5 Most Liked Brands on Facebook and How They Got There

5 Most Liked Brands on FacbeookFacebook, Coca-Cola, MTV, Disney, and Redbull have become the 5 most “liked” brand pages on Facebook, according to Fan Page List, which is a useful resource for regularly updated statistics on social media statistics and brands. Today, I’ll examine how each of these brands made it to the top of this list, and I’ll draw lessons about how to build a strong Facebook marketing strategy.

Facebook: 81,614,333 Likes

Facebook gets a “gimme” at the number one spot on this list. Facebook’s own Facebook Page posts big news on the company and points users towards cool new features of the site. It also shares interesting media and info about Facebook, including user generated content and stories about the site.

The Facebook page is accessible to a broad audience and shares news that could be relevant to any Facebook user from around the world. The Facebook page usually only posts every couple of days. The posts are simple and accessible, and they are mainly geared towards highlighting the features of Facebook. Facebook encourages new users to get started by “liking” things with their page first, so they kind of get a shoe-in to first place, but they are a good resource for news that is relevant to anyone with an interest in the site.

Coca-Cola: 55,578,263 Likes

Coca-cola is obviously another household name, but how did a soft drink company land the second most likes on Facebook? The truth is, it wasn’t really the company’s doing, but rather its fans. Two serious fans, brand evangelists actually, Dusty Sorg and Michael Jedrzejewski, decided to create a fan page for Coke that quickly went viral with fan-generated content. It quickly passed 1,000,000 views. When Facebook started enforcing a policy allowing only official representatives to manage branded pages, Coke took over Dusty and Michael’s page, but hired the two as marketing “consultants.”

Since Coke took control of the page, it held on to the ideas that made Dusty and Michael’s page so successful in the first place – they kept it about the fans. Rather than sales and promotions for Coke products, the page instead garners brand loyalty and encourages fans to participate. Coke shares fan pictures and encourages them to contribute to conversations. Coke also spreads its brand by getting involved with many causes and creative projects. Posts will call attention, or even ask for donations, to humanitarian and social causes that Coca-Cola sponsors, which helps remind fans that Coke is more than just a soft drink company – its a lifestyle brand that wants to use its resources to make positive changes in the world.

MTV: 39,366,113 Likes

In 2011, the MTV Facebook Page really began climbing this list. It was at a mere 1 million likes in 2010, but has since skyrocketed to the number three position with over 39 million likes. MTV owes its Facebook success to its strong understanding of the wants of its target audience. It has achieved this by positioning itself as the voice of pop culture on Facebook.

According to Thomas Fisher, director of social marketing for MTV, “Our Facebook page is trying to tell the cohesive story of what’s going on in pop culture.” It’s a rather lofty goal, but MTV defines so much of pop culture through its branding and programming that it’s one it is well suited for.

The page’s posts are casual, hip, and personal, and they link to lots of media (most of it under MTV’s production, but some other pop culture tidbits as well). They are well geared towards MTV’s target audience – males and females between the ages of 13 and 24 years. By posting about the latest news and creating celebrity topics that pick up lots of comments and likes, MTV uses its page to not only cater to the latest trends in pop culture, but to create them as well.

Disney: 39,189,347 Likes

Disney has been a household name since Steamboat Willie cruised into the silver screen in 1928. But how does such a large and multi-faceted company reach out to its fans in the social media age? Disney’s Facebook page owes much of its success to the nostalgia around the brand, and a majority of its posts capitalize on this. A lot of posts are just pictures and quotes from Disney’s expansive film library.

There are occasional posts on new Disney films and products, but the focus remains on Disney’s past rather than the present. For a company that makes films primarily targeted towards children, the nostalgia factor works well and feels inclusive to anyone who grew up watching Disney films.

Red Bull: 34,089,778 Likes

Redbull used to “give you wings,” according to the commercials that helped bring the energy drink to the public. But the company shifted this approach in the social media age and started challenging fans to create their own wings. Or boats. Or all sorts of outlandish, entertaining and over-the-top acts of human triumph. Red Bull turned to its fans to get creative for contests like their Candola home-made boat race and Flugtag aircraft making competitions. These competitions are edgy, ridiculous, and really fun to follow and watch. And they’ve got the Red Bull name all over them. Their Facebook page serves as the hub for updates, media, news, and fan interaction around these contests.

Red Bull continues to push the limits with events and publicity stunts. Redbull’s strategy has been to create big news about extreme feats of human accomplishment. Whether it’s on a relatively small scale, such as getting a couple buddies to band together and build a flying machine, or orchestrating enormous stunts, like Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking 2012 jump from the Earth’s stratosphere, the content Red Bull creates drives the Facebook page. Each new event attracts new fans and keeps existing fans engaged with new stories, contests, and more outlandish feats.

Keys to Branding Success

Each of these 5 massively successful brands has employed different strategies to reach the highest numbers of Facebook likes, but each strategy is well suited with the brand, its image, and its message.

Each of these pages has a strong sense of brand identity, as well as a good understanding of the target audience. All of these brands (with the obvious exception of Facebook) were around well before the days of social media, but their Facebook pages today show how they have adapted to the digital age of marketing. Discovering how to reach and connect with a target audience through social media is the key to success.

Whether reaching for a broad market, like Facebook’s own page, or a highly targeted demographic, such as MTV’s, the pages are accessible and engaging. They update with posts that aren’t so much about trying to sell the brands’ products, but instead post about capturing the image and spirit of the brand.

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Ross Wilson is a writer, musician, and technology guru. He has worked in many facets of technology and IT since 2005. He also plays in, records, and runs social media for several bands and projects around Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his cat, Lewis.

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