metrics developed to person global panel of Internet users from In particular. social media for businesses attempting to succeed in Data in this study are collected and ana- have emerged to redefine the digital today’s social-media environment.” impact. audience reach and establishing a social presence and engag- frequency—can unlock a much better Social-Media Brand Impressions ing with their fans. to a lesser degree. it actually can lead brands to focus on social-media marketing within social net- consumers are voicing their affinity for suboptimal strategies because it highlights works can be linked to other behaviors certain brands or their experiences with only content creators—at the cost of not in which they engage around the Web. In this article. which is a measurement service changed the way we think about the dis- media have evolved. Underscoring the importance of allows brands to focus on marketing activ- sions occur throughout a social network this channel. 100 percent of the Advertising ities that drive scale within audiences of and may be delivered through a variety Age Top 100 Advertisers have established interest.The Power of “Like” RESEARCH BACKGROUND These problems are all too common METHODOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS Over the past several years. elists. Brands increasingly are interested in platforms—namely. in the process. Simply knowing how many brand men- and nonpublic pages within particular • Social media also have facilitated inno- tions exist does little to provide insights social networks such as Facebook. and print. this analysis. Facebook has facilitated describe social activity have served to a home or work computer. and Gross Ratings Point (GRPs) actively engages with a brand (e. the opportunity to understand the profile primary vehicles through which these impressions are delivered: As this new marketing Although these impres- paradigm of those audiences reached with various unfolds. including television. there is palpable excitement types of content and to begin to under- about its potential to drive value for busi- stand the impact of that content exposure. radio. the authors describe a unit of customers’ experiences.

• Advertisements with social: These branded messages come directly from the advertisers with a social context on the unit that appears to friends of fans (e. social networking activity. Although comScore’s Social Essentials reports on all four impression types. only are fans exposed to these impressions but so are their friends. ”Nicole Likes Columbia Sports- Sponsored Stories wear.” appearing at the bottom of the advertising unit). the total fan base has been exposed to a MARKETING VEHICLE accounting for 90 percent of all time spent on social-media brand impression.1 • Friends of fans: This user segment (aka emerged as a powerful social-marketing “friends”) is defined as those who are and advertising platform. Over the past few years. Although other analyses of friend who is a fan of a particular brand.The Power of “Like” These stories may appear to fans and friends of fans. Worldwide Data Figure 2  Bing Facebook Fan Segments. not has taken such a “like” action. US.7MM Source: Facebook. the Story about a Friend current research focuses specifically on unpaid—or “earned”—impressions (See Figure 1).g. a subset of the total Friends of Fans counts in the total number of accrued fans. In the United 42  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  March 2012   comScore Media Metrix. In the current study. brand nor are connected to a fan who Moreover. the authors discuss not explicitly brand fans but have been different types of user segments within exposed to brand impressions through a Facebook. a subset of BRAND FANS MAKE FACEBOOK A SOCIAL majority of U. • Fans: This user segment is based on users who have affirmatively stated their affin- 130 times the size of the fan base. Non-Fans Facebook fans typically have centered on Over a given period. the authors point out.S. Over a given period. Facebook today represents the vast brand. Facebook has social networking sites in the United States. ence segments within Facebook based on • Non-fans: This segment encompasses their exposure to brand impressions within all users of the social network who have the given reporting period (consistent with neither become a fan of a particular the comScore Social Essentials product). • Sponsored stories: These paid impressions are similar to stories about friends. Facebook Fan and Friends-of-Fans Segments Figure 1  Examples of Earned and Paid Media Impressions Appearing on Newsfeed or Profile Pages. the current research ref- multiplier (See Figure 2): Although the fan 160 million visitors each month—about erences the following audience segments: base of Microsoft Bing is approximately three of every four Internet users—with 1. friends of fans is likely to have been the current study instead measured audi- exposed to brand impressions.. Ad with Social but they have been actively distributed Page published update in a user’s News Feed more broadly and appear in the righthand column to fans and friends of fans.7 million. ity for a particular brand by “liking” that Compared with other leading social networks. Fans 232MM 1. With this under- An example to illustrate the friends-of-fans States alone. May 2011 1 . the number of friends of fans the majority of them visiting the site on a in this network is 232 million—more than daily basis (See Figure 3). Facebook has approximately standing in mind.

