A fan is characterized by a special relationship with a brand, product, thing or person. That is no different in social media. A fan is interested in brands, products or services as well as communities, interest groups or well-known public persons.

However, in social networks a fan is also determined by how he interacts with the followed object. This can be done through fan pages, liking a certain brand or through communication in groups, forums and blogs. Social media fans are users and at the same time important influencing factors for online marketing, especially if they (as influencers) pass advice and recommendations to other users and thus contribute to making brands, products or services known.

Practical relevance[edit]

The concept of social media is based on users interacting in some way. This often happens with a click on the Like button of a Facebook Page, the Follow button on Twitter or +1 at Google Plus. Whether fan, follower or influencer, the key factor is a form of interaction by which agreement is indicated. If special social media profiles have a lot of fans, it is considered a fan base, in other words a solid group, which maintains a special relationship with these pages.

The number of fans is a measure of the size of the fan base. Marketers should however refrain from buying fans, i.e. spending money on a certain number of fans because Facebook and Co. can evaluate these purchased Likes by sorting them by region. It would seem rather dubious if many of the fans for a German Facebook profile come from the United States, for example. Furthermore, a sharp increase of Likes will be noticed by Facebook. A legitimate method to collect fans would be a competition, called gamification. Potential customers are given an incentive to participate and to become a fan.

Often, participation in such competitions is subject to certain conditions. For example, pressing the Like button or sharing a post. The more content is shared, the more they spread and produce coverage. The number of shares is indicative of viral content. For example, sharing of memes is very popular. Other ways to collect fans can be call-to-action elements on your website, in newsletters or generally in business emails. In such and also in competitions, the policies of the respective social network must be observed, because the integration of source code and images must comply with the rules of the network.

Importance for SEO[edit]

One characteristic of social media is the interaction between brand and user. At least since 2010, when Google first used social signals as a ranking factor, interactions between users and brands are regarded as an indicator of a certain user interest or the virality of the content.[1]

Nevertheless, Matt Cutts was backpedaling in 2014, by saying that Facebook Likes or Twitter followers are not used to determine the SERPs.[2]

But user interaction is likely still in first place when it comes to the controversial topic of social signals. Perhaps Google doesn’t really know themselves exactly which social signals should be used as ranking factors and which shouldn’t. One can at least make assumptions based on various test phases of individual ranking factors such as Likes, shares or comments. The fact is that social media is an important tool for online marketing, but even more important for long-term customer relationships because over 40 million Internet users are active in social networks on a daily basis in Germany alone. And also the presence on social networks is considered an important signal for search engines. Even if these signals are not considered as ranking factor, they are at least an indication of a certain level of activity in the network.

The more user engagement, the more likely it will be positively noted by search engines. Ultimately, many fans of social profiles also generate more traffic and possibly a higher conversion rate, because if a fan maintains a positive relationship with a brand, product or service, increased ROI values often result.


  1. Matt Cutts, Social Signals, Author Authority, Ranking Factors & Google Realtime. Accessed on 03/11/2014
  2. Matt Cutts: Facebook, Twitter Social Signals Not Part of Google Search Ranking Algorithms. Accessed on 03/11/2014