Facebook has become synonymous with the "Like" button, which was first introduced in 2009 and has changed the way we interact with companies and products. According to Facebook's S1 IPO filing, the site "generated an average of 2.7 billion Likes and Comments per day during the three months ended December 31, 2011."
When users click a button to show they "like" a Facebook page, they are effectively signing up for continued interactions with that page and the entity behind it. Corporations have increasingly made social media connectivity an important aspect of their marketing campaigns, allowing them to communicate with their customers, develop their brand and even offer special promotions. The "like" button is one of many ways that Facebook creates value, learning about preferences of its users and allowing companies to target messaging over the social network.
As always, some companies have been more successful than others in drawing a massive online following and millions of "likes" by Facebook users, but succeeding can have a direct impact on the bottom line. A recent study by ComScorefound that users who "like" a page are more likely to make a purchase from that retailer than from a user with no affiliation. In addition, using Nielsen Brand effect studies, Facebook has found that over the past two years, consumers are 65 percent more likely to remember social ads compared to nonsocial advertising.
Brands also gain exposure to users who are "friends of fans," those who are connected with users that "like" pages and will see actions of those users show up on their Facebook news feeds. With the average Facebook user having 130 friends, potential distribution can get very large, very quickly. According to Facebook, for the top 1,000 fan pages, the friends of fans number is approximately 81 times larger than the pure fans number alone.
Although being "liked" offers direct, immediate access to users and their friends, it does not always translate to success on Facebook. To get a measure of how well companies are utilizing their social connections, Facebook launched the "people talking about this" feature, which measures user engagement -- a much more valuable metric than "likes" alone. The new measure tracks structured activity on Facebook, such as users commenting on posts or sharing links and photos. When users engage in this brand-related activity, it becomes a mini-endorsement of the company or piece of content and offers immediate visibility to their friends.
"Companies look at ‘people talking about this'as a way of understanding something that business has always cared about: chatter or buzz about brand, and how well they're seeding their product or idea," says David Baser, the product manager at Facebook who oversees the feature. "This is a metric that lets you know how much users are talking about and engaging with a brand or topic, what marketers refer to as ‘reach'," he says. "Much of the value you get is having the users to spread the word about you through word-of-mouth."
"Many companies have said they wanted to understand virality and the people who are taking the first step in the viral chain," says Baser. "We wanted businesses to understand that engaging users is important." With this feature, it's easier for companies to target their campaigns to focus on engagement, something some have already done.
Among all corporate brands, Facebook itself would be at the top spot, with approximately 60 million "likes" on its main fan page, but this list includes only non-Facebook companies so the social network is excluded from the list.
So, what are the most "liked" brands on Facebook, and what they are doing right to maintain such a massive following? Click ahead to find out!
Note: The figures for total number of "likes" and "people talking about this" were as of the publish date for this story.
TargetNumber of "likes": 12.16 million
People talking about this: 437,772
The American retail chain Target has seen an increase in its fans, and now has over 12 million likes.
Target's Facebook posts feature photos of products with witty statues and products that are tied to holidays, movies releases and pop-culture days. For "Star Wars" day, Target released a fun photo of a Yoda doll and a status of “International Star Wars Day it is. Celebrate you should.” It also uses its Facebook page to feature coupons and products that are on sale.
There is also a focus of interaction with its user. Status likes can reach up to 70,000. Recently, Target turned 50, and it encouraged Facebook fans to wish them a Happy Birthday with birthday "likes" It also offers a behind-the-scenes look by posting photos and offering TargetChats with Target executives, and book authors.
Burberry Number of "likes": 12.83 million People talking about this: 136,663 Facebook page:
Burberry, the UK-based luxury fashion house, is another highly liked and highly engaging brand, according to Facebook sources. Burberry’s brand page is highly visual, posting mostly videos and photos that regularly receive tens of thousands of "likes" and hundreds of comments. Photos include behind-the-scenes shots from photo shoots and displays of new product lines that bring in positive feedback from users in several languages.
Burberry also shares beauty tips and even has a “Burberry Body” tab that allows users to purchase products directly on Facebook. The Burberry page is also relatively music heavy, with an "acoustic" section displaying a number of music videos to complement the brand's look and feel.
