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WHAT DO USERS WANT FROM
BUSINESS PAGES IN FACEBOOK?
The secret of a successful relationship between Users and Business
Pages




Results report of the online survey on Facebook users’ attitudes
towards Business Pages




                                             Lorenzo Amadei – lamadei@cuoa.it
                                           Claudia Zarabara – czarabara@cuoa.it
What do Users Want from
                                                            Business Pages in Facebook?




Introduction

Methodology
Data was gathered through an online survey conducted between April and May 2011.
Participation in the survey was entirely voluntary (see following paragraph about how invitations
to the survey were sent) and, apart form some basic classification data, completely anonymous.
The self-selection bias in the respondents’ group was, in our opinion, not relevant in this case
because of the nature and the goals of the survey itself. Invitations to participate in the survey
were extended to people already using Facebook and, if possible, already fans of at least one
business page.

As stated before, invites to participate in the survey were sent exclusively via the web, using
several resources:
   − Fondazione CUOA’s newsletter
   − Dedicated “tab” in Fondazione CUOA’s page in Facebook
        (http://www.facebook.com/cuoaxte)
   − Twitter
   − Online ‘word of mouth’, by asking CUOA’s and our own personal contacts to
        share/forward/tweet the invite
   − Google AdWords’ campaign
   − Facebook advertising campaign


Questionnaire description
The survey included 21 questions (20 multiple choice questions and 1 open-text) presented in
three parts:
PERSONAL DATA: 4 questions. Personal data (sex, age, qualification, occupation) needed for
results’ classification.
USE OF FACEBOOK: 7 questions. The second part of the survey focused on the use of
Facebook by the respondents (frequency of access, “seniority” of use, number of friends, etc)
PAGE FANS: 10 questions. The third part, the core of the questionnaire, surveyed the attitudes
and behaviours of users towards Facebook business pages: number of pages followed, reasons
to follow some pages, reasons to leave pages, etc.




Goals of the survey
The survey aimed to analyse the attitudes of Facebook users towards business pages. With
‘business pages’, we hereafter refer to the pages created and owned by companies, public
institutions, NPOs/NGOs, celebrities, etc, as opposed to personal profile pages owned by
Facebook single users.
Papers, posts, and analyses pertaining to “business and social media” are usually focused on
the reasons why companies must be on social networks and on the attitude and behaviour they
must adopt, as seen from a marketing point of view.
Studies taken from the point of view of the user are, by contrast, very rare: what do users look
for when consulting Facebook business pages? What are their expectations, what do they want
to read and what do they do not want to find on those pages? Why and when does a user
decide to stop being a fan of a page?
This survey attempted to address precisely these issues.




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What do Users Want from
                                                                Business Pages in Facebook?




First part: respondents’ profile

849 people participated in the survey. This is their profile:




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What do Users Want from
                                                                     Business Pages in Facebook?




The respondent sample is varied and relatively well-balanced.
Some factors inevitably affected the composition of the group: the channels chosen to invite
people, the target of the CUOA newsletter (mainly addressed to persons with a degree and
aged 25-34 or 35-54), the personal contacts/friends we involved and so on.
However, the resulting group is accurate in its reflection of the broader Facebook user
composition 1 . For example, the male/female ratio of 51% - 49% in the survey’s respondent
group is very close to the medium’s general male/female user ratio (54% of Facebook users are
men and 46% women).




1
    http://businesspeople.it/Business/Media/Il-boom-di-Facebook-Italia-19-milioni-di-utenti-attivi_20606/

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What do Users Want from
                                                           Business Pages in Facebook?




Second part: Use of Facebook

The second part of the survey focused on a variety of aspects related to the use of Facebook by
the respondents.


Q: On which days do you connect to Facebook?




Facebook is accessed daily by 86% of respondents: it has become an everyday activity, with
only 6% of respondents claiming to use Facebook only on Saturdays and Sundays.
Although we do not expressly ask at what time of the day people connect to Facebook, it is very
probable that this access also occurs at work and during working hours (as the following
question also implies). This may be due to different factors:
    - Social networks used for work, either by professionals, people looking for job
        opportunities, or because of tasks related to the individual’s job.
    - The diffusion of smartphones, which give people access to Facebook without the
        need of passing through the company network.




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What do Users Want from
                                                                 Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: How often do you connect to Facebook?




Figures for this question confirm the daily use of the world’s most famous Social Network. 78%
of respondents connect at least once a day, and 57% of these more than once a day: this
strengthens the likelihood of the supposition above, that Facebook nowadays is not only a
social environment, but also a working tool, since it is highly probable that ‘more times a day’
includes also connections from the workplace.
Another possible reason behind the frequent use of Facebook is its increasing role as an e-mail
substitute, especially among young people. “A recent ComScore 2 research showed the steady
decrease in e-mail use by users under 54. This drop is particularly significant (-48%) in 12-17
year olds, that is the ‘digital native’ age group” 3 .
Moreover, in 2010, Facebook was the top-visited website in the USA, surpassing even Google 4 ,
which could suggest the possible use of Facebook as a substitute search engine in some
cases.
At the same time, the graph shows that 8% of respondents access Facebook once a week at
most: this percentage will probably drop in the future, but could be seen to represent that
portion of Facebook users who connect to the social network only rarely, whether out of
personal choice or technological incompetence 5 .




2
  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/technology/21email.html?_r=2
3
  Email? Roba per vecchi - http://www.webnews.it/2010/12/23/email-roba-per-vecchi/
4
  http://www.hitwise.com/us/press-center/press-releases/facebook-was-the-top-search-term-in-2010-for-
sec/
5
  Of course people that do NOT use Facebook at all are also not considered in this question, but since the
survey aimed at Facebook users and their attitudes towards business pages, non-Facebook users were
not contacted at all.

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What do Users Want from
                                                                  Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: When you connect to Facebook, for how long do you usually remain
logged on?




More than half of all survey participants claimed to remain logged on to Facebook for half an
hour at most each session, connecting more times during the day (as shown by the previous
question): this seems to be a “let’s see if there’s something new” attitude, more than a genuinely
active participation in the social network. Somehow it recalls the 1-9-90 6 online communities’
theory, which asserts that most users are just lurkers and limit themselves to reading and
observing what others are saying and writing.
Nonetheless, there is also the 14% of respondents who keep their Facebook page constantly
open on their PC or phone: this figure represents the ‘digital native’ group and all those people
with a strong passion for technology and social media, or those who strongly believe in the
opportunities the web may offer. Again, a strong role is played by the growing number of
smartphones and their ability to offer constant internet access, as well as by the related
diffusion of social network targeted apps.




6
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html

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What do Users Want from
                                                            Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: How long have you been using Facebook?




