An interesting article, in the March issue of the Harvard Business Review, reported on a recent Facebook experiment by a cafe chain. The article makes for an interesting read as it is useful to see some empirical data on the benefits of social networking for businesses.
The report indicates that there in the circumstances of the study the researchers were able to identify a measurable benefit.
The researchers began by e-mailing a survey to 13,270 customers from a cafe shop’s mailing list to gather store evaluations and data on shopping behaviour. 689 people responded to this initial survey.
Then, they launched a Facebook page and invited everyone on the mailing list to become a fan. The cafe shop updated its page several times a week with pictures of goodies, news about contests and promotions, links to favourable reviews, and introductions to employees of the cafe shop.
Three months later, the researchers resurveyed customers, this time receiving 1,067 responses from the cafe’s Facebook fans, Facebook users who did not become fans, and customers not on Facebook.
The researchers analysed the data sets separately and then compared participants in the first survey with those in the second who had become fans of the cafe shop on Facebook.
According to the reported results, Facebook changed customer behaviour for the better. People who had replied to both surveys and had become fans ended up being the cafe shop’s best customers: though they spent about the same amount of money per visit, they increased their store visits per month after becoming Facebook fans and generated more positive word of mouth than non-fans. They went to the cafe shop 20% more often than non-fans and gave the store the highest share of their overall dining-out dollars. They were the most likely to recommend the cafe shop to friends and had the highest average ‘Net Promoter Score’ (75), compared with 53 for Facebook users who were not fans and 66 for customers not on Facebook.
Facebook fans also reported significantly greater emotional attachment to the cafe shop, 3.4 on a four-point scale, compared with 3.0 for other customers.
Additionally, fans were the most likely to say they chose the cafe shop over other establishments whenever possible.