com by Content Section. ing results (See Figure 5): viewing (17 percent) and usage of apps and tools (10 percent. May 2011 their interest affirmatively in a particular brand for reasons that may include throughout the site while only attractpages.com to understand how their respective marketing messages have reached fans and friends of fans throughout the network and the resulting implications of these 100. Within Facebook.. the authors have In May 2011. the fan page to the total number of brand on the homepage and Newsfeed. with the follow- by profile viewing (21 percent). these outsized ratios seem surprising. MySpace and Twitter. stay- To grasp the significant difference in users’ time is spent on the individual’s ing in communication with that brand.com MySpace Twitter.The Power of “Like” three very different brands—Starbucks. and Disney each boasting more exposures on Facebook. 27 percent iconic brands have been able to amass sub- the authors compared the page views on of engagement on Facebook. it managed to reach 27% Homepage/ Newsfeed 17% Photos 21% Profiles self-expression. June 2007–May 2011 content. 180. with Coca Cola. U. Unique Visitors (000) to Facebook. communicating positive   comScore. More specifically: In May 2011. Bing delivered 45. U. the branded content impressions would reflect this reality.000 the Newsfeed 20.S. button. This implication especially is important for brands with a presence on Face- 25% All Other book.000 140. Figure 3  Trend in U.2 See Figure 4). Most of their time is spent on Source: comScore Mediabuilder. a March 2012  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  43 . Despite the dominance of consumption in Newsfeeds relative to brand pages. or receiving deals and promotions. For the current study. but the data actually are very consistent with how people use Facebook. so it makes sense that Figure 4 Share of Time Spent on Facebook. Newsfeed to the Facebook user experience Southwest delivered 42 brand impressions helps illustrate how (and where) users are for every fan page view. see above 2 ing tens of thousands of visitors to its fan At first glance.. followers can express millions of people with brand impressions the Newsfeed over individual profile (or brand) pages.000 Most Branded Content Exposure Occurs in 40. followed Starbucks. consumption of branded content in the homepage that features the Newsfeed.000 Despite an increasing willingness to iden- 0 r r r r Jun Sep Dec Ma Jun Sep Dec Ma Jun Sep Dec Ma Jun Sep Dec Ma 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 tify as fans of a brand.000 60. Facebook users demonstrate their affinity for brands through use of the “like” 10% Apps & Tools In each brand’s case. the largest portion of associations of that brand to others. Starbucks delivered 156 examined the social-media impact for brand impressions throughout Facebook Understanding the importance of the for every one page view on its fan page. it is important to understand that the core user experience of consuming (and engaging with) content in the Newsfeed extends to branded Source: comScore Media Metrix.000 social-media brand exposures. as opposed to on the brands’ fan pages.000 120. and Microsoft Bing— Facebook.S. as the Newsfeed offers the greatest opportunity to reach and engage with current and potential customers. photo than 20 million fans as of July 2011.com occurred stantial fan followings. By “liking” a brand (also known as “becoming a fan”). Many Newsfeed as opposed to the brand page.000 160. In other words—importantly—socialmedia brand content is primarily consumed within the Newsfeed. likely to see and digest information on the site.S.000 Southwest Airlines. 80.