Figures in this graph reflect the general historical trend of Facebook users in Italy: in January
2008 there were about 200,000 registered users, while this number reached 20 million in 2011 7 :
Facebook use “boomed” in Italy starting from the second half of 2008 (which corresponds to the
26% who answered “three years” to this question) and then continued its growth in 2009 and
2010 (which corresponds to the 35% of respondents who answered “two years”).




7
    http://www.vincos.it/osservatorio-facebook/

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What do Users Want from
                                                              Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: How many friends do you have on Facebook?




The declared average number of friends is between 100 and 300.
This is not surprising and confirms figures stated by Facebook in their official data (“Average
user has 130 friends” 8 ); it also refers to the “ideal number of friends in Facebook” and to the
several articles that have recently appeared on this subject 9 , which usually indicate 150 as the
number of friends that can really be “managed” in a social network.
A study on this same subject, by sociologist Cameron Marlow, pointed out that “[…]Users with a
list of 150 friends actually maintain their closest relationships with a smaller collection of
Facebook friends: women maintain relationships with 22 of their 150 friends, men with 19;
women send “one-way communications” to 11 of their 150 friends, men to 7; 7 out of 150 are
the average mutual communications with friends for women, 5 for men 10 ”. In other words,
although the medium theoretically allows for hundreds of friends, the real social activity is far
narrower.

It is, however, worth noting that 39% of respondents claimed to have more than 300 friends on
Facebook (and 19% even more than 500), while only 4% claimed to have less than 10 friends.




8
  http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
9
  Example of an article on this subject:
http://www.corriere.it/scienze_e_tecnologie/10_gennaio_25/numero-ideale-amici-facebook_0ab0ebbe-
09bf-11df-bcb3-00144f02aabe.shtml
10
   Research by Cameron Marlow on Facebook users: http://overstated.net/2009/03/09/maintained-
relationships-on-facebook cited in http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook

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What do Users Want from
                                                            Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: Why did you join Facebook?




In its homepage Facebook states its mission: Facebook helps you connect and share with the
people in your life. This is clearly confirmed by the data collected from this question.
More than 50% of respondents affirmed to have joined Facebook because they wanted to keep
in touch with long-time friends or old friends (classmates, relatives, persons or friends living
far away, etc).
Secondly, it is curiosity (39%) that brings people to join Facebook, while respectively 28% and
23% claimed to have joined for professional reasons and to stay informed on the initiatives
of companies, institutions, celebrities and so on.
Facebook, therefore, seems to meet two needs:
     - the social need to maintain relationships with friends and relatives;
     - the need to stay informed, in a new way, on a variety of subjects (business, social
         issues, politics, etc - see, in the following pages, the typology of pages people claimed
         to be fans of).




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What do Users Want from
                                                               Business Pages in Facebook?




Third part: Users and business pages in Facebook

Q: Are you a fan of at least one company/institution/celebrity in
Facebook?




With this question begins the core of the survey: the relationship between users and Facebook
business pages.
About 82% of respondents – more than 8 out of 10 – affirmed to be fans of at least one
company, institution or celebrity page on Facebook 11 .
This is a very interesting result. To choose to be a “fan” is to create a clear and specific
relationship between yourself and the object of your “I like”. It is a conscious way of creating an
association between one’s name and a company/institution, and thus explicitly declare to one’s
friends an affiliation with that company. From a company’s point of view, therefore, the number
of “I like”s represents an important factor when measuring e-reputation and the more or less
positive general sentiment of users.




11
 As we stated in the online survey’s introduction, with “fan” we refer to having clicked “I like” on a
Facebook page. We decided to keep the term “fan” as it is of very common use.

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What do Users Want from
                                                             Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: What kind of pages are you a fan of on Facebook?




We intentionally provided broad, catch-all answers for this question: trying to be more specific
would have taken us to smaller categories, which could not have been exhaustive in any case.
The four possible answers provided are intended to capture the main, common typologies of
business pages:
    - Companies: since companies are more and more present on Facebook, we wanted to
       investigate whether this effort and the ubiquitous “mantra” yelled at companies that “you
       have to be on Facebook!” were actually getting some positive results, at least prompting
       users to become fans of the pages. To see that 68.0% of respondents are indeed fans
       of at least one business page means that companies’ presence on Facebook is, at the
       very least, no longer going unnoticed

    -   Celebrities and VIPs: the whole concept of being a “fan” was essentially born with the
        emergence of VIPs and celebrities; to be a fan of a music band, an actor or a politician
        is something that existed well before Facebook. It was interesting to see if and how
        much of this phenomenon had transferred into the social network. Even in this case, the
        percentage of respondents, 62.5%, is quite high

    -   NGOs and NPOs: since opening a page is cost-free Facebook is, arguably, one of the
        best ways for non-profit organisations and other NGOs to draw attention to and raise
        interest in their activities. Two different kinds of pages should actually be considered to
        exist in this category:
             o NGO e NPO institutional pages
             o Pages created by users supporting social causes and initiatives. An increasing
                  number of people are indeed meeting thanks to Facebook, in order to support
                  organisations, institutions and social causes that are born inside the social
                  network and later come out from the virtual space as real, concrete actions.
                  Examples of this can be found in recent events in which Facebook played a key
                  role in their diffusion and success, such as “Los indignatos” in Spain, or the
                  referendum-supporting campaign in Italy.




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What do Users Want from
                                                                Business Pages in Facebook?




    -   Public institutions: public administrations are nowadays starting to use more and
        more social networks. Therefore it was interesting to see how many users are starting
        to interact with them through their Facebook pages, just as with private companies. Our
        survey showed that more than one out of three Facebook users is a fan of a public
        institution’s page.
        In this regard, it is also worth noting that public administrations are beginning to use
        social media not only to communicate and interact with citizens, but also to provide
        them with services.




Q: How many pages are you a fan of on Facebook?




More than 50% of those interviewed are fans of a limited number of pages, 1 to 10: this may be
due to the fact that most connections between the user and the company/organisation are
consciously selected and sought out.
The first pages users click “I like” on are likely to be pages that really are of interest to the user,
and that they really wish to be mentioned on their profile page; later on, it is likely that the user
begins to follow a growing number of pages for a variety of different reasons (see also the next
question’s results): a friend asking them to become fan, a page they find funny or amusing, a
click on an ad they find somewhere online … a behaviour far less “active” and much more
“reactive” to external input.




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What do Users Want from
                                                               Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: How did you find out about the pages you are now following on
Facebook?




The viral effect of being a fan is clearly visible: almost 75% of respondents became a fan of a
page following suggestions from friends, who were already fans. To this must be added an
additional 30.8% word of mouth, which is greatly amplified in social contexts (for example by
simply hitting the share button).
The Facebook internal search engine appears to be important, too (43%). This indicates the
importance of the correct choice of name for a business page, since it can strongly influence its
traceability for better or worse in terms of users’ search engine results.
36% of respondents claimed to have learned about a business page from the
company/institution’s official website: this confirms the importance of including in a website
a link to the company’s Facebook page 12 (there are several ways to do this, for example with
the badges created by Facebook itself or with one of the many widgets available online).
Other options, such as traditional search engines, newsletters, online and offline advertising,
seem to be less important in letting people know about Facebook business pages. However,
traditional advertising (particularly television and magazines) increasingly incorporates links or
icons referring to a Facebook page: a sign, probably, of a growing integration between the
different communication channels and of a marketing strategy that more and more often
includes web 2.0 tools.




