When Facebook recently launched their ‘talking about’ figure, it signalled a new way for brands to measure their success on Facebook. It meant that it wasn’t just about how many fans you had, but how many individual mentions you had on Facebook, also taking into account mentions your Page had through ads. Now that the new figure has been around for a few weeks, it’s interesting to look at how it compares to Likes, for indicating the most successful brands on Facebook. An analysis of the top 10 brand Pages by Likes shows us this in action. The figure below shows the top 10 brands on Facebook ordered by Likes, with their ‘talking about’ figure expressed as a number and a percentage :

When you reorder the brands by their ‘talking about’ figure expressed as a percentage of Likes (to give an accurate representation), then the most popular Facebook Pages look quite different. This is shown below, with the brands’ original position in brackets :

Now the table looks quite different, and you begin to get a more accurate indication of popular Facebook Pages, by level of engagement and conversation, as opposed to being purely about numbers. Since ‘talking about’ takes into account actual updates from profiles, it shows how engaged individual people are about a brand, outside of the Page itself.

The movers

There is significant shift amongst some brands in this analysis when it comes to which of them are the most ‘popular’. Most notable is that Red Bull has moved from position 7 for most Likes, to position 1 for being ‘talked about’. This would seem more closely in line with Red Bull’s social media strategy, as they continually demonstrate good practice, investing heavily in content and their community. Conversely, Facebook has dropped from position 1 to position 6, demonstrating directly that number of Likes does not equal popularity.

A similar movement can also be seen by Skittles ; another brand that consistently executes good social media campaigns, with creativity. They have moved from the bottom of the pile at position 10, to position 5 for most talked about.

Surprising?

To look at 2 of the brands that made the most significant leaps when comparing ‘Likes’ to popularity, it’s not necessarily surprising. A look at Facebook’s most recent updates on their Page, shows 2 over the last 2 weeks :

Compare this to Red Bull, who sit at the top for popularity and they have made 2 updates in the past 24 hours alone and 23 updates in the same 2 week period as Facebook :

Of course, while the number of updates on a Page gives a preliminary indicator of success, as you can’t force people to engage with a large number of boring updates, it does expose the severe limitations of judging the success of a Facebook Page by the number of Likes alone. While Facebook as a brand might not be comparable to Red Bull, the figures above show consistently that Likes do not equal conversation.  This has hopefully shown the limits of number of Likes as an indicator of success, showing that you can’t necessarily ‘buy’ your way to popularity.