What’s a Facebook Fan worth to your business? That’s the million dollar, if not billion dollar, question for many businesses. Companies like Starbucks, Southwest and Bing have Fans that number well above 1 million. While your medical practice likely has much less than 1% of the total Fans these large companies have, the question is just as valuable.

We view a Fan similarly to a person who opts-in to your email marketing campaign or newsletter. They have willingly given you the opportunity to market to them. However, unlike email marketing campaigns, which if successful, have 15-20% open rates, Facebook messages can potentially be seen by all Fans. I know what you’re thinking though, that still doesn’t answer the question of what they’re worth. I’m getting there…

As I mentioned, your Facebook messages have the potential to be seen by all Fans. However, in order for your Fans to see your message in their news feed it has to be published right before they login. It’s impossible to predict the best time of day to post messages, especially as your Fan base grows. Therefore, don’t worry about the exact right hour to post your update. Instead, focus on the message itself. Is it engaging? Will people reply to your emssage or “like” it, even if only a small percentage see it?

The reason the message itself is so important is because it’s not about how many Fans you have; it’s about how many friends each of your Fans have. If you have say 1,000 Fans and everyone sees your message, but no one replies, comments or “likes” the message you haven’t reached anyone new. However, if only 2% (20 Fans) see your message & comment on it, and each of them has 200 Friends, then you’ve now reached 4,000 people. What’s best is that you did nothing and spent nothing to market to them. Your Fans are doing it for you!

So what’s the answer to the question what’s a Fan worth? The answer is: A Fan is worth the sum of his or her friends.

Consider this example of Starbucks: this mega-brand was able to reach 8% of all US internet users in May through unpaid posts, and the majority are not even Fans! How? While only a small percentage (about 3% of all US Internet users) of their 24 million Fans were online or paying attention when Starbucks posted messages. However, the “likes” or comments made by these Fans made Starbucks visible to these Fans’ friends (which account for an additional 5% of all Internet users).

Here are the main take-aways from this article for your practice:

1) How much is a Fan worth? A Fan is worth the sum of his or her friends.

2) It’s not so much about the time of day your post your message, but how engaging it is in order to get comments and “likes.”

3) It’s all about reaching out to new people. Your message becomes that much more valuable when there are new eyes seeing it for the first time.