Putting a specific value on Facebook communities is a matter of some debate. Vitrue is hoping to shed some light on the subject with a new tool that evaluates the earned media worth of brands' Facebook pages.
If you buy into the social media specialist's underlying thesis -- and even Vitrue concedes it's not capturing the entire picture -- the popular Starbucks Facebook page is worth $20.7 million.
Starbucks boasts nearly 8 million "likes" (Facebook recently retired the "fan" nomenclature for brands). When calculating based on an earned media CPM value of $5, that number yields a $20.7 million annual page value.
Coke, with its 5.5 million likes, has an annual page value of $4.6 million, based on this system.
Skittles, which has 4.4 million likes, is worth $7.7 million, per Vitrue.
Vitrue's Social Page Evaluator calculations are based on more than adding up brand connections and assigning proxy values. The measurements take into account the number of posts and interactions, since both directly impact the likelihood of a brand getting broadcast into newsfeeds, along with an "engagement multiplier" Vitrue created. That means brands with smaller fan bases can actually have more valuable communities. The Skittles page, with nearly 1 million fewer connections, is valued above Coke's based on the greater frequency of posts -- 27 in the past month vs. nine for the cola giant.
Though the default is $5, the tool allows users to adjust the earned media number. Making such adjustments can exponentially increase the estimated overall value of brand pages. It's up to marketers to determine what comparable impressions would cost in paid media, said Michael Strutton, chief product officer at Vitrue.
"We went with a conservative number of $5," he said. "[But] we wanted to give a marketer the ability to change that."
The company believes brands are not utilizing Facebook pages to their full extent, so its social media evaluator also calculates potential values for pages if brands followed Vitrue's suggested best practices. Starbucks, for example, is leaving over $55 million in value on the table because it posts just 19 times a month. (Vitrue believes brands can post twice a day before lowering user engagement.) Coke's doing an even worse job, according to the Vitrue, with its page having a 13x potential worth. Skittles is missing out on $40 million of earned media, per the social tool. Meanwhile, a hyperactive brand like ESPN -- it posted 147 times in the past month -- has maxed out its Facebook page value at $4.8 million.
Common mistakes brands make include either posting too much or not enough; failing to post photos and videos; and not using Facebook social tools, like the "share" button, that can drive pass-alongs.
Last month, Vitrue released research that attempted to place a media value on individual Facebook connections at $3.60 per year. That calculation was based on how often the brand would then pop up in the user's news feed, using those impressions with standard media pricing to arrive at an overall figure.
"The bigger picture we've been saying for a while is Facebook is becoming the operating system of the Internet," said Reggie Bradford, Vitrue's CEO.