Subway Number of "likes": 13.08 million People talking about this: 221,101 Facebook page:
The sandwich franchise Subway contains a variety of posts that include product photos, contest updates and videos. A photos of one of its sandwiches can get over 18,000 likes.
Subway also focuses on online contests to help lure fans. This month, Subway is running a contest in partnership with the upcoming movie "Battleship," in which users get codes from Subway products or from Subway status posts. They then enter the code on a separate contest page for a chance at prizes. Prior to that, they had a Footlong Nation Appreciation Sweepstakes, which worked the same way.
Additional features on the page include a "Fresh Buzz," where users can see special offers in their area, and "The Flavorizer," which allows users to build their own breakfast sandwich or see other creations that other fans have built.
The National Basketball Association
Number of "likes": 13.1 million
People talking about this: 372,075
The National Basketball Association has had a rocky 2011, with a lockout threatening the season. This didn’t stop the organization from being the most “liked” sports brand in the world, however, beating out football (5.5 million "likes" for the National Football League), baseball (1.2 million “likes” for Major League Baseball) and hockey (2.3 million for the National Hockey League).
The NBA's fan page offers a range of features, including videos and commentary, NBA-related photos and the ability to purchase NBA merchandise on Facebook. It also allows users to "check in," another feature that will contribute to its “people talking about this” number, where users can chat, earn badges and enter contests to win prizes.
Zara Number of "likes": 13.35 million People talking about this: 65,793 Facebook page:
Zara, the Spanish clothing and accessories retailer, has successfully managed its Facebook presence and generated more than 13.35 million fans. Zara’s page features several tabs that include “The Mood,” “This Week,” “Lookbook,” “Mobile,” and “Join Fashion,” offering fans galleries of the company’s styles, the ability to download the company’s iPod and iPad app and external links to non-Facebook Zara sites.
Zara’s wall posts — new photos and other additions to the page — generate upwards of 10,000 “likes” and several hundred comments each. The page also has a selection of sophisticated YouTube videos that enhance the look and feel of the Zara brand, with everything from displays from its seasonal collections to examples of how to connect with the brand via mobile devices.
Wal-Mart Stores Number of “likes”: 15.59 million People talking about this: 257,911 Facebook page:
One of the world's largest companies, Wal-Mart Stores is also one of the most “liked” on Facebook. The company’s page offers a range of activities, including Meal Solutions, which offers recipes and a meal planner.
Wal-Mart has several wall posts that feature shopping deals, gift suggestions, and the occasional photo that seems to be just for fun. Interestingly, the fun posts seem to do much better for engagement than the shopping-oriented posts. One example is a post of a kid wrapped up in toilet paper with the status “The prankster in my family is __.” It generated nearly 7,300 "likes" and 2,200 comments. Compared with an earlier post explaining an offer on coffee makers that gained 1,300 "likes" and only 153 comments, engagement looks to be much higher on more tangential, fun posts.
Monster Energy Number of "likes": 16.10 million People talking about this: 213,257 Facebook page:
Although brands from many larger companies easily make it onto the list, one that might be surprising is Monster Energy, owned by Monster Beverage Co. The company’s page features a wide range of content, from high-octane videos of extreme athletes to a “Intern Search” that makes use of social networking to find potential interns.
Monster's page is full of posts that draw several thousand "likes" each, with clips of extreme sports action receiving the most engagement. The page also posts information about events and TV programs that Monster is affiliated with.
Victoria's Secret Number of "likes": 18.52 million People talking about this: 185,927 Facebook page:
The highly popular Victoria's Secret brand doesn't merely draw crowds to its fashion shows, it has had huge success on Facebook. In early December, the company began a daily offer to give away 100,000 gift cards valued from $10 to $500 exclusive to its Facebook fans. Prior to this promotion, Victoria's Secret's “people talking about this” hovered around 170,000, but skyrocketed above 380,000, signaling a huge increase in engagement. Over this time, it also added more than 200,000 fans.
The company began using the page to promote its fashion show in late November, offering fans the opportunity for exclusive updates. The page also features videos of models, sneak peeks on in-store deals, and computer screen wallpaper available for download. Posts on the page's wall are highly engaging, drawing as much as 26,000 “likes” for new images and 14,000 for new videos. Victoria's Secret also gives fans the opportunity to send gift cards to friends through the page, directly encouraging its fans to purchase more of the company's products.