Facebook is expected to go public Friday in one of the most highly anticipated IPOs ever. 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!
By Paul Toscano and updated by Jill Weinberger
Updated 17 May 2012
Note: The figures for total number of “likes” and “people talking about this” were as of the publish date for this story.