If we were talking about ice cream, I’d say quality all the way: I’ll take a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s over a gallon of Good Humor any day. But when it comes to Facebook Fans, this question of quality versus quantity becomes a bit more complicated. It seems that every brand in America is on a quest to simply gain as many fans as possible. Yet I keep hearing from newsrooms I work with that they’re concerned about “quality” fans too. To be honest, my instant reaction was that they were crazy. Newsrooms (and brands in general) should just get as many fans as possible, right? Maybe, maybe not.
There are at least a few arguments that support building a quality fan base and many more that support building a fan base simply for quantity. Here’s a look at both sides and how your station might be able to get the best of both worlds.
1. More Fans = More Impressions
One of the biggest benefits of having a large fan base is the promotion of your website. If you strategically write your Facebook posts to drive traffic to your website, you stand to increase Facebook Referrals at roughly the same rate you increase your Facebook fan base. Some websites are already reporting that Facebook is sending them more traffic than Google. The only way this kind of traffic is possible is if your posts receive thousands of impressions. (Facebook “Impressions” are the raw number of times the story has been seen on your wall and in the news feeds of your fans.) So, the fastest way to get more impressions is to get more fans.
I did a (not-so-scientific) calculation of a couple of fan pages with 20,000 or more fans to see how many Facebook impressions they can generate in a month. On average, I counted up somewhere around 3.6 million per month per page. If you assign a $5 CPM to those impressions, you’re looking at $18,000 worth of promotion at no cost to your station.
2. More Fans = More Conversation
Newsrooms are relying more heavily than ever on social media for tips and feedback. This conversation is instantly ramped up if more people are contributing to it. The anniversary of the Challenger disaster struck a chord on social media, and it was evident that pages with more fans got more conversation going. Take a look at Central Florida News 13 versus WESH-2. Both are in the same market as Kennedy Space Center. Both posted the same question to their fans. Yet WESH-2 (who has roughly 18,000 Fans) got about six times the interactions that CFN-13 (who has roughly 5,000 Fans) received.
3. Quality Fans = Quality Interaction
If more fans equal more conversation, then it goes without saying that quality fans equal quality interaction. Some marketers have gone so far as to say you should value quality over quantity. They argue that “numbers are useless if nobody is interested in your product or business.” You may start to agree if you get bombarded by stuff like this:
Fox 8 Cleveland has more than 150,000 Facebook fans. They get a lot of superfluous comments like these, but they get a lot of useful comments too. In my mind, it’s worth sorting through a few crazy comments if it means you’re getting thousands more great ones. But that’s your call.
4. More Fans = More Sponsorship Opportunities
For those of you interested in having a profitable TV station: listen up. Sales departments across the country are getting calls from clients asking how they can get in on social media. In fact, according to the latest figures, U.S. marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites this year; that’s up 55% over last year. And the more fans you have, the more options you’ll have to get a return on investment for social media in your newsroom.
5. Quality Fans = Less Spam
Paid sponsors aren’t the only people who think your Facebook page is more valuable when you have more fans. Spammers know this too, and they’ll go out of their way to post their junk to your page if they know thousands of people are fans.
However, if you have more of a niche following of “quality” fans, then your page is less attractive to spammers. But again, my general thought is that it’s worth filtering a few spammers if it means your super-popular fan page is benefiting your station in other ways. (If you have a spamming problem, here are a few tips on how to deal with spammers, potty-mouths, and negative nancy on your Facebook page.)