Rice University Research Tallies Facebook Fan Page Results
Facebook already provides its own advertising case studies. But one about fan pages, researched by Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business, is getting a good deal of attention.
David Ruth, a university spokesman, says he's gotten a lot of calls from marketers requesting the full study from Utpal Dholakia, an associate professor of management.
Dholakia says the full study, titled "How Effective Is Facebook Marketing?" is due out at the end of May. He'll be its primary author, but there'll be input from others who have helped him with the research. One of the secondary authors will be Emily Durham, a university alumna and founder of Houston-based restaurant consultancy Restaurant Connections.
In the meantime, Durham and Dholakia co-authored a sneak peek at a snippet of the research: an article in the March issue of the Harvard Business Review titled "One Cafe Chain's Facebook Experiment."
While a few of the findings are brand-related, some of the already reported information also applies to direct marketers. At the beginning of a customer research effort, 689 customers responded to a survey e-mailed to 13,270 customers of Dessert Gallery, a Houston-based bakery and cafe chain. Three months later, 1,067 of those on Dessert Gallery's Facebook fan page answered the survey.
Here's what the 1,756-respondent survey found about the impact of Dessert Gallery's Facebook fan page, which contained weekly updates about menu items, contests and promotions, links to reviews, and introductions to employees:
- Fans made 36 percent more visits to the stores each month than did regular customers, spending 45 percent more of their eating out dollars there and 33 percent more than regular customers did.
- About 5 percent of Dessert Gallery's customers became fans, which Dholakia says may indicate that fan pages work best as niche marketing tools.
- The e-mail list yielded 283 fan page sign-ups in three months, or 2.1 percent of those on Dessert Gallery's 13,270-customer e-mail database.
"Social media marketing must be employed judiciously with other types of marketing programs," Dholakia says in the study announcement.