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3 ways to segment your Facebook fan base

3 ways to segment your Facebook fan base Scott Meldrum

Social media strategist and co-author of "The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Businesses Faster, Smarter & More Social," Jay Baer, recently posted a blog on calculating what Facebook is worth to a business. In it he writes, "The number of Facebook 'likes' you've accumulated is akin to your email list. The number of thumb-ups and comments on your musings (posts) is your Facebook feedback rate, which is statistically similar to click-through rate in email."

Baer's insightful post got me thinking about additional similarities between email marketing and Facebook marketing. In both cases, acquisition and lead gen are paramount. One of the strongest -- certainly the most quantifiable -- KPI for both is audience size. C-level marketers are always looking at email database and Facebook fan base sizes to get a pulse on how scalable their owned media channels are. Right or wrong -- size matters. Yep, I said it. Again. Sorry.

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Taking the email-Facebook juxtaposition in a different direction, it's useful to consider how the two relate to each other where audience segmentation is concerned. With email, you can segment your audience based on a number of data sets -- both demographic and psychographic -- and alter your message and content accordingly. Segmenting the audience to deliver a more-targeted message is the best way to increases open and click rates.

In comparing this with Facebook, we know the basic demographic makeup of our fans by looking at Page Insights. But there is additional psychographic segmentation that we can do by looking at acquisition methods, entry points, and post-type responses. While Facebook does not allow us to contact our audience by segment, we should understand these segments and start to shape our ongoing communication strategies accordingly.

In segmenting a Facebook fan base, I look at three categories:

  1. The causal fan

  2. The casual fan

  3. The committed fan

Each segment is different in how they became a fan, how they engage (or don't) with your wall posts, as well as where they are most vulnerable to unliking your page or unsubscribing to your posts. It's critical to understand the trigger points for each of these groups. Since Facebook doesn't allow you to bulk-remove fans, you have to look at how to communicate with the entire group while treating each segment as an individual audience.

The causal fan
These fans have responded to a fan-gated special offer or sweepstakes. They are in it to win. They want to hear from you only if and when it benefits them directly. They will "unlike" you in an instant and even "re-like" you if they get wind of another incentive to connect. They will also turn you off in their news feed more regularly.

They aren't "brand loyal," but they are "brand active." Liking your page is more of a business proposition for them. Since becoming a fan was compulsory to gaining access to an offer, content, or a chance to win a prize, you shouldn't expect any real sense of commitment from this group. These aren't bad fans. They are actually great to have when you need to stimulate sales and incent off-platform activity.

You can engage with these fans by servicing regular updates to special offers and premiums. Your communication copy should focus on sizzle words such as "exclusive," "savings," "discount," "offer," "new," and "fans only." Offering additional incentives to click and share will help boost the viral impact of your offers. Remember that these fans want the inside scoop on the latest deals. Appeal to their greed, and it will serve you well.

The casual fan
These fans may have responded to a special offer or registered for a sweepstakes but are less likely to have "liked" you if it was required. They are more willing to "like" your page via a social plugin because it was the easiest way to connect. These fans don't mind hearing from you frequently, but they are very likely to tune you out. Your unsubscribe rate is the highest amongst this group.

As for interaction, these fans are big-time fence sitters. You won't get much from them in the way of day-to-day post engagement. As such, they can be EdgeRank killers. They are the largest segment in the fan base and the most inert. That makes them especially dangerous to your social media ROI. Accordingly, they should be a big part of your communication focus.

You can engage this audience by focusing on invitation and inclusion. They won't know how valuable they are until you start to include them in the conversation by inviting them to interact. Use keywords like "opinion," "feedback," "share," "vote," and "respond" in your post copy. Keep your posts to this segment very short, and try to respond directly to those that comment. Again, this is an inert group, so the more you get them to interact, the more directional they become. And since they are such a large group, the more they interact, the better your reach.

The committed fan
The lion's share of interaction and engagement comes from this segment. They love to comment and "like" your posts. They click with regularity. They also share frequently. They will be your primary source of organic "likes." As such, they are very important to keep happy. That said, there is a true connection here that is pretty hard to break. Just don't piss them off, and you'll be okay.

If you do piss them off, take immediate action to soothe and satisfy. They are vocal and more emotionally connected to your brand than any other segment. Love you or hate you, they will make sure they are getting through to you by any means necessary. The stories they tell can have a lasting impact on perception of the larger casual fan base. So be sure to act quickly to calm any customer service issues among your committed fans.

You can get even higher levels of post interaction with this segment by practicing gratitude. These fans appreciate your brand. They love it. Return the love and appreciation by letting them know they are important to you. By using terms like "we appreciate you," "thank you," "we love our fans," "just for our fans," and "because of you" in your post copy, you validate them in the relationship and further cement the bond.

Psychographic segmentation analysis of your Facebook fan base isn't easy. In looking at the high priority brands are now placing on optimizing the news feed, it won't be long before the SAAS providers start to publish tools that will enable a more in-depth approach to audience measurement. Additionally, at some point in the near future, Facebook will likely open the door to not only deeper levels of audience analysis, but also the ability to segment the audience into groups for more effective news feed communication. In the meantime, it is critical for you to try to understand who your Facebook audience is and how you can reach it in more targeted ways.

Scott Meldrum is chief pollin8or at Pollin8 and is an expert in interactive marketing and social media.On Twitter? Follow Scott at @ScottMeldrum.

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As a veteran of Interactive Marketing and Social Media, Scott Meldrum provides digital strategy, creative and media solutions for leading brands. Leveraging 20 years of interactive experience, he has delivered award-wining digital advertising and...

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Commenter: warren whitlock

2011, June 04

You said there were three segments:

The causal fan
The casual fan
The committed fan

What is the difference between a casual fan and and casual fan?