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Why Facebook’s New ‘Friends of Fans’ Stat Is Significant

You may have noticed Facebook’s new Insights (stats) roll out over the last week or so for those of you who manage a Facebook page. Personally I’m very excited about this because we are given a lot more information about the Fans than we’ve ever gotten from Facebook before.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is the new “Friends of Fans” category seen here. For the first time we actually get a sense of how broad our potential reach is when we engage fans on Facebook.

Why This Is Big
The promise of social media has always been this “social” aspect of it where you benefit from all these conversations happening in public. One of the big ideas (and hopes) has always been that you are able to get the attention of people who know the people you’re talking to. In other words, we’ve always known there was a ripple effect to engaging people in social media but we never could really quantify that, until now.

With the “Friends of Fan” category you now have an actual number of your potential reach if you could somehow get all of the attention of the friends you fans have. Clearly that’s an impossible number but what this number communicates is a clear reason why you need to engage your fans. Each time your fans interact with your Facebook page they announce to their own friends that they just did that. The more engageable (is that a word?) you are the more your fans will be announcing to their friends that you exist and are giving a subtle endorsement for you. This new stat helps expand our focus from the fans to the people your fans know.

Are Your Fans Above Average?
Equally interesting here is that you now can determine if your own fans are, as a whole, above average. Here’s what I mean: the average Facebook user has 130 friends but now that we know how many friends your fans have we can calculate the average number of friends your fans have. For instance, in the example image above there are 46,806 fans. Those fans have a combined reach over 11 million friends. Therefore the average fan of this particular page has 251 friends. They’re well above the 130 friend average.

This stat may be even more meaningful for pages with smaller numbers of fans. Here’s another example:

Clearly there is a much smaller number of fans for this page than the previous example. With only 154 fans it might not seem like much but then when you see their friends of fan number is over 60,000 it looks more promising. Further, their average fan has 390 friends! That’s much better than the example above. Look at the potential reach this organization has if they can engage their 154 fans. You see how this expands the perspective of engaging. You’re not just engaging your fans. You’re engaging for the ripple effect too.

I already know of organizations using these stats to justify why they have a Facebook page. Perhaps that was part of the motivation behind giving us this data. Whatever the case, I think it’s interesting and helpful to keep us on track with why we should be considering a social media marketing approach in the first place. We have the opportunity to earn attention from the right kind of people and who better to guide us to more of the right kind of people than the friends of our fans?

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