At Internet Summit 2011, I presented Secrets of the Top 50 Facebook Fan Pages, which provided a data driven analysis of the 50 largest Facebook fan pages, which I’ve been tracking now for more than 20 months.
I was able to do this analysis using social media marketing software from Expion, which allows me to receive data from virtually any Facebook fan page, regardless of whether or not we have admin rights to that page. The only exception would be “private” content, which might include pages with an age gate (like alcohol pages) or content that is geo-targeted. So a big thank you to Expion for the data.
While the entire presentation is embedded below, I wanted to point out some of the more interesting findings after the embed. If you just want to get to the $12m for MTV, skip to the end, or slides 16 and 17 of the deck.
Certain Industries Seem to Have an Advantage
The Top 50 fan pages are remarkably grouped. Specifically:
- 14 are Packaged Food/Drinks
- 12 are Fashion Apparel Retailers
- 9 are Technology
- 7 are Entertainment/Recreation
- 6 are Food Establishment/Chain
- Only 2 are Other
Combined They Are a Force
To get into the top 50 branded Facebook fans, you have to have at least 5.8 million fans. The average page in the Top 50 has 14 million fans, and the largest page in the Top 50 (Facebook) has almost 55 million fans. Combined, they have 700,570,095 fans as of this study.
During the 60 days studied, the brands posted 3,579 times.
Average Brand Posts to Facebook Per Month
On average, the brands in the Top 50 posted 35.79 times a month. Assuming they are posting on business days (22 of them a month), that would suggest they post once or twice a day (average of 1.6 times per day).
This varies widely, though, with Entertainment brands posting 65.93 times a month and Packaged Food and Drink brands only posting 27 times a month. This may make sense, as entertainment sites have scads of good celebrity gossip to share with their fans.
The Top 5 posters (NatGeo, MTV, Xbox, iTunes and Walmart) grew 50% faster in a 90 period studied than the bottom 5 posters, so it seems that (not surprisingly) having an active page makes it easier to grow.
Facebook Wall Posts Drive Serious Impressions
When we looked at the estimated impressions crafted by the pages that get the most (MTV, YouTube, iTunes, Red Bull and NatGeo), we can pretty quickly see that they are getting serious volumes of impressions. From their wall posts and fan posting to the wall alone (not including tab impressions, we see the following:
- MTV generated 1,218,758,994 impressions in 60 days. (Yes, billion, with a B.)
- YouTube generated 640,093,006 impressions in 60 days.
- iTunes generated 422,886,740 impressions in 60 days.
- Red Bull generated 400,573,254 impressions in 60 days.
- NatGeo generated 374,453,923 impressions in 60 days.
Now, how did I calculate impressions for pages that I don’t control? Wasn’t easy, but Expion helped a lot. Here’s the math:
Impressions = ((FB Fans x Posts) x 16%) + (Fan Actions x Avg. Friends/Active Fan) x 12))
In other words, I took every post they did and calculated 16% of fans would see it (from a Facebook published study I read) and then took all the fan actions and calculated that 12% of their friends saw the post (from that same study).
Since coming home from the Summit, I’ve tested this methodology against 9 separate pages that we run for brands. While there is variability (some were low, some were high), overall the analysis suggests that this method was very conservative when compared to actual Facebook data provided through Facebook. If that were to hold for these pages, the impressions number would be significantly higher than what I estimated.
What I found is that the best pages in terms of performing were getting 57x more impressions than the bottom 5 pages, even among this group of elite pages. This shows the importance of quality newsfeed management.
Impressions Have a Dollar Value
If you believe that one purpose of advertising is to drive positive impressions among a group with a propensity to buy, then it’s logical that impressions among Facebook fans and their friends would be similarly valuable.
Using a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of $10, which is quite realistic for a highly targeted online media buy, you can then value each of these pages work on their newsfeeds. And we find that, together, the Top 50 pages generated $84,600,000 worth of impressions from their updates in only 60 days. This equates, of course, to $42.3 million a month.
The largest share of that value went to MTV, whose 12 billion impressions are valued at $12,187,589.
(I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that MTV didn’t pay someone $6m per month to update their channel, so I’m assuming the ROI of updating the newsfeed, by this metric at least, is incredibly strong.)
I was personally pretty impressed by this metric. Not sure if MTV has ever done a similar analysis, but in an era when advertising budgets are often being cut, social contributing in this significant way can only be a good thing.