Recent research conducted by the Harvard Business School looked at Facebook “likes” and the impact on the likelihood of purchase and influence on Facebook friends. The results suggest that liking something on social media is seen as a token gesture and carries less weight than liking it in a more conventional sense.
“The act of liking a brand on Facebook – requiring mere seconds of attention and, by design, one click of a button – may simply induce too weak a signal of preference for consumers to infer increased liking for the brand,” the researchers note.
This is supported by research from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science in Australia. In addition, it highlights that Facebook ‘Fans’ (ie people who “like” a brand) tend to be heavy shoppers of a brand.
So what does the above mean for using Facebook as a way of increasing sales?
We know that penetration (ie light shoppers) drives growth, which means marketers should aim to recruit non-shoppers of a brand. This is in contradiction with Facebook ‘Fans’ (“likes”) being heavy shoppers.
Targeting them with Facebook ads and content is unlikely to increase brand sales as it is more difficult to get these already heavy shoppers to spend even more vs recruiting new shoppers to the brand.
In light of this evidence, Marketers may want to reconsider how they use Facebook and other channels to reach light & heavy shoppers as part of their overall brand plans.
Harvard Business Review (print edition), October 2016
Dr. Karen Nelson-Field, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science in Australia