What is the Value of a Facebook Fan?


A recent Facebook campaign in Norway brings up a few interesting questions:

  • What is the value of a Facebook fan?
  • Is engagement the only measurement that counts on Facebook?

Here’s the campaign in a nutshell.

Burger King Norway’s Facebook page had 38,000 fans, but low engagement. They also had some fans complaining about Burger King and others who were constantly begging for coupons and rebates. So they decided to blow up the page and create new one for real fans. But real fans had to pass a test. They were given one of two options: Like the new Burger King page as a “true fan” or become a “sell-out” and get a free Big Mac from Burger King’s biggest rival McDonald’s.

If a fan picked the free Big Mac they were banned for life from the new Burger King page. Burger King Norway even sent the sell-out a letter reprimanding them and reminding them they were banned for “eternity.”

The results:

  • Burger King Norway lost 30,000 fans, despite only giving away a maximum of 1,000 Big Macs
  • Engagement on the new page increased 5X

So was this a successful campaign?

Some of my colleagues give it a big thumb’s up. They argue that it was extremely smart and creative. That despite the diminished reach of the page they now have a more passionate and dedicated following on Facebook.

I hold a contrary view. I can’t imagine going to a client and saying: “We’re going to blow up 75% of your Facebook audience by having that community reject you in favor of your competitor and, oh by the way, we’re actually going to reward that rejection by giving them your competitor’s best product.”

Grounds for firing I’d say.

I think the campaign was ridiculous for several reasons:

  • Burger King Norway was blaming its fans for poor engagement. It’s their job to provide better and more compelling content to give their fans a reason to engage. Banning your fans for your mistakes is not good customer service.
  • Banning 30,000 fans, nearly 75% of your community – who all at one point opted in to like your page –  is unnecessarily self-destructive. Is engagement the only measurement that counts? People like brand pages for many reasons: to get news and information, to bolster their own online identities, and, yes, to get free stuff. Not every fan is a “super” fan. But Burger King Norway seems to be saying only the super fans are worthy to communicate with.
  • What kind of marketing campaign rewards a public rejection by giving away the competitor’s product? Not only that, the campaign has generated significant media coverage, which, of course, always includes your competitor and its best product.
  • Kicking out fans for “eternity” creates enemies, not fans. So rather that work harder to make the 30,000 fans into super fans, Burger King Norway kicked them to curb and told them never to come back. Looks like a great way to make super fans for McDonald’s.

What do you think? Is the Burger King Norway campaign sheer genius? Or moronic? Or somewhere in the middle?

Would love to get your opinions.


Burger King Norway Whopper Sellout (via Creativity Online)

File Under: Facebook Weird

Is Facebook Dead as a Marketing Channel?

9 Responses to “What is the Value of a Facebook Fan?”

  1. What a ridiculous idea! Let’s be real here: the most productive people in the world tend to engage the least on Facebook, particularly when it comes to corporate pages. I’d be willing to wager that 99 out of 100 stalk, meaning they’ll see a post in their stream and make a mental note of it, but won’t click on it and won’t interact with it. Way to permanently alienate your most productive customers, Burger King! Marketers who buy this garbage, I suggest that you stop talking amongst yourselves and go out and get the opinions of some real people. Sheesh.

  2. Hi Tim:
    I have to agree. This stunt seemed to be more for the benefit of the agency that pitched it than for the fans of Burger King Norway.

  3. Snoring Dog Studio December 4, 2013 at 8:51 am

    I bet that agency saw the outside of the door at Burger King Norway pretty darn quickly after the news came in. It boggles my mind that this strategy made it out of the brainstorming session.

  4. Hey George,

    I agree with you. My first thoughts were that it was a radical way, but worked well. After reflecting the strategy I switched my opinion and think that the campaign wasn’t clever and explain several reasons in my blog.

    To sum it up: The ” Whopper-Sellout” campaign isn’t a solution for a problem, it’s just a short-term approach to limit the damage – and in my view this kind of strategy is a relic of oldschool mentality.

    Here is the link to my Blog post: http://goo.gl/8hjU5i – nice to see, that some of my arguments resemble to yours 🙂

    Greets from Germany

  5. Thanks for visiting Christian. Looking forward to reading your post.

  6. Hi George, given that BK lost 30,00 fans but only gave away 1,000 Big Macs, would that not suggest they were carrying an awful lot of fake fans, unless I am missing something? Quality over quantity, while at the same time being able to show the client that they really get Facebook. Not convinced it was such a disaster.

  7. Hi Michael:
    They had an upper limit on 1,000 for the giveaway. So they gave away the maximum and 29,000 other fans went with McDonald’s despite not getting a free Big Mac. Sounds like an awesome campaign – for McDonalds.

  8. Hi George, although some months later… I’m back again! 😀 I thought I had subscribed to your blog but I guess I didn’t. I really like your articles. As soon as I finish this comment I will subscribe!

    I hadn’t heard about this story before – thank you for sharing it – but then again there are so many things happening in this world, and the social media world, that it’s physically impossible to keep track.

    In my opinion, people are too preoccupied in focusing absolutely all the efforts on Facebook. Although it is true that if you want to make something really wise – or stupid – Facebook and Twitter would be the places to ‘go for it’. But being Burger King a worldwide known brand, things like this will always backfire. It’s good to be ‘naughty’ but it’s more important to be ‘nice’.

    Anyway, it’s difficult to grade this campaign as genius, moronic or somewhere in the middle. Honestly I wouldn’t know. But the brand page PTAT is still low, it’s position is 1.345 in LikeRank in Food & Beverages Facebook pages worldwide so… no. I guess it didn’t work out as planned. Anyone would think that by keeping your loyal fans the engagement would skyrocket! It’s tricky…

    The truth is that Facebook, as any other social network, changes from day to day. Whenever your fans grow your demography gets affected by country, age and reach. Posting times are affected as well. So you need to keep up with the every day changes to get to where you want to be. It’s all in the details. But I guess some people might get bored of waiting and decide to do something ‘out of the ordinary’.

    I would stay away from dares, or threats, if you have nothing good to offer in return.

  9. I will immediately clutch your rss as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me realize so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

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