Cost Per Fan Standard? Stop it.

A PSA to business owners: If you are thinking about working with an agency to help you with social media and they tell you a relevant Facebook Page like is $1.25, please ask them to leave.

They are full of shit. I should just be able to stop here but with so much misinformation floating around from social media “experts and gurus,” this needs further explanation.

Cost per fan is all relative to your business. Not your neighbors business. Not even someone in your same industry. You have a unique product or service that differentiates you from everyone else and guess what? Your cost per fan shares those same unique characteristics.

Most creative and social agencies view the FB fan like as a one dimensional click. That’s like summarizing Mad Men down to Don Draper creating “I’d like to buy the world a coke” ad. There’s way more to the story than the final scene.


Jon Hamm as Don Draper – Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMC

A Facebook fan has a backstory on how they reached you and a continuing narrative. We can break this down to audience circles. Each circle represents an audience and the cost per fan from those audiences will vary based on what your business does. Some are more relevant than others but that all depends on your business. Are they becoming fans pre sale, post sale, from retargeting, or from an email custom audience? We’re going to look at different audience circles and how CPF can vary based on the business and where the fan is coming from.

graph-of-fansInterest Targeting

In the far outside edges of the stratosphere, you have interest targeting. You can easily do this on Facebook by clicking the big shiny button on your fan page that says, “Promote Page!” Please, don’t ever do that unless you like wasting money. Interest targeting contains groups of people like, “middle age, single women, loves cats, vegan gluten free brownies, and Harry Potter.” My guess is that will contain a lot of irrelevant fans unless that’s your niche. And apologies if you are the person described above….from our sources, you’re definitely not alone!


Fan relevancy at interest targeting is tough to track because it’s based off of who you think your fans are. At this stage, they have not shown any signs they are qualified leads. You could get fans by targeting brands with specific interests at under $.10 CPF (see below image) but you’ll never know if those fans will actually buy your product unless you toss a conversion ad in front of them. Is $.08 CPF good? The CPF doesn’t matter. Who you’re targeting does. Related, the fans in the image described below are actively converting to paying customers between $1.11 and $3.25 per conversion. Is that a good Cost per Conversion? Again, that all depends on what you’re selling. If I’m a custom yacht manufacturer, you bet it is!



A Lookalike is a custom audience based from a website custom audience (WCA), email custom audience or even app users. Facebook essentially goes out and finds people most similar to the original audience. These are individuals most similar to ones that have already visited your website, downloaded your app, or subscribed to your newsletter. Since these people don’t know about you, how can you give a standard for cost per fan? You really can’t. A lookalike fan coming from an app custom audience might cost 3x more than a WCA lookalike but converts at twice the rate.


Email Custom Audiences

An email custom audience is a group of people who have given you their email address and it just so happens to be listed on their Facebook. Marketers rejoice at an 80% match rate! What is the cost per fan for an email address? I’ll say it again. It does not matter. For example: below are subscribers to a newsletter of a restaurant. We email them coupon codes to use in store. They’re already customers. They’ve already purchased from us. We want them to be active on Facebook because they have shown they are strong brand ambassadors. But what if it’s emails that you acquired from a free sample giveaway. How relevant do you think those fans will be? They might convert to a fan at a low price but will you be able to convert them? You can’t set a standard price per fan because there are so many variable that are specific to your differentiated business.


Website Retargeting:

Retargeting people that have been to your website or specific pages of your website is one of my favorite things to do. These are people who are interested in what you have to say or the product you are selling. What is the cost per fan here? I’m sure you can guess by now that it doesn’t matter. It’s all relative to the persona and behaviors (website clicks/actions) of the people who have been to your site. The below image is an example of retargeting all visitors that hit a website. The CPF will vary if you are a handmade baggage company selling to C-Suite, executive, business traveling men or you own a real estate business. So the cost per fan is relative to what your business does, the persona of the group you are targeting and what specific pages they were interested in on the website.


By now I hope you can see a difference in CPF for all different audience circles. Claiming $1.25 for relevant fans is absurd. All of the examples above are of people that are buying a product and not one of them is remotely close to $1.25 CPF but they still vary depending on where the fan came from. Moral to the story, stop setting false benchmarks for your brand. It’s up to you to calculate relevant CPF.

And for crying out loud marketers, stop telling people what the average cost per fan should be if you’ve never ran an ad for that brand.