What Are Likes Worth? A Facebook Page Field Experiment

Daniel Mochon, Karen Johnson, Janet Schwartz, Dan Ariely
Article Snapshot
Current average rating    
Key Takeaways

What? Facebook pages can positively effect offline customer behavior.

So What? Facebook pages mainly increase knowledge and engage customers who were previously less involved with the brand and less active on Facebook

Now What? Marketers should treat facebook pages as a traditional advertising outlet and measure outcomes using more traditional measurement tools.

    ​Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the Journal of Marketing Research

    [Full Article] [Google Scholar​]

    Facebook pages can influence offline customer behavior when used as a platform for traditional advertising.


    Facebook page likes can positively affect offline customer behavior.

    Facebook pages may be most effective when used as a traditional advertising platform.


    Research
    Firms are devoting increasingly larger portions of their marketing budgets to Facebook, without knowing whether Facebook pages can affect offline customer behavior, and if so, under which conditions they work best. We developed a method to measure the effect of liking a Facebook page on customers' offline engagement with a brand. We then tested whether Facebook page likes influenced customer behavior via customer driven word of mouth or firm driven advertising. 

    Methods
    We conducted a field experiment in collaboration with Discovery Vitality, an incentive based health and wellness program that tracks offline activity. By using random assignment to invite a subset of customers to like Vitality's Facebook page, we were able to measure the causal impact of Facebook page likes on customer behavior. We also leveraged Facebook's content filter to determine whether pages operated as a platform for customer driven word of mouth or for firm driven advertising.

    Findings
    We found that Facebook pages can positively affect offline customer behavior, but only when a firm pays to boost its page posts. This suggests that Facebook pages primarily operate as a platform for firm-driven advertising, rather than as a platform for customer driven word of mouth.

    Implications
    We show that Facebook page activity can positively affect offline customer behavior. This provides reassurance to firms who devote marketing resources to Facebook pages. We note, however, that contrary to perceptions that Facebook is a new form of ‘social’ marketing, Facebook pages are most effective when used as a traditional advertising platform. As such, marketers should think of the resources they devote to developing and managing Facebook pages similarly to those of any other media tool in the marketing mix. That is, Facebook pages are another effective outlet for paid advertising.

    Questions for the Classroom

      • How do Facebook pages work best: as a platform for word of mouth or for traditional advertising?
      • How can a firm measure the value of its Facebook page?
      • Under what conditions does liking a firm's Facebook page have the largest impact on customer behavior?

    Article Citation
    Daniel Mochon, Karen Johnson, Janet Schwartz, and Dan Ariely (2017) What Are Likes Worth? A Facebook Page Field Experiment. Journal of Marketing Research: April 2017, Vol. 54, No. 2, pp. 306-317.

    doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jmr.15.0409
    [
    Full Article]
    [Google Scholar​]


    Recommended For You:
    AMA PCM Digital Marketing Exam The Value of a Facebook Fan: Does “Liking” Influence Consumer Behavior? What Facebook's New Reactions Mean for Marketers

    AMA PCM Digital Marketing Exam

    The Value of a Facebook Fan: Does “Liking” Influence Consumer Behavior?

    What Facebook's New Reactions Mean for Marketers



    Author Bio:

     
    Daniel Mochon, Karen Johnson, Janet Schwartz, Dan Ariely
    Daniel Mochon is Assistant Professor of Marketing, A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University (e-mail: dmochon@tulane.edu). Karen Johnson is Deputy General Manager, Discovery Vitality and PhD candidate, University of Witwatersrand (e-mail: KarenJ@discovery.co.za). Janet Schwartz is Assistant Professor of Marketing, A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University (e-mail: jschwa@tulane.edu). Dan Ariely is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University (e-mail: dan@danariely.com).
    Add A Comment :
     

    Become a Member
    Access our innovative members-only resources and tools to further your marketing practice.