Study: Only 4.7% of a brand’s fan base generate 100% of its...

Study: Only 4.7% of a brand’s fan base generate 100% of its social referrals

Sometimes in business you can find out facts that change the way you look at things. It was just such an occasion that led the team at EngageSciences to realize that social marketing to date has viewed word of mouth marketing the wrong way. Brands have fundamentally missed the value in their social media followings.

Like all good discoveries, it wasn’t planned.

It all started with the way the company looked at an older ancillary marketing channel and tried to apply some of the learning’s to the social media marketing world. That industry was email marketing. Think of how the email marketing industry originally evolved. The first tools just allowed you to send out messages, configure landing pages, and in turn gave you analytics on open rates.

That’s pretty much what the first generation of social media marketing tools were designed to do. Very quickly however, the email marketing industry evolved into becoming the all-important marketing database. That’s because to create targeted campaigns you need to understand the behavior of people that are receiving your messages over time, asking key questions like:

  • Have they engaged before?
  • What does this tell you about their interests?
  • And, how can you better target them with marketing messages?

So EngageSciences built a social marketing platform for building campaigns and publishing, underpinned with an audience database. Every interaction with every fan is recorded against their marketing record. With this capability, marketers can understand the people behind the conversation, they can collect rich social data about their audience and understand where the value is within their fan base. And, that is where the unforeseen discovery was made. With over 400 brands, retailers, media and entertainment companies and financial services customers, EngageSciences had been analyzing a huge volume of fan data across multiple social networks.

The startling figure from our research was that typically only 4.7 percent of a brand’s fan base generates 100 percent of the social referrals. So to put it another way, it is 4.7 percente of your social media following that generates all of the word of mouth results, and by results we mean conversions, not just reach. These are the advocates that can actually influence their friends to convert directly onto your campaigns, to connect with you as a brand or take up an offer.

Not that we are ignoring the other 95 percent, there is still plenty of value in this large segment. They’re connecting to you as a brand, the active fans are consuming your content and they are 20-30 percent more likely to buy from you as a result. But if we are looking at social media through the eyes of marketing and we want to improve our acquisition metrics, then it is the top 4.7 percent that generates all of the earned media results and organic growth

The problem is most brands don’t know who those 4.7 percent are and don’t have programs in place to work with this elite group of advocates. Marketers are often seduced by trying to pay for access to influencers – celebrities, bloggers and industry analysts. However everyone else is trying to do the same thing, which negates the value of this approach. Most brands however are ignoring the best asset they have for influencing others – the 4.7 percent of their fan base that make up their brand army.

This influential group can give you 176 times the reach of an active engaged fan that is interacting with your posts and campaigns. When you are a large brand, this group can number in the millions. Do the math, brands! It’s time brands focused on building the brand army. Not all fans are equal. Its time to start focusing some budget on working better with the organic influencers you have within your own social media following.

Some of our long standing clients who identify advocates amongst their fan base have increased their influencer armies from 4.7 percent to over 40 percent.

Francesca Heath (@FrancescaHeath) is the Global Communications Director for EngageSciences, a rapidly growing social media marketing platform which enables brands to create exceptional social marketing programs that maximize the lifetime value of fans. Having worked in marketing, events and PR for over six years Francesca has delivered many successful integrated marketing campaigns, with a specialized focus across digital and social channels and has a passion for digital and tech. Follow her at | Twitter | LinkedIn