Your Facebook page is a litmus test of your brand’s health

Since I started blogging in early 2004, I’ve heard over and over again how brands have lost control of their reputation. Power has shifted away from brands and towards customers, employees and other individuals. With new publishing platforms, ordinary citizens have gotten the possibility to voice their opinions and influence businesses and organizations trough social media. Nowhere is this more evident today than on brand pages on Facebook.

litmus test

Due to the sheer volume of individuals that are present on Facebook, any people that have a bone to pick with a brand will almost automatically gravitate towards the Facebook page of that company simply because of the amount of exposure that comment can get. Sure, you can still influence by writing blog posts and using other channels, but writing on the wall on a Facebook page is more direct, you feel like you are talking directly to the brand and its customers, right on its turf.

If you visit the Facebook page of a brand and it is nothing but a steady stream of negative comments, it will probably influence how you view this brand (see also my post about Chiquita on Facebook). Take a look at General Motors for example. I’ve written two blog posts about how Saab fans have turned the GM page into a big mess, while GM have done nothing. But GM have other problems on Facebook. People are complaining about everything from problems with cars to bad service. They are complaining about working conditions and the fact that GM killed off the Pontiac brand.

When GM wishes everyone a nice holiday, “fans” are responding with all sorts of negative comments, mostly about the decision by GM to cut Christmas bonuses for retirees. This post has 106 comments, at least half are probably negative.

General Motors comment bonus

It has now been more than two weeks since the first outburst of criticism from angry Saab fans and finally we are starting to see some activity from GM. There aren’t as many Saab photos posted as it was a week or two ago, but they keep coming. But maybe this incident pushed GM into taking a bit more care of their page than they previously did. Representatives from GM Customer Service have now responded to a few posts by fans and even the admin of the GM page has responded a few times.

A brand should not let critics run their Facebook page. If you are the subject of a smear campaign, like GM with the Saab story, you can’t comment on everything but you need to find a balance where you let critics comment but you don’t surrender the entire conversation to your opponents. As a brand, listen to the opinion and try actively to solve the issue.

Facebook has become an important driver of corporate reputation. If you don’t think that your Facebook page reflects reality, then you should do something about it. If you don’t, we are left to believe that this is how the world views your brand.

How US retailers use Facebook for customer service

A new study from Conversocial describes how the largest US retailers use Facebook for customer service. The white paper, entitled Who’s Ignoring Their Customers?: A Survey Of The Largest US Retailers and Their Use of Social Media, includes findings such as these:

– Walmart, the largest retailer, was missing 41% of all customer service enquiries. Costco, Kmart and Kroger missed 100%. Safeway were doing relatively well, missing only 5%. Overall, 65% of all complaints and questions were missed by the sample group.

– Safeway was given praise for dealing with the full complaint on the wall. Safeway redirected some complaints to a Facebook dedicated email and a Freephone number, but a significant number of conversations about customer satisfaction are handled on social media outlets which means the solutions are visible to everyone.

– US retailers are generally slower at responding to customers than UK retailers. None of the ten in the US study were averaging at under an hour, compared with two retailers in the UK sample achieving a quick average time.

Brands on Facebook - graph of customer response rates

Read the full report below, it is worth the time.

The brands on Facebook that most people are talking about

So you are a large brand that have managed to attract a lot of followers or fans on Facebook. That’s great, but how much engagement is there around the content that your brand is posting on Facebook? That’s what Facebook’s new metric “People Talking About” is trying to measure. The metric “represents the number of people that are talking about the page, sharing content from the page and further interacting with the page, thus creating stories. Its basically a metric of active fans”.

This number can be found on Facebook pages, below the number of fans. But what is a good number? How can you determine if you are doing better than your competitors? To get a better understanding of how the most popular brands are doing in terms of engagement, I looked at the top 40 brands according to a list compiled by Ignite Social Media. There are other pages on Facebook with more fans, like sports teams, but this is a good list to look at.


National Geographic fans are active
It turns out that for most of the top consumer brands, engagement levels are somewhere between 0.5 – 2% of the total number of fans. So if you have 10 million fans, you probably have about 50,000 – 200,000 “People Talking About” your content. That’s a good benchmark to look at when you study your own page. At the top of this list is National Geographic, which is a media brand. Media pages often have even higher levels of engagement, possibly because they are very good at creating rich content on an ongoing basis. For example, the Guardian has 124,800 fans and 8,000 (or 6.4%) people talking about its page.

Among the non-media brands, Burberry, Walmart and Disney seem to do an outstanding job in getting their fans like, comment and share their content.

