Facebook Fan Pages as Business Model...
A question recently came up in a conversation about marketing one's presence in cyberspace. It was regarding an individual whose public persona was also their business; similar to, say, a paid speaker.
The question... Is it better to use your Facebook Fan Page to drive traffic to your website; or use your website to drive traffic to your Facebook Fan Page?
To be honest, this question blew my mind a little bit. Call me old-fashioned, but I would have assumed that a person's or a business's website was their central hub, and that other marketing efforts would merely be considered supplementary - their entire purpose being to help brand one's product or service, ultimately driving traffic to their primary website. However, when my friend contradicted that idea (and actually put it into practice), it raised my curiosity.
Time for a little research. Using Facebook Fan Pages as the test case (since that is what my friend uses as his primary online marketing vehicle in place of his website), what we find are the not-surprising statistics that social media pages get far less traffic than websites, but they get more valuable traffic.
Facebook Fans are valued at an average of $3.60 a piece in earned media for big brands. Compare that to the approximate 20 cent value of each website visitor using a Pay-per-click (PPC) formula - although this number varies widely depending on the website.
Granted, one should be somewhat sceptical of this data, but it's at least a reasonable starting point for dialogue.
If we take a look at the overall most popular Facebook Fan Pages, what we find is that the number of fans is usually quite paltry in comparison to the amount of traffic that their website counterparts accumulate. Starbucks and Coca-Cola are among the leading brands and even they only have between 5 and 6 million fans. As far as putting this back in the context of our original question, the numbers can also be broken down by consumer product, by celebrities/public figures, by TV shows, and more. The data indicates that even the absolute most popular Facebook Fan Pages struggle to exceed a few million fans. And I guarantee that Megan Fox (currently the #2 celebrity on the list) gets more traffic to her website and through Google searches than is reflected by her 6.4 million Facebook Fans.
The great counter to all of this, however, revolves around monetization. Who cares, opponents say, how many people visit your site? What you really want is a loyal group of followers willing to promote you through the tight bonds of networking because that's what will ultimately lead to bigger and better things, including more money.
Frankly, I'm still not convinced. Is anyone really earning more cash from Facebook Ads than they are through Google AdSense? I'd like to hear if anybody can share some success stories about individuals who've actually converted their number of Facebook Fans into a reliable revenue-stream. I certainly haven't heard of any, and it's hard for me to imagine that scenario. Unless I'm missing something, there still doesn't seem to be any advantage in using a Facebook Fan Page as one's central online marketing hub.
Then again, I've been wrong before.