Readers of this blog know we’re nuts for surveys and studies about social media and its impact on business and marketing. (Actually, readers of this blog know we’re a little nuts, in general.) If this happens to be your first visit, now you know, too.

Today we’re going to tell you about two surveys that appear to be directly contradictory.

The first, (a study that’s just had a birthday, in fact), reported by AdAge, comes from DDB Worldwide and Opinionway Research. They surveyed Facebook “likers” and found that 84% of fans on a typical brand page are existing customers, and came to the conclusion that Facebook is more of a loyalty program than a customer acquisition tool.

Quoting Justin Kistner, social-media products director of WebTrends, they wrote:

“Search is a customer-acquisition tool,” Mr. Kistner said. “Facebook really isn’t.” But while search is largely about people discovering new products and brands, Facebook “is really about staying in touch with the people we know,” whether that be real people or brands and customers, Mr. Kistner said.

Click graph to view full-sized.The second study, reported today at AllFacebook, was conducted in January 2011 by CMB Consumer Pulse and Constant Contact. They surveyed US consumers and found… well… some very different results.

For starters, fewer respondents (58%) who “like” a page say they’re already a customer. Also interesting, in our opinion, is that 51% were more likely to buy a product after liking the brand page.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.But that’s not exactly contradictory… right? Just slightly different.

So, do we have an actual point? (Heh… by now maybe you’re wondering if we know what “contradictory” means. Yes… yes, we do.)

What’s contradictory is the idea that Facebook is nothing more than a loyalty program, as opposed to a customer acquisition tool, in light of one more juicy factoid from the survey.

Click image to view full-sized56 percent of consumers said they are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a fan on Facebook.

There it is again… the Holy Grail of marketing:  Word Of Mouth.

We’ve talked about how social media IS word of mouth here, here, and here. But to really demonstrate how contradictory these two surveys are we’d like to refer you to two more surveys that we shared previously. (Unfortunately, while they do help prove our point, they kinda wreck our title up there. Anyway…)

eMarketer reported on an April 2011 study by ROI Research that found 60% of respondents were at least somewhat likely to take action when a friend mentioned a Click graph to view full-sized.brand or business on social media. Also from eMarketer, a study by Knowledge Networks and MediaPost Communications from May 2011. The survey found that 37% of US social network users trust what their friends and family say about a brand on social media. Another 10% said they trust such info even from total strangers.

Our point? (Yes… we already told you. We do have one.)

There’s nothing wrong with using Facebook as a customer loyalty program, to reward and engage the folks who’ve already given you their business – in fact, it’s a great idea, and one you should be including in your social media efforts.

But… BUT…

Do not overlook the fact that those existing, loyal fans are themselves a major customer acquisition tool!

Click graph to view full-sized.
Your fans are more likely to talk about and recommend you. Their friends and family are more likely to trust what they hear and act on it. By keeping your current fans and customers engaged and satisfied, you are more likely to end up with more of each!

The studies may be contradictory, but you don’t need to decide which is correct when implementing your social media marketing strategy. Customer loyalty program or customer acquisition tool? Social media is BOTH!