Your brand has fans, you've got 5 000 Facebook ‘likes’. Congratulations. But what does it mean? Research company Milward Brown, along with Dynamic Logic and the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) have tried to find out exactly what people around the world gain by becoming fans of brands, what global marketers expect from social media and what drives most value for both groups.

The report identifies the perceived value that social media delivers for marketers. Of the participating WFA members, 85% regard fan pages as a means of securing additional insight and increasing loyalty, while 80% cited the opportunity to increase advocacy. Of those participating WFA members, 96% are spending more in this area and 27% are finding that running fan pages takes more time and money than anticipated.

Despite increased time and money being invested, 50% of the WFA members who participated were unsure of their return on investment, 23% thought they were getting a good return but 27% regarded payback as just average or poor.

Value of a Fanis based on interviews with 24 multinationals in WFA membership and online questionnaires with 3,687 of their fans. The fan pages selected included brands from the confectionery, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, personal care and telecommunications sectors. Although some pages were global, others were specifically targeted at consumers in Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, the UK or the US.

Value of a Fan suggests that successful pages deepen both brand equity and engagement. The research notes that the pages generating the strongest brand response were not necessarily those with the largest number of fans.

“Fan expectation of brands in the social media space is increasing all the time and Value of a Fan seems to demonstrate that marketers only get out what they put in,” says Millward Brown global innovation director Duncan Southgate. “Marketers that don’t regularly add new and interesting content to their fan pages and embrace what their fans want from the page are missing out on an opportunity to build loyalty among some of their most important consumers.”