Facebook Pages by the Numbers

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Earlier this week I added a link to our MCLE Facebook Page and wanted to give props to the author by linking the update to his Page. I sent a tweet asking if he had one. He didn’t and asked if he should. My reply? A somewhat dismissive, “Facebook Page does bring traffic to site and provide forum for discussion. But I’m not a total evangelist…yet.”

There are tons of surveys and studies about the ROI and effectiveness of Facebook Pages (they do go on) but although Facebook makes it annoyingly difficult to retrieve and compile statistics, I decided to gather some of my own numbers and experiences from the past three months.

How much time does it take?

Setting up a Facebook Page takes a couple of hours. I spend an hour per month at most editing the page and doing administrative clean-up.

We had 94 status updates over the past three months which included mostly links to CLE related articles and all of our blog posts. That averages out to one update a day which takes as much time as a status update on a personal Facebook account — less than a minute.

Generates website traffic

Facebook.com was the number one referring site to our blog over the past three months. More than twitter.com, and linkedin.com combined (These numbers do not take into account traffic from mobile applications). This, with only 158 Facebook fans contrasted with over 1,700 followers on Twitter and around 250 connections on LinkedIn.

Intimate forum engenders community and loyalty

Facebook offers a more personal rather than business environment. Sure, anyone can “like” a Facebook Page but only via a personal account, making it arguably, more of a commitment than simply following a Twitter account.

Although it’s all about the numbers in social media — followers, likes, hits — it goes on forever, I prefer a smaller number if it means a more relevant, interested and involved community. I’ve actually told friends that it’s OK to “unlike” my continuing legal education page after I got the requisite number of fans (25) to get a custom URL.

Our Facebook Page received more than twice the number of comments than the blog over the past three months. The platform facilitates loyalty as many come back again and again to add their voice.

Acknowledging that some of the administrative functions can be maddeningly unintuitive, perhaps I should evangelize about using a Facebook Page. The numbers bear witness.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/4157139157/)

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  • Who was that poor, benighted Luddite? :)

    Really good information here! Thanks.

    • Tim Baran

      Luddite, you’re not, Jay, but thanks for the inspiration for this post :-)

      Like any other social media platform, there are few hard and fast rules, but a few practices do resonate across the board. Figured the only way I could truly advocate is to share my own experience.

      • That’s what makes this a great post. Practical, useful and actionable guidance based on direct personal experience.

  • Excellent post Tim! Its encouraging to read your figures about Facebook being the number one referring link. Facebook definitely encourages discussions if used correctly. You are doing a great job. Keep it up!

    • Tim Baran

      Thanks, Samantha, I really appreciate your kind words. I should probably add a caveat that my perspective is based on devoting a minimum of investment re: time and resources in a Facebook Page. There’s so much more one can do to maximize a Page but it’s too involved and I’m not ready to make that plunge. Not even sure it’s worth the effort.

  • I have to agree, Facebook Pages create MUCH more loyalty than Twitter.

    • Tim Baran

      Thanks for feedback, Jenna. May have something to do with the more personal Facebook environment…and significantly reduced noise.

  • I set up a Facebook fan page for my blog, but am finding that its much easier to drive traffic by just posting through my personal page through dlvr.it. I realized that at this point all of my “fans” are also my personal fans. I’m still keeping the Fan Page up and trying to actively manage it. Hopefully someday I can have genuine traffic from the fan site as well. Just a thought for others in similar situations.

    My only caveat, be careful with what you’re posting about and how your blog is set up from a professional responsibility standpoint and making sure you’re not potentially crossing the line in “offering services.” See interesting article from Kentucky here: http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2010/11/law_kentucky_ba_1.html

    • Tim Baran

      Thanks for sharing, Amanda. I prefer not to use third party apps to cross-post on separate accounts or platforms. It may take a bit more time, but audience varies along with level and type of engagement depending on the medium. It can often mean the difference in having an effective Facebook Page.

      Good point about ethical considerations re: lawyer advertising on Facebook — perhaps a topic for another post.

  • Pat Stoneking

    OK, I’ll bite here. The topic of law firm/lawyer facebook pages came up in a legalchat last month. After everybody agreed that a facebook page is absolutely necessary for good legal marketing, I asked if anyone could point me to any law firm that is using facebook well. The silence was deafening.

    If anyone out there has created a good law firm approach to facebook, I would love to here about it.

    • Pat Stoneking

      Not only do I wish I knew about more about facebook, but I also wish I had the ability to edit my posts for embarrassing spelling errors.

    • Yeah, I don’t agree with the crowd. I don’t even have a firm Facebook page.

      • @ Pat. I also wish I could edit Lawyerist comments for embarrassing spelling and grammar errors! I noticed three or four lazy things in my previous comment.

        @Tim and Sam. I was actually at the MinnCLE on Social Networking that Sam was proffing when I read about the Kentucky Derby solicitation story (multitasking and paying attention of course). I didn’t get a chance to pass it on at the time. I think it would be a good idea for another post. I’ve only come across that one article. It’s interesting to consider what might cross the line.

    • The notion that Facebook is “absolutely necessary for good legal marketing” is pernicious because right now it is a tactic in search of a business benefit. Firms would be better served optimizing their content development and distribution effectiveness on existing platforms like websites and blogs before venturing into uncharted Facebook waters.

      As you noted, there are not many use cases in legal marketing — let alone compelling, replicatable ones. On that count alone Facebook does not warrant a “mandatory” status in legal marketing.

      I strongly endorse Tim’s approach, which echoes Six Sigma DMAIC principles: design, measure, analyze, improve, control.

      As far as current campaigns to watch, check out what English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, a law firm in Bowling Green, Ky., is doing with their Facebook page.

      http://www.facebook.com/ELPOLaw?v=app_4949752878

      For every new person who “likes” their page, the firm will donate $1 to American Cancer Society Relay For Life (up to a maximum amount, I assume).

      • Tim Baran

        Thanks for the props, Jay. And, holy cow, we commented at exactly the same time echoing each other’s sentiment about these practices being useful but often not absolutely necessary. It’s my approach to many processes. I do think it’s good to at least be in the game and test the waters.

    • Tim Baran

      Pat, I definitely don’t subscribe to the notion that a Facebook Page is absolutely necessary. Very few things are, and certainly not emerging and still developing mediums like social media. I think it’s useful and may become somewhat necessary, but still many issues to consider, especially for lawyers.

      Check out Facebook for law firms by Jordan Furlong for an overview.

      JD Supra also has a listing of Lawyers and Law Firms on Facebook

  • @Tim great info.

    Like others above, if you’re relying on Facebook to drive clients, how does that saying go, “I’ve got a bridge to sell you”.

    • Tim Baran

      Thanks, Gyi! I’ve gotten clients directly from Twitter, and Facebook does help build relationships and a trust factor, so a long term plan may help bring clients – at least peripherally. But yeah, it’s a hard sell if only trying to quickly drive clients.