True Fans

foam number one fingers

When it comes to social media, some businesses think of Facebook fans differently than the traditional fan we’re accustomed to and, because of this, it changes both the company’s approach to fan building as well as fan value. I think the best way to define a social media fan is just like we do in real life. Think of the definition of fans as it pertains to a sports fan, and since I live in Chicagoland, we’ll use the Chicago Cubs as a great example.

So how would we define a Cubs fan? A Cubs fan wants to follow the Cubs, because they like the team (even when they lose). They want to watch their team play. If you saw someone at Wrigley Field playing a game on their phone instead of watching the game, would you consider them a fan? I don’t think so. A true fan is not playing games on their phone, or vying to win a prize, but there to watch their team play. It’s a relationship of sorts. Cubs fans have emotional tie-in to the team that results in more than a short term following, many Cubs fans are lifelong fans. So if we use this as our ideal definition of a fan, this is what to shoot for in social media.

When a dealer thinks about their social media fan building efforts, they should be focusing on building true quality fans, like a Cubs fan. Unfortunately, as with many other forms of online marketing, there are ways to cheat the system. Some dealers are not interested in building true fans, but just want to see a high fan count on their Facebook page. These numbers are easily generated, but they are not true fans. We will call these “pretend fans”.

These pretend fans say they like you, but they are not really a fan of your business at all. They have no interest in watching you play and they could care less whether you win or lose. They are on your site or Facebook page for other reasons, such as to play a game, or win a prize. Basically they are there for their own enjoyment separate and distinct from your business and your identity. Because these are not true fans, they are also not true prospects. Since they have no desire to be in any sort of relationship with you, they are not any more likely a prospect than other unknown consumers in your community, maybe even less so since many are not in your market.

On the other hand, a true fan is a fan, because they are interested in what you have to say. Since they are interested in you, they’re likely to read the content that you post about your dealership and are more likely to read the specials and share this information with their friends. In other words, true fans are true prospects. They will promote your business and potentially buy from you. One hundred true fans are worth so much more than 100,000 pretend fans.

There are things you can do to try and build true fans versus pretend fans.

  1. First and foremost, don’t offer incentives to be a fan and nothing else (read, iPad giveaway). Instead offer automotive-related incentives (how about a $10 oil change), that only appeals to people A) in your market, and B) that would consider purchasing from you, or at least visiting your dealership.
  2. Second, when posting content, the majority of your content should be either automotive-related or related to your community. Funny photos do not target true fans.
  3. Third, some people criticize posting service promotions, but if you have a fan that is offended by an occasional promotional offer (that saves them money) and never wants to see one from you again, does it sound like they would ever become a customer? As long as your promotions don’t exceed 20 percent of your posts you should be fine, keep the other 80 percent of your content in the informational/educational/entertainment categories.

If you are struggling to show ROI in your social media efforts, look at your fans on Facebook and ask yourself how you acquired them. Were they bribed or earned?

Brent Albrecht is the Director of Marketing at SOCIALDEALER, Follow on Twitter @SOCIALDEALER or email

Cody Larson


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