in 20 Facebook. there are an additional 34 friends of fans who can be reached (with significant variance among brands. alone.S. according to a Facebook analysis. the ratio of fans to   See above 4 the site during a period when brands are active. Southwest.000 fan pages).5 percent (See Figure 6). A Facebook analysis4 of the top 100 brand pages suggests that. gests that each incremental day of publish- Why do not all fans see a particular piece ing branded content from the Facebook of content from a brand? Some fans may page increases the reach among fans by miss content if they are not logged onto approximately 2. This minority of fans see content from a brand increase the likelihood of content appear- multiplier grows even larger when the in a given week. and Bing. internal user analysis 3 44  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  March 2012 5 0 1 Days 2 Days 3 Days 4 Days 5 Days 6 Days 7 Days Source: Facebook. unlike other social-media settings. on average. the results of the comparison of Newsfeeds to brand pages are simi- % 10 lar to the degree of reach between users and their friends. and does not annoy or dis- 120 engage fans. A given status update from a user will result in approximately 12-percent reach among their friends.3 How can fan pages increase the likelihood of reaching their fan base? Publishing content that is highly engaging can   Facebook. . Looking specifically at Starbucks. Publishing more analysis extends beyond the top 100 brand cates that. Furthermore. the Facebook News25 feed uses an algorithm to rank content based upon the likely interest to a user. So. See Figure 7). May 2011 Figure 6  Facebook Fan Pages: Cumulative Reach as a Function of Post Frequency (No. often well beyond the scale of fans Figure 5 Starbucks. brands also must take care to 180 ensure that the content and frequency of 156 160 publishing aligns with the expectations of 140 their fan base. for every fan. Additionally. A Facebook analysis sug- 1. & Bing: Ratio of Facebook Impressions for Fans and Friends of Fans to Page Views on Brand Fan Pages. 100 80 Friends of Fans: Extending the Social 60 Influence of Fans 45 42 40 Reaching fans with marketing messages 20 certainly is of interest to brands. of Days per Week). only the content determined to be most relevant to a user is delivered at a 15 specific time. Southwest. but the 0 Starbucks Southwest current research found that the friends of Bing fans represent a substantial potential audi- Source: comScore Social Essentials. A Facebook analysis indi- ing in the Newsfeed. U. that posts 5 of 7 days. 16 percent of fans often can also increase the rate at which pages (81× on average among the top are reached by branded content by a brand fans see content. Worldwide Data. Top 100 Brand Pages.The Power of “Like” Of course. May 2011 ence..

The Power of “Like” this ability to extend reach through friends 60 of fans.000 400. of Fans impressions comparable with that of other digital-advertising efforts. for instance) 20 that deliver branded content at scale.000 upside in messaging to them—either for 100. social-media Source: Facebook. primarily because of social media’s demonstrated ability to deliver 0 0 10M 20M 30M 40M 50M No. Top 100 brand pages impressions were marginally incremental to their existing online display advertising Figure 7  Facebook Fan Pages: Friends of Fan Multiplier and Fan Base Size. As these consumers have yet to identify themselves as 600. campaigns in reaching people around the Web. March 2012  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  45 . Southwest.000 sent an audience at least an order of magnitude larger than the fan base—hundreds of millions of users globally. Worldwide Data deliver stories about those fans’ interest and engagement with their brand. Across all three brands analyzed.000 300. in 10 some cases. An analysis of the reach delivered via social-media brand impressions highlights Figure 8 Starbucks.000 fans of a given brand. Friends of fans also are an intriguing audience for marketers. The current research. the friends of fans repre- 700. however. With Southwest and Bing. there may be more 200. such analysis could warrant consideration. however. In all three 800. unpaid friends of fans varies considerably across the three brands (See Figure 8).000 cases. and Bing: Potential Reach of Friends of Fans Audience (000). Brands also can take advantage of these users’ social proximity to fans to 0 Starbucks Southwest Bing Source: Facebook. In Starbucks’ case. Worldwide Data. such as online display advertising. the number of friends of fans reached by these brand impressions exceeded the 50 reach by fans alone.000 brand building or increasing consumption. however.000 500. has indicated that. 40 Reaching Consumers at Scale with Branded Content 30 Social media generally are not regarded in the same way as other media channels (online display advertising. and by a significant Friends of Fan Multiplier amount in the cases of Starbucks and Bing (See Figure 9).

