Determining A Brand’s Active Facebook Fan Base

A topic that isn’t discussed very often is the idea of active vs. inactive fan page users. When we are looking at a Facebook fan page’s user base this isn’t necessarily a true representation of who actually has an interest or may even see this page’s content (in recent months the metric of user unsubscribes has been removed from Facebook Insights). Compared to Twitter where someone who doesn’t like your content can immediately unfollow, on Facebook the function of removing yourself from a page is much less obvious and often not the first action a user will take to remove content from their stream.

So how should this be measured? First of all it’s in my opinion that Facebook should be providing this data as ultimately they offer the function of fan page unsubscribes. As this is unfortunately not the case then the only way of going about this is determining a proxy measure. On the top of my head the only solution (I’m open to others if anyone has an idea!) is developing a tab hosted survey with an email opt in for allowing a follow up survey to be sent.

My idea regarding this type of system would be that a first initial survey would be administered through the fan page with a request to be able to email the participant in the future with a follow up survey. In a selected time period (of say 3-6 months) the follow up email would be sent where fans would be asked if they are still subscribed or recall any content from this page. I admit that there are some weaknesses to this type of approach:

  • Low initial user response rate: Most people dislike surveys. Without a substantial incentive only the most active of your fans will likely participate meaning that you won’t get a fully representative sample.
  • Low follow up rate: It is very likely that a large amount of survey participants will not respond to your follow up survey meaning that you won’tt get a fully accurate representation of your initial sample.

After getting some sort of idea how many users from a page are falling off I would go about developing a fan degrade rate. With that I mean along with measuring how many users become fans of your page you would also have a  stand in variable for calculating approximately how many of these fans become inactive over a period of time. An example of this sort of calculation would be ( current fans + new fans) – (current fans *fan degrade rate)= current active fan base. A note about taking this approach is that the survey data needs to be renewed on a consistent basis to ensure that the degrade rate is kept up to date.

Strategic Implications:

By understanding the rate of which your fans are becoming inactive a brand can understand when it needs to put into place initiatives to increase user involvement (such as user appreciation giveaways etc.) but they can also have a better idea of the overall growth of their fan base. If it’s being calculated that there are more fans unsubscribing than fanning (a sign of a mature fan base) the brand needs to take a look at what steps (if any) they need to take moving forward.

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