Facebook fan pages offer an effective and low-cost way of social media marketing according to new research from Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business.
The study surveyed customers of Dessert Gallery, a popular Houston-based café chain, who were Facebook Fans, with customers who weren't. Based on surveys of more than 1,700 respondents over a three-month period, the study found that the company's Facebook fans were made more visits to Dessert Gallery each month, spent more of their eating out dollars there, and had greater emotional attachment and psychological loyalty to Dessert Gallery. Read more about the study here.
Now the authors of the study, Utpal M. Dholakia and Emily Durham, caution that "our results suggest intriguing possible correlations rather than definitive causalities" (One Café Chain's Facebook Experiment, Harvard Business Review). It may be, for instance, that other targeted marketing strategies would have similar results.
The authors also point out that Facebook fan pages have "a narrow appeal". Dessert Gallery did not have a Facebook fan page before the study and over the three month period, only 283 (or 2.1%) of the customers on DG's mailing list became fans.
They conclude that "Facebook fan pages may work best as niche marketing programs targeted to customers who regularly use Facebook. Social media marketing must be employed judiciously with other types of marketing programs."
In other words, your results may vary. But it's still great to see research being done on social media as an effective marketing tool. There's been an awful lot of hype about social media marketing and not a lot of attention paid to if and how social media marketing affects the bottom line of business that use it.
More on Social Media Marketing
- How to Make Social Media Useful
- Personal vs. Business Facebook Accounts
- How to Promote Your Business on Twitter
- How to Twitter: A Get Started Guide