S. This amplification in social- impression volume (See Figure 10). 2 1. ity.9% 3 messages on Facebook and other social networks. conversion.652 0 8. May 2011 but impressions with social context.000 52. 100.000 friends of fans. or even long-term loyalty and lifetime value.918 350. Display Ad Impressions 400.0 GRPs whereas Bing delivered 2. Southwest Bing Source: comScore Social Essentials. Figure 10 Starbucks. purchase intent. Southwest.7 GRPs (See Table 1). 250.000 81. GRPs at 17. The ability to measure the impact of these brand impressions in terms of traditional marketing metrics. brand awareness. Internet Reach (%) of Social Media Brand Impressions among Fans & Friends of Fans. their true goal is to reach people— 6 particularly those in their target demoFans 4. 46  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  March 2012   comScore Social Essentials. favorability.0% 1 0.000 355.. The results showed that. in fact. sive 64 percent. the authors contend composition of people reached by brand 2.4% 0.S. May 2011 Southwest delivered a combined 2. Southwest & Bing: Total U. Accordingly. frequency. This means that it has the potential to generate lift at each stage in the marketing cycle— Figure 9 Starbucks.The Power of “Like” basis. friends of 200. U.5 Due to Starbucks’ larger overall fan base..6 among friends).111 Starbucks 158.230 the brand delivered the highest overall number of total U.000 fans represented a wider reach.S.9% 5 Friends that social-media research also should focus on measuring the number and 4 % graphic.5% 0.S. and Bing: Facebook Brand Impressions (000) versus Display Ad Impressions (000) among Fans and Friends of Fans.000 Social Impressions for Starbucks.S. May 2011 5 . Frequency. U.000 although fans received a higher number of impressions on average.3 (5.. and GRPs.000 The authors calculated these metrics impressions delivered against fans and 300. Southwest. U.365 50.866 150. and Bing based on the number of social-media brand 5.6% Southwest Facebook provides the opportunity to deliver not only brand impressions at scale 0 Starbucks Social-Media Reach. social-media brand impressions must butable to Starbucks’ ability to leverage although they buy on an impression be quantified and translated into traditional media planning variables such as reach. can help brands realize the value of social-media impressions increased total a larger fan base and its modest (com- social media as an integral component of online impression volume by an impres- pared to Bing and Southwest) advertising- their overall marketing mix. and GRPs Bing Source: comScore Social Essentials. To achieve this cross-media comparabil- media brand impressions largely was attri­ Most marketers would agree that.7 among fans and 11.

441 0. market- In the case of Starbucks. Approximately 40 percent of Bing’s fans also were younger than 25. to a natural follow-on question: Who are with more than half (52. 20 percent of those who had visited a Starbucks premises within the past month were between the ages of 18 and 24. and Bing: Facebook Fan Age Demographic Profile.4 3.670 0. Southwest. 31 percent of brand-exposed Starbucks fans also were in that age segment. although they were more evenly balanced among 0 Age Under 18 Age 18–24 Age 25–34 Age 35–44 Age 45–54 Age 55+ Source: comScore Social Essentials.0 1. the context of social-media campaigns— these marketers want to understand how the audiences align with their market- 30 Starbucks ing objectives.0 1.5 percent). U. March 2012  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  47 .3 11.3 0. The analysis that follows illustrates the demographic and behav- 25 Southwest Bing ioral attributes of various Facebook fan segments.2 1.0 1.267 3. gies to bring younger customers in the reached by means of social media leads meanwhile. GRPs Fans Starbucks 6. Starbucks likely would benefit SOCIAL-MEDIA AUDIENCE ANALYSIS the segment by designing its social marketing strate- Understanding the size of the audience and 18.S. 14 percent of in-store visitors were age 55 and older.4 0.2 Friends Starbucks 10. U..221 3. but this same age segment accounted for just 7 percent of brand-exposed fans.9 3.6 Southwest 1.5 Bing • Among people age 18 and older. and 18.The Power of “Like” Table 1 Unpaid Brand Impressions on Facebook Exposed Fans (000) Facebook fans in comparison to its typical in-store customers (See Figure 12).4 0. Demographic Analysis 20 % 15 On the demographic side. Impressions (000) Total U.7 Southwest 917 2.9 2.314 17.0 percent) at least these people? 