Volume is nothing like intensity

Speculation in recent days about what a “fan” is worth to a business is a timely reminder to separate volume from intensity.

Many commentators in the social universe it seems to me remain beguiled by quantity. The more liked you are, they seem to think, the more valuable you are potentially. Not so, of course. It costs nothing to say “like”. And in many cases I would venture to add, it means nothing and adds nothing.

Intensity though is quite a different metric – because it speaks to commitment and the bottom-line results of that commitment rather than just impressions. Intense fans buy the brands they feel strongly about. Money changes hands.

Intensity also defies volume. If you have customers who feel intensely committed to your brand, then you can have a much smaller, much less impressive number of them. Apple doesn’t have the biggest market share in a lot of the sectors it participates in, but it has perhaps the world’s most intense fans. And if a good percentage of those committed people only buy your brand or purchase predominately from you, then they are actually worth much more commercially than the hundreds of thousands of people who like you and move on without even a sideways glance at the cart.

Edward Boches says that we should also treat with real caution any suggestion that a “like” is a new customer and therefore a potential convert. In an excellent post on which came first – the loyalist or the like – Boches has this to say about the real market value of fans: “A program that strives to pile up fans will at best simply identify people who are already loyal. At worst, it will convince someone to click a button because it’s effortless, but potentially also meaningless.”

He continues: “The only thing we should be measuring is whether or not [what we do] induces prospects to become customers and customers to become repeat customers …”

Amen.

Like is a button. Commitment is a purchase. And brands the world over should be seeking to be intensely bought rather than just freely shared.

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