Are Facebook Fan Pages Working for Wireless Carriers?

Compete recently reported that Facebook.com moved up the rankings into the #2 most popular site in the U.S, surpassing Yahoo.com.  With Facebook continuing to grow, the importance of social networking sites to companies is higher than ever.  As we have discovered previously, the percentage of wireless shoppers also visiting Facebook.com has increased dramatically over the past year, which means wireless carriers have a huge opportunity to reach their current and potential customers using Facebook.

Over the past year, the Big 4 wireless carriers have begun to embace Facebook as a marketing tool by creating fan pages.  These pages act as a company profile page, allowing users to post on their wall and explore the different content on the page including photos, company events, and special offers.  But it’s important to investigate how engaged people are on these fan pages, and whether they can drive traffic to the carrier’s website.

The traffic to these fan pages has increased in the past few months and as we can see, the engagement on the fan pages has been on an upward trend for most carriers as well.

  • The average time per visit for any carrier fan page from December to February was only 36 seconds
  • Both Sprint and Verizon Wireless were able to boost their time per visit above one minute in February
  • T-Mobile, the newest carrier to create a Facebook fan page experienced a decrease in time per session from December through February

While engagement isn’t particularly high for the fan pages, it is on an upward trend for most carriers.  Sprint and Verizon saw a spike in engagement during February when Sprint announced it will sell a 4G phone starting in the summer of 2010 and Verizon announced that Skype would be available on smartphones starting in March.  Users may have looked to fan pages to provide information or answer questions about these announcements.  Looking at engagement on a fan page is helpful, but the only way to increase online sales is to drive people to the carrier sites.  If we take a look at cross visitation rate, the percentage of unique visitors going to a carrier’s fan page who are also visiting the carrier’s website in the same session has increased for most wireless carriers.

  • T-mobile is the only carrier which has seen a decrease in cross visitation rate from December to February
  • Almost 70% of unique visitors going to Sprint’s fan page also went to Sprint’s website in the same session in February 2010.
  • Despite having the most unique visitors going to their fan page from December to February, AT&T had one of the lowest cross visitation rates.

Sprint’s jump in cross visitation could have been due in part to an increase in wall posts Sprint made that included a link to Sprint’s website.  In January, 47% of Sprint’s wall posts included a link to its website, and in February that rate jumped to 82%.  AT&T, on the other hand, included a link to its site in only 17% of its fanpage wall posts.  As for engagement, it seems that users spent the most time on the wall tab of the fan page where they are allowed to post questions and comments.  Carriers could benefit greatly by concentrating their efforts on the wall tab of the fan page to increase both engagement and cross visitation.  Fan pages are yet another potential tool for wireless carriers and it will be interesting to see how these fan pages adapt and evolve to attract customers.