Volume is nothing like intensity

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Speculation in recent days about what a “fan” is worth to a business is a timely reminder to separate volume from intensity.

Many commentators in the social universe it seems to me remain beguiled by quantity. The more liked you are, they seem to think, the more valuable you are potentially. Not so, of course. It costs nothing to say “like”. And in many cases I would venture to add, it means nothing and adds nothing.

Intensity though is quite a different metric – because it speaks to commitment and the bottom-line results of that commitment rather than just impressions. Intense fans buy the brands they feel strongly about. Money changes hands.

Intensity also defies volume. If you have customers who feel intensely committed to your brand, then you can have a much smaller, much less impressive number of them. Apple doesn’t have the biggest market share in a lot of the sectors it participates in, but it has perhaps the world’s most intense fans. And if a good percentage of those committed people only buy your brand or purchase predominately from you, then they are actually worth much more commercially than the hundreds of thousands of people who like you and move on without even a sideways glance at the cart.

Edward Boches says that we should also treat with real caution any suggestion that a “like” is a new customer and therefore a potential convert. In an excellent post on which came first – the loyalist or the like – Boches has this to say about the real market value of fans: “A program that strives to pile up fans will at best simply identify people who are already loyal. At worst, it will convince someone to click a button because it’s effortless, but potentially also meaningless.”

He continues: “The only thing we should be measuring is whether or not [what we do] induces prospects to become customers and customers to become repeat customers …”


Like is a button. Commitment is a purchase. And brands the world over should be seeking to be intensely bought rather than just freely shared.

2 thoughts on “Volume is nothing like intensity

  1. I totally agree with Mark that loyalty and committment is not measured by ‘like’.

    Enthusiastic but untutored entreprenuers in social media are embracing shallow measurement concepts such as the quantity of “likes”, the number of followers, and the amount of content.

    In terms of its lack of sophisication, the attitude is like the old days of measuring total potential audience, or actual viewers, of an advertising campaign.

    Those who speak the loudest and most often, are very rarely the most influential in terms of changing attitudes and behaviour. I even have my doubts about measuring the amount of reciprocity, since in social media, it is a public act, and therefore influenced by knowledge that it is observed.

    I’ve spent twenty years in public relations learning that there is a big difference between public acts and networks, and private acts and networks. So the actual effective level of loyalty and behaviour change is not reflected in public likes or followers. The human condition and social network is far more complicated than that.

    I think there’s a lot to be gained from social media in its smaller cricles, and the potential there for expanding the quality of one-to-one and one-to-few relationships.

    So, I concur with Boches’ contention that the measures that count are turning prospects to customers, and customers to repeat customers.

    In social media, the things that indicate you are on the right path to these measurements (or objectives) are the nature and quality of the interaction with people. Those measurements are qualitative.

    1. Mark – thanks so much for your comments. I’m very interested in your observation about the difference between public acts and networks, and private acts and networks, and their separate dynamics. Can you tell us more?

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