12
   On the integration between company website and social tools, see for example:
http://mooltoweb.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/integrare-sito-web-aziendale-e-social-media/

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What do Users Want from
                                                                     Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: For what reasons did you become a fan of the pages you follow on
Facebook?




The most important reason for a user to click “I like” on a page is, as might be expected, his or
her hobbies and personal interests, followed by the desire to receive information quickly
on initiatives, news, events, etc. Almost 50% of those interviewed claimed to be fans of a
business page out of professional interest, a result which should be read together with the
additional 7.4% who were looking for jobs: these two figures clearly highlight a professional and
work-related use of Facebook, besides the obvious ones of recreation and entertainment.
More and more, we see job-seeking and Facebook entwining: many search and selection
agencies post their job offers on Facebook and the personal profile easily becomes the first
“business card” of a candidate … There is an interesting paper on this subject, published by
Italian Privacy’s Guarantor, about Social Network risks, which warns users “Do you know that
search and selection agencies seek information on candidates through main online search
            13
engines?”

Furthermore, 16.5% of respondents said that they became fan of a page because they were
looking for a direct interaction with a company/institution: a social network can act as a direct
communication channel between a company and its customers. This confirms the importance of
the pressing invites to companies to start using social media, since there is a fair number of
users who seek direct contact with them inside Facebook.

Lastly, it is also worth mentioning the 31% of respondents deciding to become fans of a page
because of a sense of belonging. From a business point of view, this is important information
which demonstrates that not only is it important for a company to be present on Facebook, but
also to be able to build and maintain a community, interacting with customers/fans and
rewarding them by listening to their suggestions and comments.




13
   Italian Privacy’s Guarantor - “Social Network: attenzione agli effetti collaterali” (Social Network, beware
of side effects) http://www.garanteprivacy.it/garante/document?ID=1617888

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What do Users Want from
                                                               Business Pages in Facebook?




As C. Heuer says “Participation is marketing. If you are trying to sell something to the
community, and that is your reason for being there, it will be obvious to those people
and you will never be as successful as you can be. If you are participating because you
really want to contribute to the community, because you really want to share what you
know, because you really want to be of service to the community and its members, you will sell
to the right people BECAUSE of your sincerity and honesty” 14 .




Q: How often should a company/institution/celebrity post on Facebook?




One of the important aims in our research was to try to identify the ideal frequency for posting
on business pages: is there a maximum number of tolerated (or welcomed) posts? Is it
possible to optimise business pages to be popular with fans and to best meet their
expectations?
45% of those who answered our survey did not appreciate excessive obtrusiveness: posts
should be kept to a maximum of a few every week. 38% asked for at least one post a day, and
only 17% appreciated more frequent posts by companies and other page owners.
This data is both meaningful and interesting: it indirectly shows that communication in the social
network can easily become excessive and annoying (and therefore backfire on the page
owner).
As we are referring to a very fast-paced way of communicating, the main risk is posting too
much, with some possible consequences:
    - Irritating users, and therefore facing the risk of users quitting the page because he or
        she feels their homepage is being “invaded” by the company’s posts (see later on).
    - Giving the posts a “routine” image, with the effect that they are not considered
        anymore, they pass unnoticed, and therefore lose any communication value.
    - Giving the post a very short life: when several posts are published, the older ones
        quickly scroll down and completely lose their visibility on the page.




14
  Chris Heuer – cited in "Il marketing nel Social Web" (“The New Community Rules: Marketing on the
Social Web”) by Tamar Weinberg

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What do Users Want from
                                                              Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: Have you ever posted on the pages you follow?




The interaction originating on the page is one of the key elements that must be monitored if we
are to understand whether the page is actually working: not the one-way communication
brought by the posts inserted only by the page owner, but the cross talk made up of fans’
comments and of conversations started by users. This question, along with the two questions
following, was designed to reveal whether users and fans of pages interact on these pages and
how.
More than 75% claimed to have participated in a page’s life by sending posts, comments,
requests and/or by clicking on the “I like” under the posts. Only 23% never took an active role
on the page and just read what was already posted; 1% said they could not interact because
fans’ posts on the page were blocked.
To decide to block fans’ posts is a difficult and tricky option because it risks appearing unfriendly
and reducing the page to a mere company posts’ board: an advertising page. This is not the
best (and possibly not the right) use of a social network, whose strength, on the contrary, lies
exactly in the possibility of involving users and of establishing a real dialogue with them.
However, this opportunity is often considered too dangerous by many companies.




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What do Users Want from
                                                            Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: If you have, what kind of posts did you insert?




To those who claimed, in the previous question, to have actively participated in business pages,
we asked them to specify the level of this participation. Most of them, more than 82%, affirmed
to have clicked on “I like”, the famous Facebook “thumb up”, which represents the lowest and
easiest interaction level.
More than half of the respondents (53%) also inserted messages (comments, posts,
suggestions, etc) and 14.5% said they made requests.
A peculiar result (and a good omen) is that only 3% posted complaints or criticisms on
business pages: complaints are usually indicated by companies as the main deterrent to their
establishing a presence on social networks.
The overall answer pattern in this question precisely reflects the typical development of the
relationship between users and business pages. The first step, the first action sought from the
fan, is the “I like” click: a very quick and easy action that does not expose the user (he is not
expressing an opinion, not making any request), but still indicates his willingness to show his
appreciation for the page and the company/institution behind it. The following step is for the
user to place comments and posts: thus the page stops being a company board and shifts to
being a dialogue with the customer. At the same time the company can obtain useful
information and tips for its activity and communication strategy.




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What do Users Want from
                                                          Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: Have you ever “done” something as a result of a post on the pages you
follow on Facebook?




A further step is to prompt the user to do something outside the page: clicking “I like” and
inserting a post are actions that remain inside the page.

24.3% of respondents said that they did not do anything as a result of the posts they found on
the pages they are fans of.

On the contrary, 60% has shared with their network the information found on the pages, and
37% has talked about it online with their contacts outside Facebook.

Business pages convinced 32.7% to participate in an event/seminar, and 5.7% to buy a
product or service. 15.8% asked for further information about something read on the page.
As with the previous question, the “normal” evolution of the relationship of user/page can be
outlined.




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What do Users Want from
                                                             Business Pages in Facebook?