35 years old.S.0 Bing 2. Reach (%) Total Internet Reach (%) Specifically: Frequency Total U. the brandexposed fans of the three brands studied 10 differ by age composition (See Figure 11). showed an older age profile door. May 2011 Figure 11 Starbucks. younger-than-18-year-old Understanding the demographic characteristics of a brand’s social-media fol- With traditional campaigns.5 4. With the knowledge that fans skewed Source: comScore Social Essentials.924 0. May 2011 significantly younger than the typical customer. • At the same time.630 35. Southwest fans.S.to 24-year-olds accounting for more than a fourth of all fans (26.208 4.5 2.123 2. the authors lowing may reveal interesting audience ers attempt to reach particular audience observed some differences in the respective dynamics and uncover the potential for segments with their messages and—in demographic profiles of its brand-exposed new marketing opportunities.7 1. with more than 40 percent of the audience younger than 25.S. Starbucks actually had a fairly young 5 demographic profile for its fans.6 3.994 0..1 2.7 5.098 2.0 2.to 24-year-olds.7 1.

U. May 2011 category. 350 . it is important that brands understand who these fans are to utilize the strategies that will be most effective in activating these customers.9 20. Nonetheless. in other cases. 14. • All three brands over-indexed for the entertainment category (consistent with 25 20 19. In the analysis that follows. best with customers. given 35 30 that these user segments are more likely % of Starbucks Fans % of Starbucks Store Visitors 30. U.7 10 • Bing fans exhibited a strong propensity 4. Age 65+ • Southwest fans. newspapers and travel categories.3 Age 18–24 Age 25–34 Age 35–44 Age 45–54 Age 55–64 low visitation for the financial news. the authors examined the percentage of time a particular brand’s fans spent in different site categories relative to the average U. unsurprisingly.7 5 0 search/navigation..1 % their relative preference for leisure- 19. 9. and Bing Brand-Exposed Fans: Content Category Visitation by Time Spent Index. Southwest.6 to visit automotive pages but relatively 2. look very different. Because attracting fans can be a function of both organic brand affinity and active social-media marketing efforts. May 2011 Figure 13 Starbucks.8 28.5 26. Behavioral Analysis The current research demonstrates that fans have different online behavioral profiles by brand.The Power of “Like” This fact should not be surprising. which products to over-indexed for in some cases closely mirror one’s typical customer base or.. • Starbucks fans also indexed high on Figure 12  Demographic Profile of Brand-Exposed Starbucks Fans versus Starbucks Store Visitors.S.7 18.S. there is no obvious rule 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 Automotive Financial News of thumb.S.5 oriented online content such as social networking). They may spent in the social networking category. Internet user. Brands can leverage the information What is clear in these examples is • Brand-exposed fans of all three brands on their fans’ online behavior to better that it is difficult to generalize about a significantly time understand what messaging might work brand’s social-media audience. The results indicated several strong behavioral skews by brand among the top content categories (See Figure 13): 48  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  March 2012 Social Networking Entertainment Games Newspapers Retail Starbucks Southwest Bing Search/Navigation Travel Source: comScore Social Essentials. retail.4 to associate with brands on Facebook.7 15 • All three brands over-indexed for 4. indexed high on the travel category and the retail Source: comScore Social Essentials and comScore Plan Metrix.

