Brand Facebook post frequency

Analysis: How often brands post to Facebook, and the impressions they generate

I had the good fortune of giving a presentation in London this week in which I shared a lot of data on how the Top 50 Branded Facebook Fan Pages (which I’ve now been tracking for over 18 months) perform against one another. As I fly home, one fact keeps coming back to me: how often the best brands post to their Facebook fan pages and the impact it has on the impressions they generate.


Methodology

Our unique partnership with Expion, a social media management software, allows me to look at data well beyond page size. With Expion, I analyzed all 50 of the largest Facebook on several data points. The data looked at page performance from May 1, 2011 to July 31, 2011. Any fan counts were collected on August 1, 2011. (Do note that Expion cannot see private Facebook data, so geo-targeted posts or posts from private pages [such as those with an age restriction] are not included. I don’t believe that has any impact on this particular data, however.)


Who are the Top 50?

While you can get the complete list of the Top 50 Facebook pages on my regular ranking, for the purposes of this study, I broke them into 5 categories. The Top 50 pages are composed of:

  • 15 Fashion Apparel Retailers
  • 13 Packaged Food/Drinks
  • 10 Technology Companies
  • 6 Entertainment/Recreation
  • 5 Food Establishments or Chains

How often do brands post to Facebook?

Brand Facebook post frequency

There was wide variability in how often brand pages post to Facebook. The average brand page studied posts to Facebook 38 times per month. But Entertainment brands had nearly twice the frequency, at 70 posts per month.


The Top 5 and the Bottom 5

Don’t be fooled by the neatness of the 38 posts per month average though. There is wide variability between the most frequent posters and those who post the least.

The Most Frequent Posters

The five most frequent posters in the Top 50 from May through July were:

  1. National Geographic: 145 posts per month
  2. iTunes: 119 posts per month
  3. MTV: 108 posts per month
  4. Xbox: 77 posts per month
  5. DC Shoes: 70 posts per month

The Least Frequent Posters

The five least frequent posters in the Top 50 from May through July were:

  1. Disney Pixar: 6 posts per month
  2. McDonalds: 6 posts per month
  3. Zara: 5 posts per month
  4. Nutella: 4 posts per  month
  5. Ferrero Rocher: 1/3 post per month (1 post during the study)

Facebook Posting and Impact on Impressions

If we calculate the maximum number of impressions it was possible for these pages to generate, we can compare their relative share of voice. To calculate maximum impressions, Expion uses the following formula:

Max impressions = (Facebook fans x # of posts) + (Fan actions x average friends/active fan)

In other words, if you know how many fans the post can potentially reach (all of them) and you know how many times fans like or comment on a post, you can multiply those fan actions by the average number of friends that each active fan has. It’s a bunch of math that Expion performs routinely.

Since no page gets all the impressions possibly, however, I multiplied the maximum impressions by the expected impressions. Facebook reports that 16% of fans see a given brand post and 12% of their friends’ posts. So calculating 14% of the maximum impressions gives us a rough estimate of the actual impressions per brand, factoring in the brand posts and the fan actions.

Estimated impressions = ((Facebook fans x # of posts) + (Fan actions x average friends/active fan)) x .14

The difference between the Top 5 and Bottom 5 is alarming.

The top 5 posting pages are getting 32 times the number of impressions that the bottom 5 are getting. MTV generated an estimated 1.3 billion impressions from their effort, while Ferrero Rocher generated an estimated 2.1 million impressions because of their lack of effort on Facebook.

If part of the reason to market to is to generate positive impressions of your brand, this is not a number to be ignored. And if it were a traditional advertising share of voice calculation, the bottom five would try to increase their ad spend.


Summary

Regardless of whether your page is in the Top 50 or nowhere near it, you likely have competitors that are active on Facebook. Where would you rank against them in a similar analysis?

In short, there are only two ways to increase the number of newsfeed impressions that you generate. Either you post more or you get more fan actions. As you can see from this analysis, the best strategy is to do both.

Related Posts

14 Comments
  • Jimaltemus
    Posted at 16:29h, 28 August

    What does an impression produce?
    What does an impression accomplish?

  • Matt Ridings
    Posted at 15:10h, 29 August

    Jim, 

    Trying to get my head around some of the numbers here.  The conclusion doesn’t seem to take into account the notion of a ‘ceiling’ or ‘balance’.  There’s an optimal number of posts in there somewhere (relative to each brand, sector, audience, etc.) that maximizes the relationship between posts/fan engagement.  To be specific, posting 1000 times will not net you 10x the impressions of posting 100 times…and could likely diminish impressions due to fan churn caused by overposting.

    So while I don’t disagree with the notion that you obviously can’t be ‘seen’ if you aren’t saying anything, I’m not sure the numbers as laid out are actionable without some context.

    If my off the cuff math is correct then National Geographic (in the top 5) actually generates less impressions per post than Pixar (in bottom 5) does.  So brands would need to determine certain things like “what is our estimation of the value of a fan” and “what is that value of a impression” because those two things are not necessarily in line with one another and at some point may in fact be a negative correlary.  For example, I could choose to post at a rate which loses Net Fans but increases overall impressions through volume of posts.  Which was more valuable?