The first “active” behaviour is the re-sharing of the contents found on the page on one’s
profile wall, in the same way as a user normally does with videos, photos or other content
published on friends’ ‘walls’. This is a simple commitment for the user, all things considered: the
whole structure of Facebook and of its pages already drives the user to share content, for
example through the “share” button present below each post:




The following steps require from the user a stronger engagement or commitment that requires
going out of Facebook: to ask for information, talk about what was read, participate in an event
… even to buy a service/product (which fundamentally is the real goal of any company’s
communication activity).
However, even without considering the final purchasing stage, already sharing information,
talking about page content, and asking for further information create an important
amplification effect of all company communication, and, better still, without any additional
costs for the company.




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What do Users Want from
                                                           Business Pages in Facebook?




Q: What would you expect to find on business pages on Facebook that is,
instead, missing?




This question completes the previous one.
Are the published contents sufficient? Did they convince you? Did they meet your
expectations? Or is something missing: could the page be improved, enriched, completed?

First of all, it is interesting to note how fans’ expectations regarding these pages are mainly
related to initiatives specifically reserved for them. More than 43% would like initiatives for
fans only, which emphasises the sense of belonging to a fan group, but also the expectations to
obtain something tangible as a reward for being a fan and for “tying” one’s name to that of the
company.
Another significant element is the 34.8% of respondents asking page owners to listen more
attentively to the requests and the suggestions posted by users on the page … probably
because this attention is actually missing: social networks are, by nature, based on interaction
between users and with them, but this interaction is often undervalued, if not intentionally
avoided.
Along the same lines, we can include the 23.4% expecting feedback to the complaints posted
on the page and the 26% who would appreciate post-sale help and assistance: both these
results are hints that companies need to better manage interaction with their fans and the
growing expectations of social networks’ users.
24.1% is satisfied with the pages’ content: this is obviously very good from a company
communication’s point of view. Explanations for this answer can be fundamentally either: the
company/institution is indeed good at managing its social spaces, or the users do not have high
expectations from business pages in Facebook ...




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Q: What may cause you to stop following a page on Facebook?




The most common mistake made by business page owners seems to be the excessive
number of posts published on the page: almost 65% of those interviewed indicated this as the
main reason for quitting a page. Of great significance is also the annoyance at repeated
messages, which prompts almost 42% to leave the page. On the other hand, too few posts do
not seem to have the same impact on users’ opinions: only 10.5% indicated this as displeasing.
49.6% do not like “too commercial” posts, 21.2% too long posts, and 40.1% are particularly
irritated by not useful and uninteresting posts.
Another element emerging from this question is the attention given to the company’s external
behaviour: 25.8% of respondents said they would leave a page if they did not approve of a
company/institution/celebrity’s actions. Here the e-reputation topic arises and, with it, the need
for companies, institutions, and celebrities to correctly monitor social media.
Lastly, 19% quit a page when they were following too many and therefore needed to cull
them: as already mentioned, when discussing the number of pages a person is a fan of, the first
pages chosen are probably those the user cares most about and thus are a result of a more
reasoned and “want-based” decision, whereas, when the number of these pages grows, the
click on “I like” becomes less meditated and more instinctive (a friend asking to become fan, a
funny page, an event such as a concert or a protest).
When the homepage becomes too regularly full of posts from business pages and thus
overwhelming those published by friends, the user decides to “unlike” a page (thus
automatically stopping any posts being received on their homepage), choosing between the
least relevant or the most invasive ones.




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What do Users Want from
                                                               Business Pages in Facebook?




Conclusions

Facebook nowadays provides companies with a potential audience of more than 700 millions
users, of which more than 19 million are in Italy alone: it has become an invaluable and
inescapable tool and element of business communication.
Looking at the user’s point of view (which, again, was the goal of our research), the following
are, in our opinion, the main points that emerged from this survey:
    - Facebook access is a daily routine, with several connections being made throughout
         the day;
    - the main reason for a person joining Facebook is the social factor: to remain in
         contact with everyday friends or with persons living far away;
    - more than 8 out of 10 users are fans of at least one business page on Facebook,
         therefore the presence of companies, institutions, and celebrities on Facebook is
         nowadays considered normal and is not opposed by users, provided that page owners
         do not post an excessive number of messages or become too repetitive or overtly
         promotional in their content;
    - word of mouth and sharing are the main means via which a page is promoted and
         attracts new users to it. Of course, a user shares the page content with his contacts
         only when he finds something worth sharing (see later on);
    - for users, pages are a way to stay informed and up-to-date; however, dedicated
         content for fans only is also expected;
    - users are well aware that they can choose what to follow and have a clear idea of the
         type of content they do not want:
              o they do not want only advertising messages
              o they do not want too many posts
              o they do not want repeated messages
    - page interaction is becoming more and more common: at first through the simple “I
         like” click, and later through a dialogue with the page, via posting messages,
         comments, requests etc.
    - a well-managed business page can be really effective and can engage users and
         convince them to actively:
              o share its contents with other users on Facebook
              o talk about the page and the company outside Facebook
              o buy a product/service or support a cause


With due attention and regard for its users, Facebook business pages can become a
powerful and effective communication tool for companies, institutions, and organisations.
The crucial point is how the communication is conducted, namely, in the right way: it must be
able to involve and engage the user, acknowledge him or her for associating their name with
the page, and credit them with intelligence and value, which, in turn, requires creating direct
and transparent dialogues and avoiding exceedingly promotional or excessive messages.
In this sense, the project “Nel Mulino che vorrei” (The mill I wish) presented by Barilla during a
workshop at Fondazione CUOA in May 2010 is particularly revealing. In its introduction it states
“This project does not speak, it listens - This project does not tell, it creates – This project does
                      15
not teach, it learns”




15
   Taken from “Nel Mulino che vorrei” – slides by S. Sartori (Barilla)
http://www.slideshare.net/fondazionecuoa/nel-mulino-che-vorrei-4002791

                                                                                              23/26
What do Users Want from
                                                             Business Pages in Facebook?




The surplus value that a social network such as Facebook offers business to communication is
clearly acquired by listening to the customer, in a two-way interaction.
What users are asking for is to be able to express their opinions in a peer-to-peer relationship
with the company or the institution they are fans of: for the business page owner that means
learning to quit self-referencing and shift the focus to the wants and needs of the customer or, in
this case, user.




24/26
What do Users Want from
                                                              Business Pages in Facebook?




About the authors

Fondazione CUOA

Fifty years of history, strongly rooted in the North-East of Italy, the area boasting several
entrepreneurs and managers of excellence.
Fondazione CUOA is the reference point, both national and international, for entrepreneurial
and managerial training: a privileged environment where personal aspirations and individual
skills meet and grow.
CUOA's offer - made of MBAs, masters and executive and custom courses - provides concrete
and immediate answers and is able to take persons, companies and institutions to success
through new organizational, managerial and business models.
A prestigious 18th century villa is the ideal setting for its activities and for everyone willing to
invest in professional growth.




