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Does Resort Facebook Engagement Drop as Fan Counts Increase?

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I have a very few claims to fame unless you ask my mother, in which case my Nobel Prize is coming at any moment. One thing, however, that I thought of “all by myself” was TAP (talking about percentage, a measure of how engaged a Facebook page’s fans are) . It’s nothing big, but I’ve relied on daily to keep an eye on trends, both on a resort-by-resort level as well as an industry-wide level. It’s helped me immensely.

Last week I added TAP rankings to the social dashboards so, in an instant, you can see who has some of the better engagement numbers on Facebook, regardless of total fan counts.

But speaking of size, if you click on that link, you might notice something: many of the top resorts based on TAP are some of the lowest ranked resorts based on total fans. Interested in confirming if this was industry wide, I ran the numbers.

Every dot represents a resort. The X axis is fan counts, the Y is TAP:

While it isn’t a rule, one thing is clear: only small resorts are managing the get huge engagement. Looking at the red line that indicated 9.0% TAP, only a few resorts over 30,000 fans are above that mark, while none above 30,000 are. Once you hit 20%, all the resorts have less than 1,000 fans. So, the question is “why?”

One Option
A few ideas I’ve heard thrown around are completely valid and possible. One is that the more fans you get, the harder it is to keep them engaged and have content that matches all of them. Another is that perhaps the EdgeRank algorithm has something that favors smaller pages. Yet another is that more fans simply smooth the engagement curve and prevent spikes.

I have no doubt each of these play a role. My idea is a little bit different though, and has to do with the fan types a page might acquire. I’n my mind, there are three types of fans.

Type 1: Highly Loyal Gusts, Employees, Family of Employees, Friends of Employees
When you first start a page, the classic way to get things started is to tell your friends, family, co-workers, etc. that the new page is live and they should go click “like”. So they do and many of the first fans that join a page are friends, family, and other employees. This group could be as small as a hundred fans or as large as 1,000-2,000.

Why would engagement be high with them? Because, rather than feeling like they are interacting with a brand, they are interacting with people they know because they know who is behind the brand

Type 2: Fans That Find You Naturally or Through WOM
The second group are the ones that don’t know you personally, but found you through a personal channel like a friend sharing a link to the page on their wall and telling their friends to join or a loyal season pass holder saying, “I wonder if Blue Mountain is on Facebook”, performing a quick search and clicking like.

On the engagement spectrum, they are semi-likely to engage because they already have some form of relationship with the brand through being a loyal customer (loyal enough to find the page on their own) or through a friend or family member who is closely associated with the brand.

Type 3: Fans You Acquire Through Promos and Ads
This last group are the ones you snag through various fan-getting techniques. The extent of their relationship with the brand might be as small as the contest they just entered, the ad they just clicked through, etc.

Less relationship with the brand likely leads to less engagement from this group.

In 30 Seconds
So, my theory is simply this:

  • At the beginning, most fans are Type 1 fans that provide lots of engagement.
  • As you get even more fans, the likelihood you’ve exhaused your resources of Type 1 fans increases, diluting the engagement the Type 1 fans provide as more, less engaged, Type 2 fans join.
  • Finally, as Type 3 fans become the predominant group that joins, this further dilutes (decreases) your pages engagement.

This is compounded by the fact that the smallest group is Type 1, Type 2 is bigger, and finally, because anyone on Facebook could potentially be your fan, Type 3 is the biggest group with the most engagement diluting potential.

So, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it…until I am proven wrong, which is always a possibility. Just ask my friends…

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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