clearly Facebook’s extensive worldwide reach is capitalizing on Facebook as a global makes it one of the few media channels marketing channel. According to comScore. Southwest. Starbucks. May 2011 Figure 14 Starbucks. with North America arise in evaluating social-media efforts are accounting for less than 30 percent of the total. Although most campaign measurement enjoyed a fairly diverse fan base. which boasts 5. see above 6 North America Europe Latin America Asia Pacific Middle East 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Starbucks Southwest Bing Source: comScore Social Essentials.The Power of “Like” promote via social media.S. and information seekers. March 2012  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  49 .. Another way for brands to build a pro- and evaluation occur at a local level. In terms of its ability to reach Fans Table 2 Content Categories Most Likely to be Visited by Fans Relative to the Average Internet User Index Starbucks Fans Social Networking 325 Entertainment—Multimedia 197 Search/Navigation 187 Directories—Reference 170 Entertainment—Music 170 Southwest Fans Weather 518 Social Networking 265 Gay/Lesbian 188 Search/Navigation 186 Gaming Information 185 Bing Fans Social Networking 332 Auto Resources 314 Community—Teens 230 Entertainment—Multimedia 223 Auto Manufacturer 194 across the world with brand impressions on Facebook (See Figure 14).3 million. Southwest fans book reached 714 million worldwide with 10 individual countries delivering show great interest in the weather—prob- unique visitors in May—a performance impressions to at least 1 million fans and ably because they are heavier travelers— that ranked it as the third largest world- friends. Starbucks’ Starbucks fans. U. and Bing: Percentage of Exposed Fans by Worldwide Region. Bing—a global brand— traction. Mexico content. In May.4 million exposed fans and friends. It also ranks as the top 14. and what type FACEBOOK OFFERS GLOBAL MARKETING fan base—understandable because it is a of promotions are most likely to gain CHANNEL FOR BRANDS domestic airline. though not as diverse as Starbucks’.5 million) and Canada (2. The United States led the way with whereas Bing fans are more likely to be wide Web property. (2. ity of countries measured by comScore. Face- more than 53 million people worldwide. Southwest had a more concentrated   comScore.500 coffee houses in more than 50 countries. the cur- FAN VALUE AND SOCIAL-MEDIA RETURN rent study showed that Starbucks had ON INVESTMENT a diverse base of exposed fans across all Perhaps the most common questions that five global regions. can be that can be employed for global brand- social-media brand impressions reached described as both entertainment-oriented ing efforts. visit relative to the average Internet user (See Table 2). it also file of their fans is to understand which is important for many brands to take a content categories they are most likely to more global perspective.6 See Figure 15). fol- auto-intenders and consumers of teen social-networking site in the wide major- lowed by Germany (4 million). for example.