Lorenzo Amadei and Claudia Zarabara

Lorenzo Amadei and Claudia Zarabara have been collaborating with Fondazione CUOA for
many years, focusing on new technologies and their applications in business contexts.
In recent years they concentrated on social media and web 2.0 themes, managing social media
marketing for Fondazione CUOA and other business companies. This is the second survey they
developed on the use of social networks.




Licence

                 Copyright Fondazione CUOA. This work is licensed under a Creative
                 Commons “Attribution – Non Commercial – No Derivs 3.0 Unported License”
                 (see http://creativecommons.org/)

This report is the exclusive property of Fondazione CUOA. You are free to distribute it, promote
it, share it, so long as you cite the original source and authors.
This report may not be transformed, altered or sold.



                                                                                             25/26
What do Users Want from
                                         Business Pages in Facebook?




Fondazione CUOA

Villa Valmarana Morosini
36077 Altavilla Vicentina (VI) - ITALY
tel. + 39 0444 333711

Lorenzo Amadei – lamadei@cuoa.it
Claudia Zarabara – czarabara@cuoa.it

www.cuoa.it

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What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook

  • 1. WHAT DO USERS WANT FROM BUSINESS PAGES IN FACEBOOK? The secret of a successful relationship between Users and Business Pages Results report of the online survey on Facebook users’ attitudes towards Business Pages Lorenzo Amadei – lamadei@cuoa.it Claudia Zarabara – czarabara@cuoa.it
  • 2. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Introduction Methodology Data was gathered through an online survey conducted between April and May 2011. Participation in the survey was entirely voluntary (see following paragraph about how invitations to the survey were sent) and, apart form some basic classification data, completely anonymous. The self-selection bias in the respondents’ group was, in our opinion, not relevant in this case because of the nature and the goals of the survey itself. Invitations to participate in the survey were extended to people already using Facebook and, if possible, already fans of at least one business page. As stated before, invites to participate in the survey were sent exclusively via the web, using several resources: − Fondazione CUOA’s newsletter − Dedicated “tab” in Fondazione CUOA’s page in Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/cuoaxte) − Twitter − Online ‘word of mouth’, by asking CUOA’s and our own personal contacts to share/forward/tweet the invite − Google AdWords’ campaign − Facebook advertising campaign Questionnaire description The survey included 21 questions (20 multiple choice questions and 1 open-text) presented in three parts: PERSONAL DATA: 4 questions. Personal data (sex, age, qualification, occupation) needed for results’ classification. USE OF FACEBOOK: 7 questions. The second part of the survey focused on the use of Facebook by the respondents (frequency of access, “seniority” of use, number of friends, etc) PAGE FANS: 10 questions. The third part, the core of the questionnaire, surveyed the attitudes and behaviours of users towards Facebook business pages: number of pages followed, reasons to follow some pages, reasons to leave pages, etc. Goals of the survey The survey aimed to analyse the attitudes of Facebook users towards business pages. With ‘business pages’, we hereafter refer to the pages created and owned by companies, public institutions, NPOs/NGOs, celebrities, etc, as opposed to personal profile pages owned by Facebook single users. Papers, posts, and analyses pertaining to “business and social media” are usually focused on the reasons why companies must be on social networks and on the attitude and behaviour they must adopt, as seen from a marketing point of view. Studies taken from the point of view of the user are, by contrast, very rare: what do users look for when consulting Facebook business pages? What are their expectations, what do they want to read and what do they do not want to find on those pages? Why and when does a user decide to stop being a fan of a page? This survey attempted to address precisely these issues. 2/26
  • 3. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? First part: respondents’ profile 849 people participated in the survey. This is their profile: 3/26
  • 4. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? The respondent sample is varied and relatively well-balanced. Some factors inevitably affected the composition of the group: the channels chosen to invite people, the target of the CUOA newsletter (mainly addressed to persons with a degree and aged 25-34 or 35-54), the personal contacts/friends we involved and so on. However, the resulting group is accurate in its reflection of the broader Facebook user composition 1 . For example, the male/female ratio of 51% - 49% in the survey’s respondent group is very close to the medium’s general male/female user ratio (54% of Facebook users are men and 46% women). 1 http://businesspeople.it/Business/Media/Il-boom-di-Facebook-Italia-19-milioni-di-utenti-attivi_20606/ 4/26
  • 5. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Second part: Use of Facebook The second part of the survey focused on a variety of aspects related to the use of Facebook by the respondents. Q: On which days do you connect to Facebook? Facebook is accessed daily by 86% of respondents: it has become an everyday activity, with only 6% of respondents claiming to use Facebook only on Saturdays and Sundays. Although we do not expressly ask at what time of the day people connect to Facebook, it is very probable that this access also occurs at work and during working hours (as the following question also implies). This may be due to different factors: - Social networks used for work, either by professionals, people looking for job opportunities, or because of tasks related to the individual’s job. - The diffusion of smartphones, which give people access to Facebook without the need of passing through the company network. 5/26
  • 6. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: How often do you connect to Facebook? Figures for this question confirm the daily use of the world’s most famous Social Network. 78% of respondents connect at least once a day, and 57% of these more than once a day: this strengthens the likelihood of the supposition above, that Facebook nowadays is not only a social environment, but also a working tool, since it is highly probable that ‘more times a day’ includes also connections from the workplace. Another possible reason behind the frequent use of Facebook is its increasing role as an e-mail substitute, especially among young people. “A recent ComScore 2 research showed the steady decrease in e-mail use by users under 54. This drop is particularly significant (-48%) in 12-17 year olds, that is the ‘digital native’ age group” 3 . Moreover, in 2010, Facebook was the top-visited website in the USA, surpassing even Google 4 , which could suggest the possible use of Facebook as a substitute search engine in some cases. At the same time, the graph shows that 8% of respondents access Facebook once a week at most: this percentage will probably drop in the future, but could be seen to represent that portion of Facebook users who connect to the social network only rarely, whether out of personal choice or technological incompetence 5 . 2 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/technology/21email.html?_r=2 3 Email? Roba per vecchi - http://www.webnews.it/2010/12/23/email-roba-per-vecchi/ 4 http://www.hitwise.com/us/press-center/press-releases/facebook-was-the-top-search-term-in-2010-for- sec/ 5 Of course people that do NOT use Facebook at all are also not considered in this question, but since the survey aimed at Facebook users and their attitudes towards business pages, non-Facebook users were not contacted at all. 6/26
  • 7. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: When you connect to Facebook, for how long do you usually remain logged on? More than half of all survey participants claimed to remain logged on to Facebook for half an hour at most each session, connecting more times during the day (as shown by the previous question): this seems to be a “let’s see if there’s something new” attitude, more than a genuinely active participation in the social network. Somehow it recalls the 1-9-90 6 online communities’ theory, which asserts that most users are just lurkers and limit themselves to reading and observing what others are saying and writing. Nonetheless, there is also the 14% of respondents who keep their Facebook page constantly open on their PC or phone: this figure represents the ‘digital native’ group and all those people with a strong passion for technology and social media, or those who strongly believe in the opportunities the web may offer. Again, a strong role is played by the growing number of smartphones and their ability to offer constant internet access, as well as by the related diffusion of social network targeted apps. 6 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html 7/26
