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By Thomas Baekdal - April 2012

One Million Facebook Likes? So what?

One question I get all time is "how do I become more successful on Facebook?" Then when I start to discuss it, someone always mentions Old Spice, Coca Cola, or Red Bull, and this is where things get problematic. They are all huge brands doing very traditional marketing. Yes, Old Spice's campaign is very traditional in its form. I'm not saying that it doesn't have any value (it does), but it's not enough to just create a (social) campaign.

Note: Read my 14 page report on Facebook analytics, specifically looking at Likes vs Friends of Fans vs Talking About vs Reach.

Being successful on Facebook actually involves two steps. First is the step involved in getting people to know your brand and connect with you. The other is to keep that connection going. And this is where it gets interesting.

If we look at the brands who are doing well in terms of getting fans, we see this:

Number of likes:

Of course, just looking at the number of likes isn't everything, you also have to account for market size and reach. But even if you do that, you will still find that the big brands are doing better than others.

A common element for all big brands is that they have amassed their fans via mostly traditional campaigns with a social call-to-action.

Old Spice is a good example. The campaign with Isaiah Mustafa created a ton of exposure, all pointing to a social call-to-action. But, it was a video with a fake (but funny) marketing message, and it could apply to any product. Old Spice just happened to be the label. It was 100% traditional attention-getting advertising.

Is that a good way to get people to like your brand? Absolutely! ...but it is also a one night stand.

If we instead compare fans with how many who interacts with the brands today, the result is quite different.

Comparing Fans with 'People Talking About' (the ratio between them)

Now, all the top players in getting people's attention, are suddenly at the bottom.

On the other hand, Walk of The Earth, Sarah Blackwood, Møbile Vikings, and Brooklyn Museum are doing a fantastic job engaging with their audience. Other brands like Garfield and Porsche excel in the way that they have managed to do well in both ways.

The point is, that if you want to be more successful on Facebook (and other channels), the way get a lot of attention and boost your volume, in the short run, is via attention-grasping campaigns with a social call-to-action. Like what all the big brands are doing.

But this will be a one-night stand and cannot be your social strategy. It's what you do to get people's attention, but now you have to deliver on your promise by offering a lasting relationship.

To do that, you need an entirely different approach, and the best place to seek inspiration for that is to look at the brands like Walk Off The Earth, Sarah Blackwood, Porsche, Garfield, Urtekram, Brooklyn Museum (and this is just a small sample).

The really interesting thing though, is that many of the brands with the highest engagement score usually skipped the first step. Instead they slowly build up their social reach in an organic way, without spending millions on social campaigns. It's slower, but produces better long term results per fan.

Note: The list above is in no way complete. It is just few examples of brands at both ends of the scale. The point is that you need to look beyond likes.


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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