• Southwest fans were 362 percent more likely to visit Southwest. . the authors were return on my social-media investment?” Starbucks.549 Canada showed the highest average propensity 2. with fans 418 percent more likely to visit Starbucks. and Bing: Website Visitation among Exposed Fans and Friends of Fans versus Average Internet User.The Power of “Like” to visit the Web sites for those brands comUnited States Germany Among the results (See Figure 16): 3. with more than 1 of every 3 U. The potential applications for understanding these differences are virtually limitless. 1. May 2011 higher rates of visitation overall than the Figure 15 Starbucks: Top 10 Countries by Number of Exposed Fans and Friends of Fans (000). 0 about how much more time is spent on Fans 350 than non-fans. Southwest. and • positively influencing friends of fans. U.276 Italy to visit the brand Web site.972 Mexico • Starbucks’ fans and friends of fans 2.S.233 modest lifts at 55 percent for fans and 33 percent for friends of fans.com.315 India 1. U.. 14. A retailer may want to understand how much more time fans spend at its store % 450 Friends 362% 300 250 230% 200 150 Goods (CPG) brand may be interested in 100 knowing how much more of its product is 50 purchased in-store by fans than non-fans. May 2011 its Web site than a non-fan.S. had much Source: comScore Social Essentials. whereas friends of fans were 165 percent more likely to follow a comparable action. and Bing. the cur- able to establish that fans and friends Answering such queries must begin rent study began by evaluating how much of fans tended to exhibit significantly with quantifying the value of a fan.S. • generating incremental purchases among fans.260 Taiwan pared to the average visitor of those sites. A Consumer Packaged Similarly.417 com and friends of fans 230 percent more likely.854 United Kingdom 1. “What is a fan worth?” and “What is the to analyze basic brand engagement.453 Philippines 1.. which showed relatively more 1. A good starting point for quantifying the value of social-media audiences is 50  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  March 2012 Figure 16 Starbucks. other two brands’ Web sites. Internet users visiting Bing in May. For With these examples. Southwest. which more likely fans and friends of fans were higher brand engagement than the typical might be considered in the following ways: • increasing engagement and loyalty among fans. a publisher could be curious 418% 400 165% 55% Starbucks Southwest 33% Bing Source: comScore Social Essentials. • Bing.616 Malaysia 1.

comScore analyzed Starbucks technique can be used to identify Star- to socially influenced brand messages customers’ in-store purchase patterns. U. 7. tor. May 2011 Figure 18 Southwest. purchase behavior during May 2011. the authors conducted truly reflective of the value of a “like. bucks fans and friends of fans who have might be persuasive in driving brand The analysis.S. • Southwest • Bing purchase quantity or frequency are not For Southwest.com.4% 12 8% 10 % Spending per Buyer Transactions per Buyer Source: comScore Social Essentials.com For Bing. differences in spend may reflect fans visited the site—nearly five times nitude of the difference.1 percent of level of analysis: valuable customers for Starbucks. March 2012  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  51 . Bing fans conducted cent of exposed Southwest Facebook 68 percent more searches on Bing than  Datapoint? 7 % 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 14 11% 12. U. Whereas 2. their behavior over time. revealed that Starbucks fans and friends to compare this behavior not only to that which sells tickets directly and there- of fans spent 8 percent more and trans- of non-fans but based on the frequency fore represents the company’s primary acted 11 percent more frequently than and diversity of exposure to branded revenue-generation channel. differences the average Internet user who trans- content and its latent impact on pur- in site visitation rates can be tied to con- acted at Starbucks (See Figure 17). indicated and also are more likely to express this friends of fans.. the strength of preexisting brand prefer- the total Internet average.5 tunity to engage with them. Southwest.com—more than 2. once again. The results indicated substantially fans and the average Bing. times the rate among the total Internet • Starbucks To understand differences in purchase To understand the incremental value patterns among the fans and friends of the published content. It is important to note that differences between fans and non-fans in terms of fans and friends of fans. version to help quantify the value of population. it is clear that these are even more dramatically. chasing behavior.com searcher.com in May 2011.The Power of “Like” Internet user and also to quantify the mag- Thus.7% 2 0 Figure 17 Starbucks: Fans and Friends of Fans Purchase Activity versus Average Internet User. It can be used For a Web site such as Southwest.com Visitation Rate of Southwest BrandExposed Fans and Friends of Fans.S.” an analysis comparing Southwest. higher visitation rates among fans and The results. That said. the authors conducted a similar At least a portion of these differences site visitation patterns between fans and analysis comparing Bing. 12. This evaluation.7 which examined in-store received branded content and evaluate engagement (See Figure 18). can often be taken to the next ences.1% 6 Total Internet Southwest Fans Southwest Friends Source: comScore Social Essentials..S. Internet audience visited among the fans and friends of fans seg- bucks on Facebook.4 per- ments. 7. Perhaps however. Overall. this research These results suggested that exposure segments.com search pat- reflect the preexisting preferences of friends of fans and the average site visi- terns between Bing fans and friends of these consumers: they prefer Starbucks.7 percent of higher engagement across the board brand affinity by becoming a fan of Star- the total U. May 2011 8 4 2. and exposed Southwest friends of fans vis- social media represent a strong oppor- ited Southwest. make a habit of visiting Starbucks often.