  • 8. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: How long have you been using Facebook? Figures in this graph reflect the general historical trend of Facebook users in Italy: in January 2008 there were about 200,000 registered users, while this number reached 20 million in 2011 7 : Facebook use “boomed” in Italy starting from the second half of 2008 (which corresponds to the 26% who answered “three years” to this question) and then continued its growth in 2009 and 2010 (which corresponds to the 35% of respondents who answered “two years”). 7 http://www.vincos.it/osservatorio-facebook/ 8/26
  • 9. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: How many friends do you have on Facebook? The declared average number of friends is between 100 and 300. This is not surprising and confirms figures stated by Facebook in their official data (“Average user has 130 friends” 8 ); it also refers to the “ideal number of friends in Facebook” and to the several articles that have recently appeared on this subject 9 , which usually indicate 150 as the number of friends that can really be “managed” in a social network. A study on this same subject, by sociologist Cameron Marlow, pointed out that “[…]Users with a list of 150 friends actually maintain their closest relationships with a smaller collection of Facebook friends: women maintain relationships with 22 of their 150 friends, men with 19; women send “one-way communications” to 11 of their 150 friends, men to 7; 7 out of 150 are the average mutual communications with friends for women, 5 for men 10 ”. In other words, although the medium theoretically allows for hundreds of friends, the real social activity is far narrower. It is, however, worth noting that 39% of respondents claimed to have more than 300 friends on Facebook (and 19% even more than 500), while only 4% claimed to have less than 10 friends. 8 http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics 9 Example of an article on this subject: http://www.corriere.it/scienze_e_tecnologie/10_gennaio_25/numero-ideale-amici-facebook_0ab0ebbe- 09bf-11df-bcb3-00144f02aabe.shtml 10 Research by Cameron Marlow on Facebook users: http://overstated.net/2009/03/09/maintained- relationships-on-facebook cited in http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook 9/26
  • 10. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: Why did you join Facebook? In its homepage Facebook states its mission: Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life. This is clearly confirmed by the data collected from this question. More than 50% of respondents affirmed to have joined Facebook because they wanted to keep in touch with long-time friends or old friends (classmates, relatives, persons or friends living far away, etc). Secondly, it is curiosity (39%) that brings people to join Facebook, while respectively 28% and 23% claimed to have joined for professional reasons and to stay informed on the initiatives of companies, institutions, celebrities and so on. Facebook, therefore, seems to meet two needs: - the social need to maintain relationships with friends and relatives; - the need to stay informed, in a new way, on a variety of subjects (business, social issues, politics, etc - see, in the following pages, the typology of pages people claimed to be fans of). 10/26
  • 11. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Third part: Users and business pages in Facebook Q: Are you a fan of at least one company/institution/celebrity in Facebook? With this question begins the core of the survey: the relationship between users and Facebook business pages. About 82% of respondents – more than 8 out of 10 – affirmed to be fans of at least one company, institution or celebrity page on Facebook 11 . This is a very interesting result. To choose to be a “fan” is to create a clear and specific relationship between yourself and the object of your “I like”. It is a conscious way of creating an association between one’s name and a company/institution, and thus explicitly declare to one’s friends an affiliation with that company. From a company’s point of view, therefore, the number of “I like”s represents an important factor when measuring e-reputation and the more or less positive general sentiment of users. 11 As we stated in the online survey’s introduction, with “fan” we refer to having clicked “I like” on a Facebook page. We decided to keep the term “fan” as it is of very common use. 11/26
  • 12. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: What kind of pages are you a fan of on Facebook? We intentionally provided broad, catch-all answers for this question: trying to be more specific would have taken us to smaller categories, which could not have been exhaustive in any case. The four possible answers provided are intended to capture the main, common typologies of business pages: - Companies: since companies are more and more present on Facebook, we wanted to investigate whether this effort and the ubiquitous “mantra” yelled at companies that “you have to be on Facebook!” were actually getting some positive results, at least prompting users to become fans of the pages. To see that 68.0% of respondents are indeed fans of at least one business page means that companies’ presence on Facebook is, at the very least, no longer going unnoticed - Celebrities and VIPs: the whole concept of being a “fan” was essentially born with the emergence of VIPs and celebrities; to be a fan of a music band, an actor or a politician is something that existed well before Facebook. It was interesting to see if and how much of this phenomenon had transferred into the social network. Even in this case, the percentage of respondents, 62.5%, is quite high - NGOs and NPOs: since opening a page is cost-free Facebook is, arguably, one of the best ways for non-profit organisations and other NGOs to draw attention to and raise interest in their activities. Two different kinds of pages should actually be considered to exist in this category: o NGO e NPO institutional pages o Pages created by users supporting social causes and initiatives. An increasing number of people are indeed meeting thanks to Facebook, in order to support organisations, institutions and social causes that are born inside the social network and later come out from the virtual space as real, concrete actions. Examples of this can be found in recent events in which Facebook played a key role in their diffusion and success, such as “Los indignatos” in Spain, or the referendum-supporting campaign in Italy. 12/26
  • 13. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? - Public institutions: public administrations are nowadays starting to use more and more social networks. Therefore it was interesting to see how many users are starting to interact with them through their Facebook pages, just as with private companies. Our survey showed that more than one out of three Facebook users is a fan of a public institution’s page. In this regard, it is also worth noting that public administrations are beginning to use social media not only to communicate and interact with citizens, but also to provide them with services. Q: How many pages are you a fan of on Facebook? More than 50% of those interviewed are fans of a limited number of pages, 1 to 10: this may be due to the fact that most connections between the user and the company/organisation are consciously selected and sought out. The first pages users click “I like” on are likely to be pages that really are of interest to the user, and that they really wish to be mentioned on their profile page; later on, it is likely that the user begins to follow a growing number of pages for a variety of different reasons (see also the next question’s results): a friend asking them to become fan, a page they find funny or amusing, a click on an ad they find somewhere online … a behaviour far less “active” and much more “reactive” to external input. 13/26
  • 14. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: How did you find out about the pages you are now following on Facebook? The viral effect of being a fan is clearly visible: almost 75% of respondents became a fan of a page following suggestions from friends, who were already fans. To this must be added an additional 30.8% word of mouth, which is greatly amplified in social contexts (for example by simply hitting the share button). The Facebook internal search engine appears to be important, too (43%). This indicates the importance of the correct choice of name for a business page, since it can strongly influence its traceability for better or worse in terms of users’ search engine results. 36% of respondents claimed to have learned about a business page from the company/institution’s official website: this confirms the importance of including in a website a link to the company’s Facebook page 12 (there are several ways to do this, for example with the badges created by Facebook itself or with one of the many widgets available online). Other options, such as traditional search engines, newsletters, online and offline advertising, seem to be less important in letting people know about Facebook business pages. However, traditional advertising (particularly television and magazines) increasingly incorporates links or icons referring to a Facebook page: a sign, probably, of a growing integration between the different communication channels and of a marketing strategy that more and more often includes web 2.0 tools. 12 On the integration between company website and social tools, see for example: http://mooltoweb.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/integrare-sito-web-aziendale-e-social-media/ 14/26
