Social media is firmly established as an essential avenue for consumer facing businesses. It would be difficult to find a blue chip brand without a developed social media presence. This study looks at which brands with large Facebook pages are creating the greatest and lowest levels of engagement through their content. How are they doing this and how can weaker pages correct their mistakes.
Engagement is vital to any social media campaign, whether the purpose is to promote a brand, improve customer service or distribute news and content. Any way you cut it, it's the driving force for reaching users. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all designed with mechanisms that encourage this engagement. Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm which manages which content is in user newsfeeds, attempts to put the most engaging content in front of users. This is determined based on the interaction users have with content and other users. Users will see more content that is similar to that which they interact with.
A page can have millions of fans, but if users aren't interacting with the pages content, their EdgeRank, reach, and efficiency is dismal. Most users will only interact with content that appears in their timeline. Because of this, the size of a community is a poor judge of engagement.
For a brand manager the goal should be to create the most engaging content possible rather than just creating the most content. Social media is not free; any brand with a substantial following has invested considerably in the acquisition of fans and the creation of content. The measurement and focus on user engagement is the most cost effective method of managing a Facebook page.
Most analytic tools look at fan base and corporate posts as a measure of success. In reality these are expenditures, for a brand manager, success should be the response that these outputs get. The measurement tool used in this study is called efficiency value from the eValue Social Media ROI Suite; it uses fans and brand content as a baseline in which user interactions and post are measured against. This distills efficiency. The resulting measure is then normalized for community size and ranked on a percentile scale against a global benchmark.
This measurement found that some brands are far better than others at engaging users even at the top end of fan size. All brands in this study have fan size over 250,000 fans while most of them are well over.
So which Facebook brands are killing it and which brand have been collecting users instead of connecting with users?
Which brands with a large number of users are losing the engagement game and why? The brands that we found that are not successful have no inherent problem with their corporate image; they are not the Exxon's and Halliburton's of the corporate world. They are beloved brands that have had difficulty in adapting to the realm of social media.
Stride Gum, Barbie and Roxy all scored extremely low in our study. Here are some examples of where these pages are lacking.
Stride has an e-Value score of 19 with over 2.8 million fans. Stride's main issue is the tone of their platform, by stating ridiculous facts or asking illogical questions with a high proportion of their wall posts, they are limiting the interactivity with users. There is little room for interaction with statements that don't make sense. While this technique might be effective in print or television advertising, it does not adapt well to social media. While recent information would suggest 3rd party API's no longer affect EdgeRank, using them exclusively are a sure sign of a passive page manager. Consistent posting is important, thoughtful, timely content, and interaction is essential.
Besides questions, status updates have no call for interaction, content is difficult to relate to.
Barbie is a page that could be looked at in a variety of ways. One might make the argument that their target market is too young for Facebook's age requirement of 13. The 4 million plus fans on the Barbie page would suggest otherwise. A key problem on this page is the content that the page shares is very different to the user content that is posted. While users are sharing images of Barbie clothes they have made, Barbie writes in the first person about trials and tribulations of a wealthy fashionista. Occasional posts such as the one highlighting a TV show speak to a younger demographic that is unable to access Facebook. This contributes to low level interaction and may be off putting to many. The result is an e-Value score of 7.
Off putting tone of privilege and wealth might alienate some fans, Most posts are statement without the request of interactivity.
The Roxy brand Facebook page has an efficiency score of 19, with some 1.9 Million fans. Some simple fixes for this page would be the geo-targeting of specific posts that focus on a particular place. By extending the visibility to all fans you are getting irrelevant responses by users that dilute the message and reduce the EdgeRank affinity that users have with these off topic posts. Asking questions that allow for a greater interaction would increase the level of interaction. Beyond this, using a spam filter for user posts would help to eliminate the pornographic spamming of the site in order to make it friendlier for the brands target market.
Brand posts do not invoke an in depth interaction. No geo-targeting of geographic specific posts.
In addition to the specific problems with these pages, all of these brands are lacking in interactivity with their fan base. Questions are not being responded to, shared media is not being commented on. Social media is a two way street, by listening, responding and adapting to user tastes and behaviour you're bound to find a style that works.
It's obvious that considerable expense has gone into these pages. Campaigns like these whether successful or failures take time, money and effort. It's surprising that changes would not be made if they are not getting greater resonance with their users. Is it a lack of measurement that is failing them or accountability?
In the world of business social media stands to change the way businesses advertise and market themselves, size alone is no longer enough. By leveling the playing field even big brands need to engage on an individual level. Those brand that do it well will flourish while those that lose sight of that will fail.
Creating engagement with fans is not a "paint by numbers" activity; you have to listen to your fans, understand what would be of interest and above all interact. This must be re-evaluated in an ongoing basis as user expectations and competition for attention changes.
Brendon Chrus is a social media cage fighter working for Engagement Labs in Montreal. His mixed martial arts include marketing, writing and social media. More about Engagement Labs' newest tool eValue can be found at www.socialmediaefficiency.com