including social media.1 Searches Usage Day Source: comScore Social Essentials. online video. such as the New York Times. ences may be important in helping brands Typical approaches that focus on raw fan counts.8 2. audience types (for example.. higher search engagement in terms of As illustrated through the examples in the number of searches per session. He cle may be of interest to brand marketers is an experienced marketer and industry analyst. Before joining Facebook. new ways of communicating with their short. they seek metrics that can help brand impressions to fans. 52  JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH  March 2012 advertising effectiveness measurement tools for advertisers.6 0 Searches per Searcher Searches per Session 4. Bing fans demon- friends of fans) can lead to a dramatically strated significantly higher engagement better understanding of how and where than the friends of fans segment (See brand messages are reaching consumers. .6 5.3 Sean Bruich leads Facebook’s measurement research 20 group.9 40 Fan Friend of Fan Wireless. as their association with the Bing of their marketing objectives for key con- manages research projects and client relationships brand corresponds directly with Micro- sumer segments. Prior to comScore. In his eight years at comScore. and for developing and standardizing methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of marketing programs. He soft. fans and In each case. Sean studied cognitive neuroscience at Stanford University. software. Wall Street Journal. CNN.The Power of “Like” the average Bing searcher (40. Doceus. Mike has a BS in Journalism from Boston University. Sean and his team are responsible for measuring how advertising and branded content impact users’ 10 2. Graham holds an MBA from the book and other social-media platforms as In addition to understanding the Kellogg School of Management. based in San Francisco. them understand the value and create an ability to determine reach among the effective strategy for reaching key audi- largely untapped friends of fans audi- ence segments. however—or the total to achieve their marketing goals on Facebook… and beyond.8 5.1 Searches per Usage Day 5. and number of focuses on reach and frequency within search usage days. and Leap 50 Total Internet 40.1 6.3). U. May 2011 behaviors and perceptions. Yahoo!. Andrew is currently pursuing his MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and holds a BA in Public Policy Studies from Duke University. Mike has helped pioneer new methods for measuring online video. having CONCLUSION as they consider their realization of the spent ten years directly and indirectly growing major As marketers increasingly look to Face- “value of a fan” on Facebook. This same focus means that marketers Andrew Lipsman is Vice President of Marketing & Industry Analysis at comScore. Fans and friends also exhibited impressions.9 versus number of engagements on a given piece 24.and long-term reach of social-media and a BS with honors in Psychology from Santa Clara consumers. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife and two children. BusinessWeek and Newsweek. e-commerce. Andrew specializes in several areas of research. this approach’s University. Figure 19). this study. Facebook.6 2. and online advertising and is frequently quoted by leading news organizations. 30. and social media. Forbes. In particular.8 30 24. Hulu and Disney. technology brands. the findings in this arti- including Google.3) whereas friends of fans conducted of content—fail to depict the potential 27 percent more searches (30. Mike worked in media and technology consulting roles at Associated Press. where he managed Google’s quantitative advertiser research and developed Figure 19  Bing: Brand-Exposed Fans and Friends of Fans Search Activity versus Average Bing Searcher. Northwestern University. soft’s ability to monetize search behavior. with a number of prominent online media companies. This dynamic illustrates the importance also can better place their social-media Graham Mudd is Senior Vice President of Search and of the fan and friend segments to Micro- strategy within the broader framework Media at comScore. a measurement approach that searches per usage day.  Mike Rich is a Vice President in comScore’s custom media research division.3 7.8 versus and realized scope of social-media brand 24. hardware. Sean was with Google’s Customer Labs and Quantitative Marketing groups.S.

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