The Limits of Facebook

All of this just seems wrong:
According to Ad Age, Colorado's New Belgium Brewing recently commissioned a survey of its Facebook followers in which it determined the average New Belgium Facebook fan spends $260 per year on the brand. That translates to $50.7 million annually — or roughly half the brewery's sales each year.

Not a bad return on what New Belgium tells Ad Age was a $235,000 investment it made on its social-media presence last year "mostly dedicated to Facebook, including both app development and advertising."
Really? Over two hundred grand on Facebook--just to get a story in the USA Today confusing correlation with causality? It gets worse: New Belgium is planning on dumping another $200k into promoting a new beer launch on Facebook. And this is just sad:
New Belgium ... has managed to best the larger craft brewers with 211,000 fans. Not bad for a brew that is available only in 28 states and Washington, D.C.... Its fan base compares with 138,000 for Boston Beer's Sam Adams, and 134,000 for Sierra Nevada, both of which have national distribution.
Here's a real statement of causality: New Belgium has apparently spent over a dollar for every "like" on their Facebook page. No wonder they're leading the pack. But will any of this translate into actual beer sales--or even a big enough sales bump to justify the expense? Let's just say I find it implausible. (Even this morning I encountered yet another in a long line of studies showing the real-world limits of social media.) While it seems to make good sense to have an active social media presence for the small minority for whom that's important, "liking" a brewery on Facebook is not the same as selling beer. Just saying.