    It’s not that the analysis you’ve got isn’t valuable, it is, the question is what does it actually *mean* at a relative level?

    You’ve definitely got me noodling.

    Cheers,

    -Matt

  • Matt Ridings - Techguerilla
    Posted at 15:11h, 29 August

    Jim, 

    Trying to get my head around some of the numbers here.  The conclusion doesn’t seem to take into account the notion of a ‘ceiling’ or ‘balance’.  There’s an optimal number of posts in there somewhere (relative to each brand, sector, audience, etc.) that maximizes the relationship between posts/fan engagement.  To be specific, posting 1000 times will not net you 10x the impressions of posting 100 times…and could likely diminish impressions due to fan churn caused by overposting.

    So while I don’t disagree with the notion that you obviously can’t be ‘seen’ if you aren’t saying anything, I’m not sure the numbers as laid out are actionable without some context.

    If my off the cuff math is correct then National Geographic (in the top 5) actually generates less impressions per post than Pixar (in bottom 5) does.  So brands would need to determine certain things like “what is our estimation of the value of a fan” and “what is that value of a impression” because those two things are not necessarily in line with one another and at some point may in fact be a negative correlary.  For example, I could choose to post at a rate which loses Net Fans but increases overall impressions through volume of posts.  Which was more valuable?

    It’s not that the analysis you’ve got isn’t valuable, it is, the question is what does it actually *mean* at a relative level?

    You’ve definitely got me noodling.

    Cheers,

    -Matt

  • Matt Ridings - Techguerilla
    Posted at 15:11h, 29 August

    Jim, 

    Trying to get my head around some of the numbers here.  The conclusion doesn’t seem to take into account the notion of a ‘ceiling’ or ‘balance’.  There’s an optimal number of posts in there somewhere (relative to each brand, sector, audience, etc.) that maximizes the relationship between posts/fan engagement.  To be specific, posting 1000 times will not net you 10x the impressions of posting 100 times…and could likely diminish impressions due to fan churn caused by overposting.

    So while I don’t disagree with the notion that you obviously can’t be ‘seen’ if you aren’t saying anything, I’m not sure the numbers as laid out are actionable without some context.

    If my off the cuff math is correct then National Geographic (in the top 5) actually generates less impressions per post than Pixar (in bottom 5) does.  So brands would need to determine certain things like “what is our estimation of the value of a fan” and “what is that value of a impression” because those two things are not necessarily in line with one another and at some point may in fact be a negative correlary.  For example, I could choose to post at a rate which loses Net Fans but increases overall impressions through volume of posts.  Which was more valuable?

    It’s not that the analysis you’ve got isn’t valuable, it is, the question is what does it actually *mean* at a relative level?

    You’ve definitely got me noodling.

    Cheers,

    -Matt

  • Jim Tobin
    Posted at 16:13h, 29 August

    Matt, 

    You’re absolutely right. These are only 2 data points, and if you take them in isolation, they have the potential to lead you astray.

    When you’re actually making the decision on how often to post, there are lots of factors. In fact, we don’t give the same answer to each client. So much is based on the perceived “exchange” of why someone became a fan and what they expect out of it. 

    Lots to consider…

    Thanks for the comment Matt. 

    Jim

  • Jim Tobin
    Posted at 16:13h, 29 August

    Matt, 

    You’re absolutely right. These are only 2 data points, and if you take them in isolation, they have the potential to lead you astray.

    When you’re actually making the decision on how often to post, there are lots of factors. In fact, we don’t give the same answer to each client. So much is based on the perceived “exchange” of why someone became a fan and what they expect out of it. 

    Lots to consider…

    Thanks for the comment Matt. 

    Jim

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 07:10h, 30 August

    Facebook is great.
    Thanks.
    Google Plus SEO

  • ngphuc2k
    Posted at 07:10h, 30 August

    Facebook is great.
    Thanks.
    Google Plus SEO

  • Evan Frangos
    Posted at 01:49h, 09 September

    Brand awareness, and an increased propensity to buy.

    Consumers are highly influenced by the actions of those they trust. When people see their friends engaging with a brand they think “hmm my friend likes this brand, it must be pretty good”. The increased trust in the brand, increases propensity to purchase.

  • Evan Frangos
    Posted at 01:49h, 09 September

    Brand awareness, and an increased propensity to buy.

    Consumers are highly influenced by the actions of those they trust. When people see their friends engaging with a brand they think “hmm my friend likes this brand, it must be pretty good”. The increased trust in the brand, increases propensity to purchase.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 13:41h, 11 January

    Matt and Jim,  really enjoyed your exchanged.  It is so refreshing to read such good analysis of the variables.  

  • kristinechristlieb
    Posted at 13:41h, 11 January

    Matt and Jim,  really enjoyed your exchanged.  It is so refreshing to read such good analysis of the variables.  

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 13:44h, 11 January

    Jim/Matt–excellent thinking from both of you.  Appreciate the info.  Question for Jim–I work for an NPO–would you happen to know who has the best fan page?

  • kristinechristlieb
    Posted at 13:44h, 11 January

    Jim/Matt–excellent thinking from both of you.  Appreciate the info.  Question for Jim–I work for an NPO–would you happen to know who has the best fan page?

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