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Real friendship is a little bit magical. Love this photo from my wonderful friend, Libby Williams.

A dear friend of mine recently moved to Greenville from Asheville. The other night we were talking about what it feels like to make new friends when you move to a new community.

He made a simple observation that got stuck in my heart:

90% of a having a friend is being a friend.

We have a lot of discussion around here about “engagement”. What does it mean and how do you really measure true engagement within a community? So many brands and organizations still feel numbers of Facebook fans or twitter followers is a sign of promising engagement.

They really do.

The other day John Moore stumbled on this study: Facebook Fans: A Fan for Life? He sent the team this quick summary:

The authors studied the ‘People Talking About This’ (PTAT) measurement from Facebook between Oct and Nov 2011 to determine how many fans, after the initial ‘like’, are engaging with the brand.

Their findings reveal less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brands they are fans of during any week.

Of the 200 brands they studied, only 1 brand had 2% of their fans engage with them during a seven-day period. (Included in these 200 brands are “passion” brands… Nike, Chanel, Harley-Davidson, Jack Daniels, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., etc.)

Just 20 brands reached the 1% level of engagement from fans on any given week.

The authors close by writing, “The real question is how cost effective is it for a brand to attempt to drive engagement if the most they can reasonably expect is that 1% of fans will engage?”

We are keeping a close track on the PTAT on FB stats. And our communities are fairing much better.

So it got me thinking. Wondering about the lessons we can learn.

Maybe… we have it all backwards.

Perhaps the thing we should be measuring is our own efforts to be a friend? Something the community management team takes very serious at Brains on Fire.

As brands and organizations are we making a 90% effort?

What do you think about that? Chime in.

  • Jason Keeling

    Robbin, I’m curious what you identify as best methods to “be a friend” and professionally engage within social spaces?

    For example, I think tweeting others’ content with a personal note attached to the update can be useful, and offering value via comment to blog posts can make a person stand out.

    American culture contends “promote, promote, promote” is the effective way to establish identity. However, this fact also provides significant opportunity for those outliers that choose a different path to making a name for themselves, one that does not exclude, but includes various missions.

  • robbin phillips

    Jason, I’m glad you asked. I am going to share something I just found. (also from John Moore).

    The brands that are nurturing meaningful relationships with customers online aren’t interrupting them with promotional messages on Twitter or Facebook. Instead, brands like Whole Foods and Starbucks are using Twitter and Facebook to provide customers with more information about products/services. 90% of tweets from Starbucks and Whole Foods are “@” someone, responding directly to someone’s comment. Starbucks and Whole Foods Facebook pages aren’t littered with promotional status updates. Instead, these brands are taking a moment to make a moment with customers by providing them specific
    information. This isn’t the sexiest way to use social media but it’s been very effective for Starbucks and Whole Foods to develop evangelical customers.

    I think that is a magical find. I just found this note from John in my email while I was clearing out it this am. I will also say that our community managers actually make real friends online in the communities they manage and they often find ways to connect offline. They also see each comment as a gift.

    I feel that way about your comment. It deserves a reply. Thanks for reading and engaging!