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Facebook Brand Pages Really Pay Off

More than one-third of fans that “like” brand pages say they would buy the products more often

A new six-country survey from DDB reveals that Facebook users who like a brand’s page on the social networking site use its products regularly or occasionally and, after following the brand on Facebook, more than a third of the respondents “want to buy this brand’s product more.”

Brand page fans on Facebook also feel comfortable recommending the brand to friends, with 49 percent of the respondents saying they would “certainly” do so and 43 percent saying they “probably” would. Collectively, that’s a whopping 92 percent who qualify as brand advocates — a figure that staggered survey leader Catherine Lautier.

“I was expecting [brand page likers to be] a lot more benefits orientated versus, ‘I’m joining because I actively want to recommend it to friends,'” said Lautier, director of business intelligence at DDB France in Paris. “I thought it would be a lot more passive than that.”

The Facebook Brands Survey polled more than 1,600 Facebook users in the U.S., U.K., Italy, France, Australia and Chile that were already connected to brand pages. The polling took place online between Aug. 27 and Sept. 27 2010.

Through its research, the Omnicom Group shop hopes to better understand the relationship between brands and Facebook, which with 500 million users and an array of advertising tools represents fertile ground for marketers and agencies.

The survey sample skewed female (55 percent) and had an average age of 31, according to DDB. Most of the respondents are fairly active on Facebook, with 76 percent visiting the site either once or several times a day. On average, they follow nine brands, the bulk of which (55 percent) are in the media/entertainment sector. The next biggest sector was causes, at 51 percent, followed by fashion/luxury goods, at 46 percent.

The survey found that ads are the primary driver to brand pages, followed by invitations from friends and Web searches (see graphic). And once there, fans expect more than downloadable coupons. Rather, they want to feel more like a VIP who can access exclusive content, information about new products and yes, promotional offers, before the general public can, DDB discovered.

When ranking the most important reasons why they follow brands on Facebook, respondents cited promotional benefits first, followed by liking the brand, wanting to know about new products, gaining access to exclusive information and being able to provide opinions about the brand. So, to keep fans on Facebook, brands should consider them loyal customers and apply the principles of classic customer relationship marketing, Lautier said.

Creating and maintaining a brand page, of course, is a substantial undertaking. Operators have to freshen such pages regularly with content that fans find relevant, interesting and useful, according to Lautier. At the same time, the posts need to reflect brand values. Throw in a public controversy, such as Greenpeace crying foul about NestlĂ©’s use of palm oil in the production of Kit Kat and it’s clear that effective Facebook pages aren’t for hobbyists.

“It’s not that easy and if you make a mistake, it can have a cost,” Lautier said.

Even brand advocates, such as those who participated in the survey, will reject a dull or irrelevant page. Thirty-six percent of the respondents said they’ve unsubscribed from a brand page. Why? Because they lost interest in the brand, the page’s content came too frequently and it wasn’t particularly interesting, the survey found.

What are the most liked brands on Facebook? It varied from country to country, with U.S. respondents identifying Nike as their favorite brand, Chilean respondents picking Adidas and Italian respondents choosing Nutella. The top five among the full sample were Nike, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Nutella and Sony.

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