Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What is the Value of a Facebook Fan?

I’m writing this on my flight home from a truly fabulous trip. First, it was the Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland followed by the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. 

Both events are fan-based and have been going forever. This was the twenty-third year for the former and the sixteenth for the latter. Both attracted between two and three hundred mystery fans and dozens of authors. Vicki – so great to hang out with you! Frankie? I saw you across a crowded room and I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat. 

This year I met many of my Facebook fan-friends for the first time. It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I’ve often questioned whether it’s worth the effort of keeping a daily presence, wracking my brains for witty comments and trying to accumulate “friends” regardless of whether they even enjoy reading mysteries let alone buy them. I have even created a Vicky Hill Facebook page written in my protagonist Vicky Hill’s voice that seems to cause me far more angst than trying to entertain folk on my own page. So … when I came across a post entitled “What is the Value of a Facebook Fan?” I was intrigued. 

Scott Brandon, the CEO of The Brandon Agency discussed a recent study by Syncapse, a company that was formed in 2007 to “help businesses make sense of a the rapidly evolving social media landscape.” In this instance, Brandon was talking about the ROI or return on investment i.e. what is the value of a Facebook Fan? His conclusion? Zero! This got me thinking. 

What do we authors hope to get for a return in the investment of our time? In the world of advertising, it’s all about building brand loyalty and encouraging sales. Aren’t authors becoming increasingly “branded” too? Do people who like a brand buy more of the same brand? Yes - definitely for mysteries! As authors do we feel that a fan is going to buy more than one copy of our book/series? Probably not. Is word-of-mouth more effective in creating a buzz? And what about the increasing trend to “buy” Facebook friends and so bump up the friend pool into the thousands? Will they automatically buy more books? Drive new fan-friends to our websites? 

Brandon believed there was more value in a small group of fully engaged loyal fans then there could ever be in fans-for-hire. I have to agree. Meeting Facebook fan-friends in the flesh this past week may not necessarily follow a big increase in book sales but I did happily discover I was often the recipient of an apple martini at the hotel bar which frankly, is a great return on my investment. For me, the power of the physical and visual communication will always win over virtual networking.

 p.s. forgive typos and errors, I only got home late last night and forgot to post it. Now I must dash off to my day job!


Vicki Delany said...

No one gave me an Apple Martini! Nice seeing you, Hannah.

hannah Dennison said...

Actually ... I think I guilted people into buying me martini's .....