Facebook ‘likes’ may only take a brand so far in positively influencing fans, according to a pilot study from Aegis Media.
600 US participants were selected to be involved in the study which asked for views on a fictitious brand, Ashwood Furnishings, based only on seeing variations of its Facebook page. Each page was identical, apart from the number of likes, which ranged from just 12 to 9.2 million.
As the number of Facebook ‘likes’ the brand had increased from a low to medium level (0-2000 likes), fans were more positively influenced. However, the positive impact had tails off significantly between a medium and high (10,000+) number of likes.
It also found that further likes above the tens of thousands do not deliver the same proportionate level of increased positive perception.
Overall the study was designed to test whether Facebook likes might act as an ‘unconscious cue’, which in the real world helps people make decisions. It suggested that likes do indeed generate an unconscious and immediate effect, as a statistically significant relationship is established between the number of likes respondents believed Ashwood Furnishings to have and how positively they answered questions relating to the brand.
This means that Facebook fans may add indirect value to a business in how they influence the intent of others to buy, talk about and recommend a brand. This phenomenon is known as social proof.
“Social proof clearly has a role to play in changing perceptions, and our experiment is one first step in understanding this better,” said Rob Horler, Aegis Media UK CEO. “This was a pilot study; we’ll be looking to construct wider research in the near future to take a broader view of social media use and other factors that affect unconscious behaviour.”
Other tests showed that those who use Facebook frequently and for long periods were more likely to be positively influenced by a brand overall.
Aegis Media’s group brands Equal, iProspect, Isobar and Vizeum, worked with academics from Cambridge University to conduct the experiment.