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Wildfire, the social media marketing company Google unexpectedly acquired last week, has just released a big ol’ body of research dealing with the finer points of fandom — online fans for big brands, that is.

Given Wildfire’s longtime specialization in Facebook, it makes sense that the entirety of the study deals with Facebook marketing campaigns — 10,000 of them, to be precise.

Wildfire’s study used the aforementioned 10,000 Facebook campaigns as a starting point, distilling the data set to the top 1,000 campaigns, which came from a total of 700 brands. Data was gathered over a nine-month period, and it proves a dictum we’ve all heard since our tenderest years: Sharing is caring. That is, your brand’s advocates are incredibly powerful and valuable.

Let’s quantify that assertion a bit. Brand advocacy (following and sharing items of interest from brands you like) has a significant impact on marketing efforts, the study showed, from generating earned media to getting others interested and engaged.

The Wildfire data demonstrated that:

  • for every advocate or sharer, an average of 14 earned media impressions were generated.
  • brands that are good at grooming sharers/advocates see triple the engagement on Facebook.
  • on average, each advocate will bring 1.3 entirely new people to the brand’s page.
  • tripling the number of advocates leads to 13x growth in the number of page fans.

“This data clearly shows that brands need to be focused on nurturing their most active fans, particularly their brand advocates,” said Wildfire CEO and founder Victoria Ransom in a statement on the research.

“Brands should give users a variety of ways to engage with them — and several options for what to do when they get there — to increase time spent on the page as well as return activity. Brands should also give users specific instructions about what to do to engage. For example, if you want someone to ‘Like’ your post, it helps to directly ask for it.”

Wildfire will host a webinar on brand advoacy and other results from this study on August 8, 2012 at 10 a.m. Pacific. The webinar is free, and you can register to attend online.

While this study is Facebook-centric, Wildfire also allows brands to manage campaigns across a slew of social media networks, including Twitter and Google+. And although Google now owns the marketing company, both parties have made explicit promises to keep the product open to a multitude of platforms and networks. Eventually, Google will likely weave Wildfire into an even more comprehensive marketing platform, one that encompasses all online marketing/CRM efforts, not just social media.

Top image based on a photo from Blend Images, Shutterstock


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