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What we learned from analysing the top brands in social media, and food for thought for brand owners starting to look at social reputation monitoring.

Our top 50 brands in social media league table caused quite a stir, and we had 20,000 page views almost overnight and comment from everywhere from Switzerland and Brazil to Australia and the Philippines.

I thought it was worth doing a follow-up post to highlight what we learned from the exercise and provide some food for thought for brand owners starting to look at social reputation monitoring.

A social media campaign isn’t always necessary to get people talking about you

As a few people pointed out (including me) a social media campaign isn’t always necessary to get people talking about you online, if your product is good enough, your brand big enough, and your fans vocal enough.

This was clearly the case with Apple, which does almost no official social media work and yet came second in our list of social brands.

The ‘reach’ of a brand is meaningless on its own

The ‘reach’ of a brand (ie the amount people are talking about it) is meaningless on its own. ‘Opportunities to see’ is often a metric brands use for their ad and PR campaigns, but it can’t be applied in social media.

People might be saying awful things about you. This is why any reputation measurement has to analyse satisfaction with the brand alongside reach.

Some of the most talked about brands have some of the worst satisfaction ratings. Canon was a good example, with a high reach score (87 out of 100) but a low satisfaction score of around 52). BT’s figures are even worse, lots is being said but the vast majority is negative. 

Brands don’t necessarily get talked about just because people like them

The beer brand Corona had one of the lowest reach measurements in our list (40 out of 100) but came in with a satisfaction score of around 84.

A few short bursts of social media activity won’t necessarily sustain the conversation

Social media work takes time and a long-term commitment. Smirnoff is a case in point here. It has a great satisfaction score (80), and does some really interesting work online that gets people talking about the brand. But its reach was a fairly lowly 48.45.

Its Nightlife Exchange provoked more online conversation about Smirnoff than anything else, and then conversation drops off once the project is over. I’d be interested to know whether that’s a deliberate ploy by Smirnoff to try to keep control of its message online, after Smirnoff Ice suffered a reputation battering (associations with underage drinking) in the wake of an ‘icing’ hit last year. 

Yes, eBay really is the most social of the top brands

Its satisfaction score (85.6) was a bit lower than its reach score (98.65), which means there are some people complaining about it, but overall more people are talking about it, and positively, than any other brand in the Interbrand top 100 list. 

Being ‘liked’ by people on Facebook doesn’t equal engagement

Some of the brands we looked at have a great following of fans, but do nothing with them. 3.8m people like Gucci on Facebook, but I’d love to know what this actually achieves for the brand. There doesn’t seem to be any active engagement; Facebook seems to be more of a channel to push out news for Gucci.

Social media has moved on, and if you’ve got an army of people who are willing to publicly say they’re a fan of the brand, there are real opportunities to embrace and engage them more meaningfully. 

Facebook isn’t everything

Nintendo doesn’t actively manage its official Facebook presence, but focuses social activity heavily on YouTube, using sub-branded channels and regularly updated content to showcase products. Its fans take the conversation on from there.

    So, thanks to those who pointed out that the popularity rankings don’t tell you much in isolation. I agree!

    The real insight is derived from analysing why some brands punching above their weight and why others are failing to capitalise on the strength of their brands in social channels.

    Those exhibiting strong scores all have things in common: engaging content, good segmentation of content on relevant platforms, responsiveness, sensible integration of social with other channels.They all add value to the consumer relationship.