How Much Is a Facebook Fan Worth? Answer: You’re Asking the Wrong Question

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It’s a question being asked with increased frequency as of late: “How much is a Facebook fan worth?” or, “What is our investment in Facebook worth?”

Several companies, notably digital consulting shops Vitrue and Syncapse have released their own studies, which attempt to put a dollar value on a Facebook fan. Vitrue says a fan is worth $3.60. Syncapse says $136.

Do these numbers matter, or are they missing the boat entirely?

Agency executives understand the need to justify marketing return on investment, however many think the industry is being short-sighted when trying to assign “a fan is worth X” type data to any social network, whether it be Facebook or Twitter.

“Efforts to assign arbitrary value to social media have largely handicapped effective outreach strategies by forcing brands and issue advocates to focus on volume versus value,” said Dallas Lawrence, managing director at Burson-Marsteller’s Proof Integrated Communications.

“Ultimately, the ‘value’ of social media will be calculated differently by each campaign’s objectives and attempts to squeeze the round social media peg through the square hole of traditional public relations ‘ROI’ metrics miss the realities of this larger revolution occurring in the online marketplace,” he said.

So are these studies asking the wrong questions? Brian Solis, author and principal of agency FutureWorks thinks so. “Looking at anything from a cost-per-impression (CPM) perspective, or trying to assess dollar value doesn’t align with the future of how we’re going to measure success or value of social media,” he told PRNewser.

Solis says a new metric being looked at by Twitter and other companies is resonance, which refers to, “how long can something stay alive and relevant in the stream. That stream could be Twitter, the Facebook Wall, or news feed,” he said.

“We need metrics that look beyond the old way of looking at things,” emphasized Solis.

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