Are you attracting the right type of Facebook fans?

Back in June I wrote a blog highlighting our research showing that each new Facebook fan generates on average 20 additional visits to a retailer’s website. However, as every retailer knows, not all website visits are equal. Most eCommerce sites will have an idea of the average conversion rate from a visit to a sale, but in reality the likelihood that a visit will result in a sale depends on a number of factors – from whether the visitor is a regular customer or not, to how far they are down the purchase funnel.

Another key factor is the type of person visiting the site: a rich banker is probably more likely to make a purchase at a high end electronics store than teenager making an aspirational search for the latest expensive gadget. Even mass market retailers that attract customers from across the socio-demographic spectrum have core customers that are more likely to purchase. John Lewis is one such retailer: a major name on the British high street and consistently ranked in the top 10 of the IMRG-Experian Hitwise Hot Shops List, but “middle England’s favourite department store” is also a company with a distinctive core customer base.

Over the last few months, John Lewis has been making a concerted effort to attract fans to its Facebook page, which at the time of writing has almost 180,000 “Likes”. We now have the ability to track visitors to companies’ Facebook pages using Hitwise, and the chart below shows that www.facebook.com/JohnLewisRetail has been picking up an increasing number of visitors over the last few months.

But the question remains: who are these visitors? We are able to overlay visits to an organisation’s Facebook page with Experian Mosaic socio-demographic data, and the chart below illustrates the segmentation of visitors to John Lewis’s Facebook page for the 4 weeks ending 10th September 2011.

The largest group of visitors to John Lewis’s Facebook page come from the Suburban Mindsets Mosaic group (defined as “ maturing families on mid-range incomes living a moderate lifestyle in suburban semis”) – so far, so John Lewis. However, the second biggest group of visitors to www.facebook.com/JohnLewisRetail is a little less expected; Ex-Council Community are defined as “residents with low levels of education but sufficient incomes who live in the better right-to-buy council houses” and account for 11.5% of visitors. To understand a bit more about this audience, it is instructive to compare the Mosaic profile of visitors to John Lewis’s Facebook page with that of visitors to johnlewis.com, the company’s homepage and transactional website.

As the chart above illustrates, the Ex-Council Community Mosaic group is indeed over-represented on the john Lewis Facebook page when compared with visitors to the retailer’s homepage. It is a similar situation for other less affluent groups, including Claimant Cultures, Industrial Heritage and Terraced Melting Pot. On the other hand, while Suburban Mindsets accounts for a similar proportion of visitors to both the homepage and Facebook page, other core groups of visitors to John Lewis homepage -such as Professional Rewards (essentially the more affluent members of the middle class), Liberal Opinions (young professionals) and Alpha Territory (the richest people in Britain) – are significantly under-represented as visitors to the department store’s Facebook fan page. This is despite all of these groups being well represented on the social network, and presumably as John Lewis customers.

Facebook is the second most visited website in the UK and provides brands with a fantastic opportunity to engage with a huge audience, there is no doubt that certain fans will be worth more than others. This example nicely illustrates that simply playing the numbers game may not necessarily deliver the best results on Facebook – as with other marketing channels, quality often provides a better return on investment (ROI) than quality.

Combining Experian’s vast range of data assets with social media expertise (via Techlightenment), we are uniquely positioned to help brands drive ROI from their Facebook and other social media investments. If you would like to find out more about our Facebook Fan Acquisition or customer segmentation services, please email us.

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