NEW YORK: Over 90% of Facebook users that have chosen to follow brands can be considered genuine advocates, an international study has revealed.

DDB, the agency network, found that around a third of regular visitors to pages operated by companies such as Nike and Sony outlined a desire to buy more goods from these firms.

Elsewhere, 92% of this audience would either "certainly" or "probably" recommend corporations and products they "like" on Facebook to their friends.

Although DDB believes Facebook members and brands are now in the midst of a "honeymoon" period, it stressed that even enthusiasts grow impatient with dull, irrelevant content.

Some 36% of the panel had unsubscribed from a product page, generally citing three main reasons - losing interest, material being refreshed too often and the uploading of insufficiently engaging content.

DDB's report was based on a survey of 1,642 Facebook users already tracking brands in the US, UK, Italy, France, Australia and Chile.

Some 55% of respondents were female, the median age reached 31 years old, and 76% logged on to Facebook at least once a day, while many did so with an even greater degree of frequency.

The favourite products among contributors varied, as Nike claimed pole position in the US, Chileans picked Adidas and Italians opted for Nutella. The top five overall comprised Nike, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Nutella and Sony.

The typical Facebook member followed nine brands, with 55% of official fan pages drawn from the media and entertainment sector, 51% representing not-for-profits and 46% championing fashion and luxury labels.

DDB also stated that advertising is the primary driver for consumers signing up to monitor brands, ahead of requests sent by their friends and, crucially, online search.

It thus argued companies neglecting the importance of appearing prominently in search results will fail to capitalise on Facebook's almost exponential growth.

Far from being stimulated by discounts alone, netizens "want to feel more like a VIP who can access exclusive content and information about new products and special offers before the general public can," DDB discovered.

Promotional benefits, including downloadable coupons, were a leading motive for registering support for specific goods, but genuinely preferring the brand, staying up-to-date with line extensions and providing expert opinions constitute similarly influential factors.

In all, 39% of DDB's interviewees said fan pages could be improved through supplying advance information and previews, and 33% suggested adding games and competitions was an appealing extra.

Invitations to related events attracted 33% of those polled, while 21% asserted e-commerce facilities would mark a key step forward.

Conducting discussions with company representatives was greeted warmly by only 14% of people questioned.

Catherine Lautier, director of business intelligence at DDB France, said she had expected respondents to display the most interest in tangible gains, not interaction.

"I thought it would be a lot more passive than that," she said.

Retaining the loyalty of such fans on Facebook will require brands to "apply the principles of classic customer relationship marketing," Lautier added.

Data sourced from AdWeek; additional content by Warc staff