All the top 40 brand pages can be found in this Slideshare document, which you can also download for better viewing.

Other pages with really active fans can be found among sports teams (not on this list). Real Madrid (5.28%), Manchester United (3.21%) and FC Barcelona (2.99%) are some examples.

What I haven’t been able to determine if the value of “People Talking About” will aggregate over time or if it is a measure based on a period of time, for example the last 6 months. UPDATE: it measures the number of people that have interacted with your page during the last 7 days. Do you have any other examples of Facebook pages that many “People Are Talking About”? Please share in the comments.

Footnote: This metric does not measure how many times a brand is mentioned on Facebook.

Update: Hat tip to Markus Welin for the info about the 7 day period of measurement.

H&M and Sony Ericsson among top 50 brands on Facebook

The Ignite Social Media Blog tracks the most popular branded pages on Facebook. In the September update, two Swedish brands are ranked among the top 50 pages. With 8.3 million “fans”, H&M moves up one spot to #32 and Sony Ericsson stays at #50 (with 5.7 million).

Top 10 branded Facebook pages (Sept 2011):

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. Coca-Cola
  4. Disney
  5. MTV
  6. Starbucks
  7. Oreo
  8. Red Bull
  9. Converse All Stars
  10. Converse

Audi ranked the most social luxury brand in China

China became the world’s second largest luxury goods market in 2010, according to consulting firm Bain & Company. It is estimated that China will account for about 20%, or $27 billion, of the total global luxury sales in 2015, so this is the market to watch if you are a luxury brand. And social media is on the rise in China: micro blogs Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo both have in excess of 200 million users, social network Renren has some 120 million users and there are about 300 million blogs in China. No wonder brands are turning to social media sites to engage in conversations with potential customers.

L2 is a think tank which has just released a report on the top luxury brands in China and how they are performing in social media. The L2 Prestige 100®: China IQ study attempts to quantify the digital competence in China of 100 iconic brands. The one brand with the highest overall score is Audi, followed by Burberry and BMW. Seven of the top ten are car brands, and four of these are German brands.

audi kaixin

1.  AUDI – Innovation in technology: maintains presence on six different social media sites in addition to its own
2.  BURBERRY – Luxury’s digital darling doesn’t disappoint. From Jiepang VIP guest passes for Beijing grandopening to Christopher Bailey soundtrack on Youku, Burberry claims the fashion crown.
3.  BMW – From “beasts to joy”—sheer social pleasure; great translation of a global campaigns for the Chinese market.
4.  VOLVO – C70 Sina Weibo challenges consumers to design the plot for the next Volvo commercial.
5.  BENEFIT COSMETICS – Local e-commerce launch caters to consumers with samples and gift-with-purchase offer; Sina Weibo and Kaixin “Benefit Beach Honey” contests delight.
6.  CADILLAC – Recently released Route 66 short film starring Karen Mok across site and social media.
6.  ESTÉE LAUDER – EL-Lady BBS includes videos, games, Q&A, and link to purchase.
8.  LAND ROVER – “The Evoque Effect” sets the standard for multichannel digital campaigns.
8.  MERCEDES-BENZ – SLK Mask Party contest provides winners tickets to China Fashion Week and site visitors an opportunity to create their own virtual mask.
10.  PORSCHE – Innovative comparison tool and stunning microsites for each model are the engines of their online presence.

L2 also compiled a list of the brands with most followers on Sina Weibo in which the ex-Swedish, now Chinese brand Volvo is at #8:

sina weibo top ten brands

The top brands regarding organic buzz (mentions on Sina Weibo & Qzone and videos on Youku & Tudou):

sina weibo buzz brands

Download the full report here.

Why we follow brands on Twitter

Market research firm Labs42 surveyed 500 Twitter users about how they interact with brands. The majority of respondents (aged 18+) followed 10 brands or less. The main reason to follow a brand on Twitter was to get discounts.

chart why we follow brands on twitter

Based on these answers, it would be easy to conclude that discounts and promotions would be the quickest way to build a large following on Twitter. However, when looking at some Swedish brands, the really successful ones are using Twitter mainly as a channel to inform about products and business related topics, in combination with answering questions from consumers. Check out @hm and@spotify as good examples. Sports retail chain Stadium is one example of an account with mainly promotions, but it is only followed by 500 people.

This survey had very few options to the question “why do you follow [brands]”. Another similar survey from last year revealed that information about new products is one of the main reasons to follow brands.

Why we follow brands on Twitter

Also see this white paper about Swedish businesses on Twitter: