I recently came across two articles that have changed my thoughts on Facebook fanpages. First, SEOBoy posted an article describing how Google is more aggressively showing social media connections next to search results. It’s a simple concept: if you are signed into your Google account, Google will show the interaction your social network connections have had with the sites that appear in the search results. Ostensibly, this is to help searchers understand which search results are the most relevant to them, although it’s also a good sign that Google is trying to amp up its own social role, especially when it comes to promoting their shiny new +1 button. But how does this relate to Facebook layouts for businesses? To answer that, let’s look at the next post that influenced me: Ignite Social Media’s list of The Top 50 Branded Facebook Pages.
As of Ignite’s most recent rankings (pulled on 4/27/11), the top fan pages on Facebook by volume are Facebook, YouTube, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Disney. Of this list, let’s look at the product-related sites, Starbucks and Disney (for a review of Coca-Cola’s Facebook page, check out Dave’s post here). Both these sites have positioned themselves not only to keep attracting massive amounts of Facebook fans, but to also take advantage of Google’s new social-infused search.
For being ranked at #3 for the most fans, Starbucks’ page is remarkably unflashy. There is no splash “like us” page to navigate through, and the wall looks much like any other personal Facebook profile. Disney is in the same boat: although more colorful, their wall looks like any other, and you can view the page even if you’re not a fan. This approach, however, makes sense: Starbucks and Disney both had an avid fan base before social media was born, meaning that Starbucks and Disney don’t need to forge a new online branding scheme to attract fans, like newer or less-known companies might. If anything, it may be confusing/insulting for Disney and Starbucks fans to be blocked from instantly moving into a fan page for these two companies, almost as if Disney and Starbucks were saying that their fanatic following isn’t good enough as they are when they first come to the page.
But having existing fans is only half the story. The reason Disney and Starbucks excel is because they manage to make their pages useful enough for fans to keep coming in. This is done partially through the special services both offer. Starbucks allows you create a Starbucks account directly from Facebook, which can be used to access the membership side of their homepage and buy Starbucks cards. There is even a way to find open jobs at Starbucks through their job search app. Both of these features make the page useful, not just fun.
Disney, on the other hand, only has two extra pages on its Facebook page, but both are winners. First, there is Disney Download option, which provides links to high-quality wallpapers, released weekly. Their second page is really nothing more than a library of their other Disney-related pages on Facebook, such as pages devoted to specific characters and movies (which I’ll come back to in a minute). While these options don’t have the same “real-world” application as Starbucks’ choices, they provide insider benefits that would make becoming a fan of the page worth it for many people.
Likes, likes, likes!
By now you’re probably wondering when I’ll ever get back to my initial thought: the effect of Google’s social-media focus on Facebook fan pages. Well, wait no further: the reason I feel that both Disney and Starbucks are well-placed to make the most from Google’s new focus is because both of them are like-generating machines.
Disney’s ability to get fans to engage with their product is outstanding. First, there’s that link to all the other Facebook pages for Disney – a like for “Toy Story” or “DORY” will come back to help Disney…and increase the times a Disney product can show up as socially endorsed in a user’s search query. Secondly, Disney shows an amazing ability to produce diverse, interesting, and relevant wall posts. From promoting their D23 Expo to including movie quotes to taking polls, every post from Disney is designed to make the viewers feel special, excited, and happy. Even more importantly, the posts fluctuate between new and old topics, which reaches out to a wide age range. And finally, each post is published with an image, meaning that the site is fun to browse, even if you don’t read all the comments.
Starbucks’ isn’t quite as streamlined as Disney’s but it does have its own baiting structure. Fist, you can choose to view a wall of Starbucks posts only, which have a communal, engaging tone. Some of the posts even have the “via iPhone” tag, which very much reminds the viewer that there is a human on the other end of the site. If you click to the wall, you can see people who have written on the fan page’s wall directly, or mentioned Starbucks in their status updates. There’s a double filter here: you can choose to view the most recent posts, or the “top posts,” which can help viewers avoid the spam posts which plague Facebook fanpages.
The Facebook Future
Both Starbucks and Disney have fan pages that are ready to face Google’s new focus on likes. These Facebook pages help to promote the company’s business interests, and build a community of trust around brands. Because of their tactics involving subpages, likes, and format, they are appealing and beneficial enough to Facebook users that both have risen to the top of the site. However, these are not the only sites out there to rock their fan pages. Which ones do you prefer?
Since its founding in 1923, The Walt Disney Company and its affiliated companies have remained faithful to their commitment to produce unparalleled entertainment experiences based on the rich legacy of quality creative content and exceptional storytelling. The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with four business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment and consumer products.
Starbucks opened in 1971 as a roaster and retailer of whole bean and ground coffee, tea and spices with a single store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Today, Starbucks services millions of customers every day with exceptional products and more than 17,000 retail stores in over 50 countries.