Facebook fans as intellectual property

During a recent online conversation, there was a discussion regarding the actual dollar value of a “fan” or “like” received on a company’s Facebook page. While I sat and thought about it, a term from a bygone accounting class hit me: goodwill.

For those unfamiliar, the term “goodwill” as it pertains to a brand means the value of the organization above and beyond the value of its stated assets. It’s the reputation of a company that supplements both the current block of business and the bricks and mortar that make up the organization.

This is also sometimes known as part of “intellectual property,” and it’s a part of the organization which stays transparent, sometimes even until the organization is sold. You can’t necessarily see it, but every employee can certainly feel the reputation of the organization and know that it has value.

Retaining that point and applying this to Facebook page fans: Since there is not yet a financial way to judge the value of fans, instead organizations should consider them to be part of goodwill. A smart, engaging Facebook presence for an organization along with a large, diverse fan base should be as much a part of an organization’s marketing plan as the organization’s website or blog.

For startups, a well-designed page with a loyal group of fans may be the only reputation they can afford. Careful planning of the page, reaching potential fans where they live, and encouraging them to like your page builds a following. That following contributes to an organization’s reputation, which contributes to its intellectual property value, which contributes to its goodwill.

Seen through this lens, Facebook fans may not have a dollar value, but they are far from without value.

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