  • 15. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: For what reasons did you become a fan of the pages you follow on Facebook? The most important reason for a user to click “I like” on a page is, as might be expected, his or her hobbies and personal interests, followed by the desire to receive information quickly on initiatives, news, events, etc. Almost 50% of those interviewed claimed to be fans of a business page out of professional interest, a result which should be read together with the additional 7.4% who were looking for jobs: these two figures clearly highlight a professional and work-related use of Facebook, besides the obvious ones of recreation and entertainment. More and more, we see job-seeking and Facebook entwining: many search and selection agencies post their job offers on Facebook and the personal profile easily becomes the first “business card” of a candidate … There is an interesting paper on this subject, published by Italian Privacy’s Guarantor, about Social Network risks, which warns users “Do you know that search and selection agencies seek information on candidates through main online search 13 engines?” Furthermore, 16.5% of respondents said that they became fan of a page because they were looking for a direct interaction with a company/institution: a social network can act as a direct communication channel between a company and its customers. This confirms the importance of the pressing invites to companies to start using social media, since there is a fair number of users who seek direct contact with them inside Facebook. Lastly, it is also worth mentioning the 31% of respondents deciding to become fans of a page because of a sense of belonging. From a business point of view, this is important information which demonstrates that not only is it important for a company to be present on Facebook, but also to be able to build and maintain a community, interacting with customers/fans and rewarding them by listening to their suggestions and comments. 13 Italian Privacy’s Guarantor - “Social Network: attenzione agli effetti collaterali” (Social Network, beware of side effects) http://www.garanteprivacy.it/garante/document?ID=1617888 15/26
  • 16. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? As C. Heuer says “Participation is marketing. If you are trying to sell something to the community, and that is your reason for being there, it will be obvious to those people and you will never be as successful as you can be. If you are participating because you really want to contribute to the community, because you really want to share what you know, because you really want to be of service to the community and its members, you will sell to the right people BECAUSE of your sincerity and honesty” 14 . Q: How often should a company/institution/celebrity post on Facebook? One of the important aims in our research was to try to identify the ideal frequency for posting on business pages: is there a maximum number of tolerated (or welcomed) posts? Is it possible to optimise business pages to be popular with fans and to best meet their expectations? 45% of those who answered our survey did not appreciate excessive obtrusiveness: posts should be kept to a maximum of a few every week. 38% asked for at least one post a day, and only 17% appreciated more frequent posts by companies and other page owners. This data is both meaningful and interesting: it indirectly shows that communication in the social network can easily become excessive and annoying (and therefore backfire on the page owner). As we are referring to a very fast-paced way of communicating, the main risk is posting too much, with some possible consequences: - Irritating users, and therefore facing the risk of users quitting the page because he or she feels their homepage is being “invaded” by the company’s posts (see later on). - Giving the posts a “routine” image, with the effect that they are not considered anymore, they pass unnoticed, and therefore lose any communication value. - Giving the post a very short life: when several posts are published, the older ones quickly scroll down and completely lose their visibility on the page. 14 Chris Heuer – cited in "Il marketing nel Social Web" (“The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web”) by Tamar Weinberg 16/26
  • 17. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: Have you ever posted on the pages you follow? The interaction originating on the page is one of the key elements that must be monitored if we are to understand whether the page is actually working: not the one-way communication brought by the posts inserted only by the page owner, but the cross talk made up of fans’ comments and of conversations started by users. This question, along with the two questions following, was designed to reveal whether users and fans of pages interact on these pages and how. More than 75% claimed to have participated in a page’s life by sending posts, comments, requests and/or by clicking on the “I like” under the posts. Only 23% never took an active role on the page and just read what was already posted; 1% said they could not interact because fans’ posts on the page were blocked. To decide to block fans’ posts is a difficult and tricky option because it risks appearing unfriendly and reducing the page to a mere company posts’ board: an advertising page. This is not the best (and possibly not the right) use of a social network, whose strength, on the contrary, lies exactly in the possibility of involving users and of establishing a real dialogue with them. However, this opportunity is often considered too dangerous by many companies. 17/26
  • 18. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: If you have, what kind of posts did you insert? To those who claimed, in the previous question, to have actively participated in business pages, we asked them to specify the level of this participation. Most of them, more than 82%, affirmed to have clicked on “I like”, the famous Facebook “thumb up”, which represents the lowest and easiest interaction level. More than half of the respondents (53%) also inserted messages (comments, posts, suggestions, etc) and 14.5% said they made requests. A peculiar result (and a good omen) is that only 3% posted complaints or criticisms on business pages: complaints are usually indicated by companies as the main deterrent to their establishing a presence on social networks. The overall answer pattern in this question precisely reflects the typical development of the relationship between users and business pages. The first step, the first action sought from the fan, is the “I like” click: a very quick and easy action that does not expose the user (he is not expressing an opinion, not making any request), but still indicates his willingness to show his appreciation for the page and the company/institution behind it. The following step is for the user to place comments and posts: thus the page stops being a company board and shifts to being a dialogue with the customer. At the same time the company can obtain useful information and tips for its activity and communication strategy. 18/26
  • 19. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: Have you ever “done” something as a result of a post on the pages you follow on Facebook? A further step is to prompt the user to do something outside the page: clicking “I like” and inserting a post are actions that remain inside the page. 24.3% of respondents said that they did not do anything as a result of the posts they found on the pages they are fans of. On the contrary, 60% has shared with their network the information found on the pages, and 37% has talked about it online with their contacts outside Facebook. Business pages convinced 32.7% to participate in an event/seminar, and 5.7% to buy a product or service. 15.8% asked for further information about something read on the page. As with the previous question, the “normal” evolution of the relationship of user/page can be outlined. 19/26
  • 20. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? The first “active” behaviour is the re-sharing of the contents found on the page on one’s profile wall, in the same way as a user normally does with videos, photos or other content published on friends’ ‘walls’. This is a simple commitment for the user, all things considered: the whole structure of Facebook and of its pages already drives the user to share content, for example through the “share” button present below each post: The following steps require from the user a stronger engagement or commitment that requires going out of Facebook: to ask for information, talk about what was read, participate in an event … even to buy a service/product (which fundamentally is the real goal of any company’s communication activity). However, even without considering the final purchasing stage, already sharing information, talking about page content, and asking for further information create an important amplification effect of all company communication, and, better still, without any additional costs for the company. 20/26
