A Facebook Fan is $136 in Lifetime Value, $3.60 in Media Impressions
The lifetime value of a Facebook fan is about $136 to top brands, according to this study on Facebook fan lifetime value from Syncapse and Hotspex. Another study, from Vitrue, comes up with a media impression value per Facebook fan of about $3.60. From either angle, having a framework to talk about the ROI of Facebook fan investment is priceless.
Ad Age has a good comparison of the Facebook fan studies and their methodologies. The Syncapse/Hotspex study didn't term the metric lifetime value, but that's what the study tried to get at by surveying fans of the biggest brands on Facebook and analyzing their self-reported behavior and future plans in terms of product spending, loyalty, propensity to recommend, brand affinity, media value and acquisition cost. It's a dollars and cents analysis.
Vitrue (whose social media blog is worth checking out, too) looked instead at the value of media impressions made through a site's news feed and evaluated that on a CPM basis, basically calculating the PR benefit, and came up with a number around $3.60. Vitrue also provides an app that lets anyone calculate the value of a Facebook page.
Vitrue's evaluation of your Facebook impressions is valuable information, but the Syncapse/Hotspex survey is a model for how e-marketers are starting to count Facebook fans, especially as Facebook e-commerce apps (f-commerce) are making the network a stand-alone selling channel. Facebook is becoming almost an internet within the internet, and such evaluation is the best way to justify investing in it.