When number one means nothing.
I recently read an article in Markkinointi & Mainonta where Richard von Kaufmann from media agency Zipipop Freud looked at a few ‘top’ Finnish Facebook brands and applied his ‘golden triangle’ strategy to their existing social media behaviour. In that article, a lot of what he says is sensible and decent advice based around social media. For example:
“simply pushing products in a social channel as though it was a “traditional” media channel will bring lacklustre results.”
Amen to that. After all, one of the first and most obvious mistakes brands make across social media and especially on Facebook is that they talk about themselves. People think it’s boring, Facebook thinks it’s boring, it’s not effective, but it still happens regularly.
I have one (large) problem with the article – the brand he’s chosen to look at. The top 5 is pulled from Socialbakers, and it is simply a list of Finnish pages ordered by page likes on Facebook.
That’s right, page likes.
Ordering Facebook pages by their page likes is about as useful as a surfboard made of sugar. It tells you nothing about how good their social media presence is – in fact it’s worse because it can be actively misleading.
Gigantti has 310k page likes, which puts it top of the tree – does this mean that Gigantti is the number one brand to watch on social media in Finland?
Short answer: No.
If page likes were a measure of purely organic support for a brand – it would be different, but this is not the case on Facebook. From what I’ve seen – the main reason that Gigantti has amassed so many more page likes than I’d expect is that they were gathered through incentives. This means the brand has encouraged people to click that ‘like’ button in order to enter a competition or similar. Another example from the list above; Hesburger requires you to ‘like’ their page in order to use their ‘free’ wifi. This sort of approach is another major mistake that brands have made on Facebook, they end up with a bunch of users who’ve ‘liked’ the page but may not actually like the page at all. It negatively impacts organic reach, limiting who Facebook allows your posts to be shown to.
If you want an extreme example of a brand obliterating their Facebook page by chasing useless likes, go and check out Budweiser.
I’ve been saying for a long time that cheap likes are absolutely useless. So as you might expect, looking at Gigantti’s Facebook page, their engagement level is really low. We record it as 0.08%.
But what is ‘Engagement rate’?
Engagement rate is really a measure of how much activity is happening on your page versus the number of page likes you have. Everyone measures engagement rate in a slightly different way.
Here we stick to a really clear and simple formula.
Total engagement (likes, comments and shares), divided by page likes and then divided by the number of days in the period. Using the Ezy engagement measurement – you can see a much clearer representation of how those ‘top’ brands are doing on Facebook.
|Brand||Engagement Rate (%)|
This sort of ranking still doesn’t differentiate between organic and paid reach. So although Samsung are top by a significant margin, we have little idea whether they have a healthy organic Facebook presence, or whether they simply spend a lot of money to get seen.
Aside from brute forcing reach by paying for it, another popular way that brands can buy their way into these lists is by incentivising posts. I expect most of you have encountered a competition held by one brand or another that offers a prize if you like, comment or share their particular post. This approach aims to achieve high reach on Facebook organically, to avoid paying directly for it. I’m fairly ambivalent towards incentivised posts – I’ve seen plenty of terrible examples but a few fairly interesting ones too. I would never say don’t do them, but hammering the same tactic is guaranteed to have diminishing returns – and with competitions this is no different.
And these cost the brand money. Even simple competitions have a baseline cost. Giving away a t-shirt requires you put it in the post with the correct address. Giving away more expensive prizes incurs a natural cost. Is what you’re paying achieving the result you want?
That would be the question to ask Gigantti, whose most engaging posts over the last month have been competitions, or ‘tester applications’ which are essentially competitions that require you to have to write some feedback on the product you ‘win’.
So is Gigantti really bad then?
Actually no. As Richard notes, Gigantti used authentic video content as a recruitment tool, which featured its own staff talking about working there. Here is an example of such a post. It achieved 62 likes, 19 shares and 10 comments. This sort of figure gives a realistic idea of the sort of organic engagement we’d expect from a brand like Gigantti – not bad by any means, but nothing that would make them the number one brand on social media.
Why you should be wary of trusting statistics
Automated reports of the sort Socialbakers provide are more or less useless when it comes to measuring the success of any social media presence. Let’s take a look at their top 5 media companies in Finland according to the automated list.
Again – these brands appear to be listed by the number of page likes. Does that mean Radio Rock is outperforming Finland’s highest traffic site, Iltalehti.fi on Facebook? Let’s have a look at the actual figures from Facebook for the top 3 – Radio Rock, Radio NRJ and Iltalehti:
|Radio Rock||Radio NRJ||Iltalehti.fi|
Radio Rock has a lot more shares than NRJ while the other figures are pretty similar, around 2000 likes per day. Contrast this with Iltalehti who are sitting in third place on the same list. While Radio Rock and NRJ generate good figures – Iltalehti’s numbers are in a different league. This is not clear at all in the Socialbakers list.
Can you say all that in less words?
Yes of course – let’s summarise everything above:
- The number of page likes a Facebook page has means very little on its own.
- The only numbers worth focusing on are engagement: (likes, comments and shares).
- Engagement can also be incentivised, which costs the brand money – so comparisons between brands in this way don’t tell the whole story.
It can certainly get confusing quite quickly when it comes to determining success on social media, so in the next post I’m going to have a look at some Facebook pages which EzyInsights thinks are the real ones to follow on social media.
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.