  • 21. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: What would you expect to find on business pages on Facebook that is, instead, missing? This question completes the previous one. Are the published contents sufficient? Did they convince you? Did they meet your expectations? Or is something missing: could the page be improved, enriched, completed? First of all, it is interesting to note how fans’ expectations regarding these pages are mainly related to initiatives specifically reserved for them. More than 43% would like initiatives for fans only, which emphasises the sense of belonging to a fan group, but also the expectations to obtain something tangible as a reward for being a fan and for “tying” one’s name to that of the company. Another significant element is the 34.8% of respondents asking page owners to listen more attentively to the requests and the suggestions posted by users on the page … probably because this attention is actually missing: social networks are, by nature, based on interaction between users and with them, but this interaction is often undervalued, if not intentionally avoided. Along the same lines, we can include the 23.4% expecting feedback to the complaints posted on the page and the 26% who would appreciate post-sale help and assistance: both these results are hints that companies need to better manage interaction with their fans and the growing expectations of social networks’ users. 24.1% is satisfied with the pages’ content: this is obviously very good from a company communication’s point of view. Explanations for this answer can be fundamentally either: the company/institution is indeed good at managing its social spaces, or the users do not have high expectations from business pages in Facebook ... 21/26
  • 22. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Q: What may cause you to stop following a page on Facebook? The most common mistake made by business page owners seems to be the excessive number of posts published on the page: almost 65% of those interviewed indicated this as the main reason for quitting a page. Of great significance is also the annoyance at repeated messages, which prompts almost 42% to leave the page. On the other hand, too few posts do not seem to have the same impact on users’ opinions: only 10.5% indicated this as displeasing. 49.6% do not like “too commercial” posts, 21.2% too long posts, and 40.1% are particularly irritated by not useful and uninteresting posts. Another element emerging from this question is the attention given to the company’s external behaviour: 25.8% of respondents said they would leave a page if they did not approve of a company/institution/celebrity’s actions. Here the e-reputation topic arises and, with it, the need for companies, institutions, and celebrities to correctly monitor social media. Lastly, 19% quit a page when they were following too many and therefore needed to cull them: as already mentioned, when discussing the number of pages a person is a fan of, the first pages chosen are probably those the user cares most about and thus are a result of a more reasoned and “want-based” decision, whereas, when the number of these pages grows, the click on “I like” becomes less meditated and more instinctive (a friend asking to become fan, a funny page, an event such as a concert or a protest). When the homepage becomes too regularly full of posts from business pages and thus overwhelming those published by friends, the user decides to “unlike” a page (thus automatically stopping any posts being received on their homepage), choosing between the least relevant or the most invasive ones. 22/26
  • 23. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Conclusions Facebook nowadays provides companies with a potential audience of more than 700 millions users, of which more than 19 million are in Italy alone: it has become an invaluable and inescapable tool and element of business communication. Looking at the user’s point of view (which, again, was the goal of our research), the following are, in our opinion, the main points that emerged from this survey: - Facebook access is a daily routine, with several connections being made throughout the day; - the main reason for a person joining Facebook is the social factor: to remain in contact with everyday friends or with persons living far away; - more than 8 out of 10 users are fans of at least one business page on Facebook, therefore the presence of companies, institutions, and celebrities on Facebook is nowadays considered normal and is not opposed by users, provided that page owners do not post an excessive number of messages or become too repetitive or overtly promotional in their content; - word of mouth and sharing are the main means via which a page is promoted and attracts new users to it. Of course, a user shares the page content with his contacts only when he finds something worth sharing (see later on); - for users, pages are a way to stay informed and up-to-date; however, dedicated content for fans only is also expected; - users are well aware that they can choose what to follow and have a clear idea of the type of content they do not want: o they do not want only advertising messages o they do not want too many posts o they do not want repeated messages - page interaction is becoming more and more common: at first through the simple “I like” click, and later through a dialogue with the page, via posting messages, comments, requests etc. - a well-managed business page can be really effective and can engage users and convince them to actively: o share its contents with other users on Facebook o talk about the page and the company outside Facebook o buy a product/service or support a cause With due attention and regard for its users, Facebook business pages can become a powerful and effective communication tool for companies, institutions, and organisations. The crucial point is how the communication is conducted, namely, in the right way: it must be able to involve and engage the user, acknowledge him or her for associating their name with the page, and credit them with intelligence and value, which, in turn, requires creating direct and transparent dialogues and avoiding exceedingly promotional or excessive messages. In this sense, the project “Nel Mulino che vorrei” (The mill I wish) presented by Barilla during a workshop at Fondazione CUOA in May 2010 is particularly revealing. In its introduction it states “This project does not speak, it listens - This project does not tell, it creates – This project does 15 not teach, it learns” 15 Taken from “Nel Mulino che vorrei” – slides by S. Sartori (Barilla) http://www.slideshare.net/fondazionecuoa/nel-mulino-che-vorrei-4002791 23/26
  • 24. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? The surplus value that a social network such as Facebook offers business to communication is clearly acquired by listening to the customer, in a two-way interaction. What users are asking for is to be able to express their opinions in a peer-to-peer relationship with the company or the institution they are fans of: for the business page owner that means learning to quit self-referencing and shift the focus to the wants and needs of the customer or, in this case, user. 24/26
  • 25. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? About the authors Fondazione CUOA Fifty years of history, strongly rooted in the North-East of Italy, the area boasting several entrepreneurs and managers of excellence. Fondazione CUOA is the reference point, both national and international, for entrepreneurial and managerial training: a privileged environment where personal aspirations and individual skills meet and grow. CUOA's offer - made of MBAs, masters and executive and custom courses - provides concrete and immediate answers and is able to take persons, companies and institutions to success through new organizational, managerial and business models. A prestigious 18th century villa is the ideal setting for its activities and for everyone willing to invest in professional growth. Lorenzo Amadei and Claudia Zarabara Lorenzo Amadei and Claudia Zarabara have been collaborating with Fondazione CUOA for many years, focusing on new technologies and their applications in business contexts. In recent years they concentrated on social media and web 2.0 themes, managing social media marketing for Fondazione CUOA and other business companies. This is the second survey they developed on the use of social networks. Licence Copyright Fondazione CUOA. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons “Attribution – Non Commercial – No Derivs 3.0 Unported License” (see http://creativecommons.org/) This report is the exclusive property of Fondazione CUOA. You are free to distribute it, promote it, share it, so long as you cite the original source and authors. This report may not be transformed, altered or sold. 25/26
  • 26. What do Users Want from Business Pages in Facebook? Fondazione CUOA Villa Valmarana Morosini 36077 Altavilla Vicentina (VI) - ITALY tel. + 39 0444 333711 Lorenzo Amadei – lamadei@cuoa.it Claudia Zarabara – czarabara@cuoa.it www.cuoa.it