The Variables of 'Like'


Lionsgate, for example, is running a Facebook promo that requires liking the page for the summer blockbuster The Expendables in order to play a game related to the movie.

"You're almost building a Ponzi scheme with Facebook Likes," said Szymczyk. "Would you rather have 100,000 liking and broadcasting it or 5,000 who are real brand advocates?"

The payoffs can be short-lived. Search engine Bing ran a promo with Zynga in March that gave 80 million FarmVille players a deal: become a Facebook fan of Bing and get free virtual currency for the game. Bing's fan count went from 100,000 to 500,000. It now tops 1.1 million fans.

Yet not all fans are created equal. Bing continued to provide FarmVille-related tips through its page, yet since the Zynga promo Bing has seen much lower activity levels on the page compared to communities of a similar size. A typical recent post got about 100 Likes and slightly fewer comments. Brands with similar-size audiences get more, according to Lazerow, who believes the kind of incentives offered by the Zynga program have been "voted off the island" as far as Facebook tactics go.

Mentos is well aware of the perils of losing its newly acquired community and has a content plan in place to continue its growth path. The Mentos community is now over 180,000. It is putting out quirky updates regularly and holding contests, such as a recent challenge to design a Mentos tattoo.

"The value of fans is zero unless you do something with them," said Kerry Lange, client partner for Isobar North America. "We got them to the playing field; now it's a matter of giving them something to play with."

See also: "Facebook Doubles Down on Social Actions"