What’s Not to “Like?” Can a Facebook Fan Base Give a Brand the Advertising Reach it Needs?

Karen Nelson-Field, Erica Riebe and Byron Sharp

Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

Management slant

  • The buying concentration of a brand's Facebook fan base is extremely different from that of a typical population of shoppers.
  • The Facebook fan base generates a non NBD-distributed population in that it is very skewed to heavy buyers.
  • Skewing heavy has big implications to marketers who want to use their Facebook fan base for brand growth strategies.
  • Advertising media that skew towards light buyers are particularly valuable – and worth paying extra for.


No other single media platform can boast the speed of user uptake as Facebook. It is estimated that, by 2015, social media will become a mainstream mass-media platform that, in one form or another, will engage one-third of the world’s population. This penetration would offer advertisers access to 80 percent of global consumer expenditures—a potential $29 trillion market (Nuttney, 2010). In light of such predictions, it is understandable that many marketers are including social media in their media mix. They do so, however, with limited understanding of whether social media are more effective than other platforms or of how they can be used most effectively (Nelson-Field and Klose, 2010).