I had the good fortune of giving a presentation in London this week in which I shared a lot of data on how the Top 50 Branded Facebook Fan Pages (which I’ve now been tracking for over 18 months) perform against one another. As I fly home, one fact keeps coming back to me: how often the best brands post to their Facebook fan pages and the impact it has on the impressions they generate.
Our unique partnership with Expion, a social media management software, allows me to look at data well beyond page size. With Expion, I analyzed all 50 of the largest Facebook on several data points. The data looked at page performance from May 1, 2011 to July 31, 2011. Any fan counts were collected on August 1, 2011. (Do note that Expion cannot see private Facebook data, so geo-targeted posts or posts from private pages [such as those with an age restriction] are not included. I don’t believe that has any impact on this particular data, however.)
Who are the Top 50?
While you can get the complete list of the Top 50 Facebook pages on my regular ranking, for the purposes of this study, I broke them into 5 categories. The Top 50 pages are composed of:
- 15 Fashion Apparel Retailers
- 13 Packaged Food/Drinks
- 10 Technology Companies
- 6 Entertainment/Recreation
- 5 Food Establishments or Chains
How often do brands post to Facebook?
There was wide variability in how often brand pages post to Facebook. The average brand page studied posts to Facebook 38 times per month. But Entertainment brands had nearly twice the frequency, at 70 posts per month.
The Top 5 and the Bottom 5
Don’t be fooled by the neatness of the 38 posts per month average though. There is wide variability between the most frequent posters and those who post the least.
The Most Frequent Posters
The five most frequent posters in the Top 50 from May through July were:
- National Geographic: 145 posts per month
- iTunes: 119 posts per month
- MTV: 108 posts per month
- Xbox: 77 posts per month
- DC Shoes: 70 posts per month
The Least Frequent Posters
The five least frequent posters in the Top 50 from May through July were:
- Disney Pixar: 6 posts per month
- McDonalds: 6 posts per month
- Zara: 5 posts per month
- Nutella: 4 posts per month
- Ferrero Rocher: 1/3 post per month (1 post during the study)
Facebook Posting and Impact on Impressions
If we calculate the maximum number of impressions it was possible for these pages to generate, we can compare their relative share of voice. To calculate maximum impressions, Expion uses the following formula:
Max impressions = (Facebook fans x # of posts) + (Fan actions x average friends/active fan)
In other words, if you know how many fans the post can potentially reach (all of them) and you know how many times fans like or comment on a post, you can multiply those fan actions by the average number of friends that each active fan has. It’s a bunch of math that Expion performs routinely.
Since no page gets all the impressions possibly, however, I multiplied the maximum impressions by the expected impressions. Facebook reports that 16% of fans see a given brand post and 12% of their friends’ posts. So calculating 14% of the maximum impressions gives us a rough estimate of the actual impressions per brand, factoring in the brand posts and the fan actions.
Estimated impressions = ((Facebook fans x # of posts) + (Fan actions x average friends/active fan)) x .14
The difference between the Top 5 and Bottom 5 is alarming.
The top 5 posting pages are getting 32 times the number of impressions that the bottom 5 are getting. MTV generated an estimated 1.3 billion impressions from their effort, while Ferrero Rocher generated an estimated 2.1 million impressions because of their lack of effort on Facebook.
If part of the reason to market to is to generate positive impressions of your brand, this is not a number to be ignored. And if it were a traditional advertising share of voice calculation, the bottom five would try to increase their ad spend.
Regardless of whether your page is in the Top 50 or nowhere near it, you likely have competitors that are active on Facebook. Where would you rank against them in a similar analysis?
In short, there are only two ways to increase the number of newsfeed impressions that you generate. Either you post more or you get more fan actions. As you can see from this analysis, the best strategy is to do both.