I ran a very scientific study yesterday.

I set my computer on the desk four inches from the edge while I held a wrist watch in my left hand. After opening facebook and viewing a few interesting posts on my news feed, I found THE ONE. I steadied my right hand waiting for the exact right moment. After focusing all my attention I clicked the stop watch function to start. With as much speed and accuracy as I could muster, my right hand positioned the mouse directly above the little blue button with a thumb pointing upwards. I clicked. I clicked and less than one second later I had broadcast to the entire facebook world that I, Michael, did indeed endorse my friend and his desire to run 135 miles in the middle of the desert. Or did I?

What does it really mean when we “like” a post/group/fanpage on facebook? It literally cost me nothing. Even the time expended to actually click the object was nearly immeasurable. In terms of economics, there was nearly zero opportunity cost associated with clicking that tiny white and blue thumbs up. No loyalty issues came up. Most of friends are probably so tired of seeing people liking things that they didn’t even notice. We may, as individual private users, not be so concerned with the deep meaning behind a facebook like but companies and non-profits who use facebook fanpages MUST pay attention and use accurate analytics in determining the value of a “like” to their brand and company.

Let’s say company A hires an intern to spend 8 hours a day working on growing their facebook fanpage. What might the intern do all day? “Like” other pages/comments, join in conversation and hopefully publish new content. Let’s say that at the end of everyday 10 new people click the “like” button for company A’s fanpage. That is a great thing right? Sure, but HOW great is it really? ROI issues aside, let us examine some other measurements that will help us determine the value of those new likes.

Since we know that not everything we post is seen by our friends or fans, we must look at different forms of measurement to find the value of the mystical “like”. Things like impressions per post and percentage of feedback are much more helpful in measuring your brand’s reach than counting the number of “likes” your fanpage may tell you that you have.

Try experimenting with this concept. Posting a video on your fanpage using youtube can be a really interesting and eye-opening experience. You can find out generally what the click-through rate for your posts are pretty quickly. You can even measure peak hours during the day your posts might be viewed.

What we are talking about here is Facebook Engagement. How engaged are our fans? How loyal are they? Have they revisited us since they first “liked” us? These and many more questions are going to be explored in the coming posts. I encourage you to do some exploring yourself and comment below on what you may have found.

Thanks to photostock for use of the image.