The Difference In Fan and Customer Acquisition

Acquisition has taken on a new, unfortunate meaning in social

by Jason Falls |

The CMO of a large retail brand stood on stage recently, proudly showing off a fan acquisition campaign that had successfully driven tens of thousands more “Likes” on Facebook. A hand went up in the audience. “Those ‘Likes’ are impressive, but how many of your products did you sell as a result?”

The CMO shrugged and said, “Well, that really wasn’t the point of the campaign. It was about acquisition.”

It’s a good thing that CMO was talking to an audience of marketers and not his or her board of directors. If they had been, that would have likely been the last words he or she uttered as CMO of that particular company.

Unfortunately, many marketers hear the word “acquisition,” and have a Pavlovian reaction, assuming as long as they do more of it, everything will be copacetic. Certainly, “acquisition,” was the point of the exercise, but it was fan acquisition, not customer acquisition at play.

These are two very different concepts.

Fan acquisition means doing something to get the attention of users on a social network so they will opt in to your messaging. Customer acquisition is doing something to convince a person to purchase something.

You can’t make payroll with more fans.

The big difference? You can’t make payroll with more fans.

Certainly, more fans gives you a better opportunity to convert them to customers. But far too many marketers see acquiring a fan as acquiring a customer and are losing in the end as a result.

I sat through two Boards of Director’s meetings recently. One for the company I work for. The other for an organization on whose board I sit. The metrics that are discussed the most at the board meetings I have exposure to include:

  • Top-line revenue
  • Bottom-line revenue
  • Cost-per-acquisition
  • Year-over-year growth
  • Revenue projections
  • Cost-per-unit-sold
  • Customer lifetime value

The metrics that are not discussed:

  • Number of fans
  • Number of followers
  • Number of likes
  • Number of comments
  • Number of shares

The marketers of today will not be the marketers of tomorrow until they understand which metrics matter to their organization’s ultimate decision-makers. Even if the decision-makers don’t yet know it, they want the former metrics, not the latter.

Connect those dots and you’ll keep your job. Don’t and good luck finding a new one.


About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).