A new study suggests that Facebook “friends” are worth a lot more than a bunch of social media posts.

Syncapse, a social intelligence company, conducted new research that suggests that each individual “like” or “friend” a brand receives generates about $174.17 for that brand, Business News Daily reports. The number represents a 28 percent increase over the 2010 value.

In the study, Syncapse observed more than 2,000 Facebook users who had liked or friended a brand. By analyzing dynamics such as product spending, loyalty, page recommendations, media value acquisition cost, and brand affinity, the company was able to determine that the average Facebook friend, or “fan,” was worth $174.17.

Fans of a particular brand were found to spend $116 more on the company per year than nonfans, as well as 43 percent more within the brand’s industry, Business News Daily reports.

According to the study, the key to cultivating a successful Facebook fan base is identifying “key customer segments.” By determining which offers and campaigns will appeal to a specific group of users, a company can reap greater returns in terms of revenue and brand loyalty.

Furthermore, Facebook users who think their opinion plays a role in shaping a particular brand are far more likely to react positively in a social media setting, the study suggests. As such, brand managers should seek the input of its social media community to determine which of their methods are generating positive feedback.

Users are equally likely to share any bad experiences that they have with a particular brand, making accurate assessments of a Facebook community’s opinions that much more important, the study warned.

"The increase in average fan value is driven by fans' tendencies to be superconsumers," the report said. "Not only do they tend to be brand users first, they spend more, engage more, advocate more and are more loyal. The significant and increasing value of a Facebook brand fan affirms past social marketing investment and mandates deeper commitment and accountability in the future."

In other words, Facebook likes are like money in the bank.