Why There’s More to Facebook Pages than ‘Likes’

Why There’s More to Facebook Pages than ‘Likes’ image like facebook signThe most successful brands on Facebook Pages aren’t the ones you’d think. If I told you that Coca-Cola’s Facebook Page has an engagement rate of less than one percent, would you believe me? Well, it’s true. After calculating the ratio of Coke’s total Likes to total engagement (“Talking About This”), the Page clocks in at a meager score of 0.7%.

But this is not unusually low for Facebook Pages; in fact, it’s quite average. Most brands are very successful in generating Likes but fail to keep their fans talking. When it comes to real success for a brand on Facebook, in the end, engagement numbers mean a lot more than total Likes—a number that often speaks more to the size of the brand’s media buy and not to the quality of their content. As such, Talking About This is actually a far more valuable metric and tool than total Likes are. Here’s why.

There are many ways to get a Like on Facebook—a paid advertisement, incentivized deals, fan-only contests, etc. But whether hard won or bought by the thousand, this number doesn’t reflect true fan interest and engagement. Yes, when total Likes spike, so too does overall engagement (likes/comments/shares), but it’s usually an altogether temporary side effect to ad spend. At first, new fans will explore the Page and interact with its content with a fresh-faced burst of enthusiasm for the subject matter, perhaps also feeling excited about the prospect of a contest or promotion. But eyes start to wander as content wears thin, becomes stale or disinteresting to them. Users won’t bother to ‘Unlike’ the Page, but they will forget about it entirely. Dissatisfaction—conscious or otherwise—with the brand will linger. It is the ongoing presence (in spirit) of these disinterested fans that create such low engagement percentages. And rightfully so.

What matters more than a headcount is how heads interact with the Page once they have liked it, a phase dubbed “the Afterlike” by Crowdly. In the Afterlike phase, content is what matters. Don’t expect fans to stick around and participate with mediocre posts and generic tabs. Now, more than ever, brands must impress fans—and do it under increasingly fierce competition for every comment, every inch of News Feed real estate. A brand’s personality and unique story must shine through in each content offering. Hitting the right note can be difficult, but brands with unique perspectives and something interesting to say will resonate with consumers. Are you knowledgeable? Quirky? Romantic? Define your identity, and then broadcast it to the world. Make consumers remember you and look forward to your updates. Brands that achieve this status will have consistently higher engagement percentages when compared to discombobulated, soulless and/or purely promotion-driven Pages.

Actual Engagement = People Talking About This / Total Likes

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Let’s take a step back to talk about the ratio that creates this important metric.

The People Talking About This metric measures unique user interaction with a Page over a seven-day period. This includes liking a Page, posting on the Timeline, answering a question, commenting, sharing, etc. One interaction per fan over the course of a week doesn’t seem like a lot to ask – a comment takes only a few seconds, after all, and seven days is a long time in the world of social media. And yet this can be very difficult to achieve.

Lady Gaga, one of the most popular current musicians, has a 0.9% engagement rate. Facebook itself slides in with a measly 0.6%. Sure, these Pages attract a lot of attention (over 40 million fans each), but that doesn’t mean they’re the most riveting and engaging communities on Facebook. Of course, a Page with more fans requires a larger talking about number to tip your engagement ratio, but that doesn’t excuse the vast majority of your fan base being inactive. (Who’s to say you, as a mega brand, shouldn’t clean house at this point?) You could have a super-dedicated fan base on a 300-fan Page with a 40% engagement rate because the fans are truly immersed and interested. The goal is to strike a balance somewhere in between. You want a large number of fans because this will help your messaging reach a wide group of people, but if a good deal of these fans aren’t listening and interacting, then you may as well be talking to a stadium full of earplug-wearing seat warmers.

Here are few brands on Facebook that strike a good balance.

YourMother, a fan Page dedicated to How I Met Your Mother and its syndication on WGN America, has a remarkable engagement rate of 21% with over 1,000,000 fans. (Full disclosure: WGN America is a Story Worldwide client.) We attribute this to the many dedicated, obsessive, enthusiastic fans of the show who react strongly to well-informed, relevant content about the show they know and love. Plus, the proof is in the pudding: Pages publishing great aggregated and original content often achieve virality scores over 1 percent. By posting twice, or even three times per day, YourMother ensures that fans keep interested, and that the Page content stays at the top of newsfeeds and at top of mind.

The New York Knicks are another strong example. At the height of Linsanity, the Page had an engagement percentage of 21%. It now hovers around 5.7%, which is still far above average. With a talented young team, the brand is inherently interesting, and their frequent postings (around 3 per day, often in real time) go a long way in encouraging fan engagement. Posts consistently earn thousands of Likes because they favor colorful photos, game stats, and links to articles.

Brands on Facebook have long been focused on total Likes as the be-all and end-all of metrics, but I think this overall engagement ratio is something closer to reality—a more accurate reflection of true fan interaction. A high percentage here is well worth reaching for.

Great overall Facebook engagement is hard to find—and for good reason. In fact, we challenge to you find any Facebook Pages that have high engagement rates. Anything over 5% gets a pat on the back. Over 20% and you get a cookie.

Which brands are winning on Facebook in your opinion? Can you show us some brands with great engagement percentages? How important is the talking about metric to you?

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